Monday, November 09, 2009

A Pope on the rights of Indians, 1537

The anti-Catholic propaganda of Protestantism, which has now morphed into the anti-Catholic propaganda of militant secularism, has long maintained that the Catholic Church did nothing to fight for the natural rights of the native inhabitants of the New World, and actually abetted their cruel treatment at the hands of Spanish and Portuguese explorers.

Well, OK, let's start at the top; let's start with the Pope. What did Pope Paul III write in 1537, just 18 years after Cortez landed in Mexico, and only eight years after Pizarro invaded Peru? "Nice going, guys, those heathens sure deserved to be exploited to the hilt for your enrichment?"

Not exactly.

From the encyclical Sublimus Dei:

... notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

Read the whole thing (it's short) here.