Catholic groups call for Pope Francis to rescind 15th Century papal bulls on Discovery

Yesterday, thirteen Catholic groups requested that Pope Francis formally rescind the 15th century papal bulls that provided the basis for the international law Doctrine of Discovery and the legalized colonization and subjugation of most of the world by Europeans.

This call was made by the Loretto Community and the elected leadership of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the 19 member congregations of Dominican Sisters Conference, the Sisters of St Francis (Rochester, Minn.), Sisters of St. Joseph (Concordia, Kan.), Sisters of St. Joseph (Philadelphia), Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (Kan.), the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes (Fond du Lac, Wis.), Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Casa Loreto, Rome), Sisters of St. Joseph and Associates of Buffalo New York; Pax Christi International; as well as the 8th Day Center for Justice; and the Franciscan-founded Nevada Desert Experience, in collaboration with Chief Johnnie L. Bobb of the Western Shoshone National Council.

The request by these groups stands in solidarity with indigenous peoples’ requests to every pope since 1984 to do the same. The 13 groups call upon Pope Francis to start a new era of justice with a public declaration that formally rescinds the Dum Diversis Bull of 1452, which ordered Europeans “to capture, vanquish and subdue the Saracens, pagans and other enemies of Christ and put them into perpetual slavery and to take all their possessions and their property,” and the Inter Caetera Bull of 1493, which divided the world for Spain and Portugal to “take all lands and possessions” and to colonize and convert indigenous peoples.

These 13 Catholic groups join other church denominations who have called for a repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the settler-colonial thinking that the Doctrine spawned and sanctioned.  The other religious groups include the World Council of Churches, the Episcopal House of Bishops, the Philadelphia, New York, and Canadian Yearly Meetings of the Religious Society of Friends and the Boulder Friends Meeting (Quakers), the United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalists and others.

Read the entire Loretto Community press release at:

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