The Real Peril of Discovery

National (Roman) Catholic Reporter has two stories about the Doctrine of Discovery that raise intriguing questions for those who put their hopes in papal supremacy, authority, antiquity, and infallibility.

First, the Doctrine (which is not what attorneys do):

The first bull of consequence was issued in 1436 and titled Romanus Pontifex, he said. It concerned “the concession of the right of domination over the Guanches people” and the Canary Islands, which was taken over by the crown of Castile, a medieval state in the Iberian Peninsula.

The bull marked the first time the papacy “made it look as though no one was living there,” or had any ownership over the land being pursued by European powers, “because there were no Christians there,” Newcomb said.

That “pattern of thought” then began marching through history.

In 1452, the papal bull Dum Diversas instructed the Portuguese crown “to invade, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ, to put them into perpetual slavery, and to take away all their possessions and property.”

In 1454, another bull titled Romanus Pontifex furthered that thinking, sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian lands in parts of Africa and restating the legitimacy of enslaving non-Christian people.

In 1493, after Christopher Columbus’ fateful voyage, Inter Caetera granted Ferdinand and Isabella “full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind,” over almost all of the Americas, save for a portion of modern-day Brazil and a few island outposts.

Notice again that the social teaching of the church was going on a long time before Leo XIII, but it’s not always so congenial to modern sensibilities, so Roman Catholic social thought winds up being predominantly a 20th-century concern.

Second, what the progressive Roman Catholics want the papacy to do:

The letter called on the pope to “formally and publicly repudiate and rescind the Dum Diversas Bull of 1452, and other related bulls, which grant the Pope’s blessing ‘to capture, vanquish, and subdue the Saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ and put them into perpetual slavery and to take all their possession and their property.’ We also call upon the Pope to repudiate and rescind the Inter Caetera Bull of 1493 that granted authority to Spain and Portugal to ‘take all lands and possessions’ so long as no other Christian ruler had previously claimed them. These bulls instilled the Doctrine of Discovery, the papal sanctioning of Christian enslavement and power over non-Christians.”

The letter stated the papacy had done some positive work regarding the rights of indigenous peoples — such as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s supporting the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Pope John Paul II’s asking of forgiveness for the misdeeds “of the sons and daughter of the church” — but not nearly enough.

(Recently, Pope Francis asked forgiveness in South America “not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.”)

The Loretto letter included a message from the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Religious Friends (Quakers), which stated:

“You [as Pope] have the power and responsibility to do more, by issuing a new papal bull that formally, directly, unequivocally rescinds and revokes the Doctrine of Discovery and the horrible, cruel, un-Christian language in those bulls that denigrates entire peoples with no justification.”

Comeaux said the Loretto letter was sent to the Vatican and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She said the Loretto community received no response from the Vatican. U.S. bishops’ conference president Archbishop Joseph Kurtz sent a note with a “polite thank you for including me,” she said.

The sisters have contacted Kurtz, who heads the Louisville, Ky., archdiocese, and “he’s expressed interest in getting more information,” she said, “and we’re preparing [that] for him.”

The important question is why a pope should be believed in apology when we haven’t believed the truth of an earlier utterance. If the encyclicals supporting the Doctrine of Discovery were wrong, why isn’t the papal statement that says the Doctrine of Discovery was wrong and asks for forgiveness also erroneous? How do you know when the pope is right? When he conforms to modern notions of fairness and equality? But what if in 500 years, in some sort of Mad Max world, when the current civilization has collapsed and another phase of globalization is starting, with certain people discovering people previously unknown, and the former interact with the latter the way that Europeans treated natives in America, it makes sense to colonize and enslave? If those explorers and exploiters discover papal apologies for the Doctrine of Discovery and judge those apologies to be out of synch with the times, might a pope apologize for the apologies?

One last thought, do the progressive Roman Catholics always think that what comes latest (what is up-to-date) is the best guide to truth? In other words, since we moderns find Christopher Columbus barbaric (even though in Columbus’ day he was considered civilized), is whatever is most recent the way things are supposed to be? That’s an odd view for people who are looking for a papal apology since the papacy is (apparently) an ancient institution. If you really want Roman Catholicism to be up to date, don’t you get rid of the papacy altogether? Who actually believes in ecclesiastical monarchs (except perhaps the gospel allies in their most celebrated status)?

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “The Real Peril of Discovery

  1. We’re it not for Columbus, our chattering classes would not be able to engage in this bread beating, or perhaps they would be doing it in Arabic or Chinese. Glenn Reynolds posts this excerpt from Morrison’s “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” at his Instapundit blog every Columbus Day:

    “At the end of 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. . . .
    Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”
    Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: Expansion.”

    Like

  2. National (Roman) Catholic Reporter has two stories about the Doctrine of Discovery that raise intriguing questions

    FTR, their local bishop

    “Bishop Helmsing condemned the paper, asked us to remove ‘Catholic’ from the name,” explains Coday. “That was reported very extensively within the Reporter. The letter from Helmsing was printed in full. There was response back from the Board of Directors, who acknowledged the letter and studied it seriously, but after that study said that we are an independent publication. We’re not an official organ of the Church. And so, therefore, we don’t need to follow the guidelines he had spelled out. And therefore we could still remain ‘Catholic” in that sense.”

    But not “Catholic” in any legitimate sense, any more than the “Lesbyterians” represent Dr. Hart’s religion.

    Like

  3. FTR, the Dum Diversas Bull of 1452 also spoke of bringing the Muslims back to Christ. It must be seen in context of Muslim aggression against Christendom. Soon they would be at the Gates of Vienna.

    The “progressive” Christians haven’t done sincere homework, they’re just playing the usual left-wing games. Neither is there an authorized English translation of that document, so this is all a shot in the dark.

    Like

  4. Saturday, September 5, 2:30 PM
    Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Penn State
    Nittany Lions
    (0-1)

    10 – 27
    Final
    Temple
    Owls
    (1-0)

    1 2 3 4 Total
    Penn State 10 0 0 0 10
    Temple 0 7 10 10 27

    Like

  5. The Utes felt disrespected despite being favored and spoiled Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching debut with a smothering defense, beating the Wolverines 24-17 on Thursday night in the opener for both teams.

    “We beat Michigan for the third time in a row,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

    Like

  6. sean
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Permalink
    Saturday, September 5, 2:30 PM
    Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    1 2 3 4 Total
    Penn State 10 0 0 0 10
    Temple 0 7 10 10 27

    I was watching this game [as a Philly Boy, Temple’s first win over Penn St since 1941] just as I was researching the Dum Diversas Bull of 1452! Is this a great blog or what?

    Oh, and to add, the name of the church is The Catholic Church. “Roman” was used by English Protestants to try to claim THEY were the real “catholic” church, small “c.” They seldom bother anymore, since the Anglicans and the Presbys don’t even get along with each other, forget the “romish.”

    http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2013/11/those-bloody-papists-even-term-roman.html

    “Roman” is still used that way. Darryl just stuck that in there, as if “Roman” really needed to be added for clarity, as if he’s not referring to the eastern orthodox. Nice try, Dr. Hart, but that trick is so lame.

    Plus the “National Roman Catholic Reporter” is neither national nor Roman nor Catholic nor really much of a reporter. It’s a left-wing piece of

    t
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
    National (Roman) Catholic Reporter has two stories about the Doctrine of Discovery that raise intriguing questions

    FTR, their local bishop

    Bishop Helmsing condemned the paper, asked us to remove ‘Catholic’ from the name,” explains Coday. “That was reported very extensively within the Reporter. The letter from Helmsing was printed in full. There was response back from the Board of Directors, who acknowledged the letter and studied it seriously, but after that study said that we are an independent publication. We’re not an official organ of the Church. And so, therefore, we don’t need to follow the guidelines he had spelled out. And therefore we could still remain ‘Catholic” in that sense.”

    But not “Catholic” in any legitimate sense, any more than the “Lesbyterians” represent Dr. Hart’s religion.

    TVD
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink
    FTR, the Dum Diversas Bull of 1452 also spoke of bringing the Muslims back to Christ. It must be seen in context of Muslim aggression against Christendom. Soon they would be at the Gates of Vienna.

    The “progressive” Christians haven’t done sincere homework, they’re just playing the usual left-wing games. Neither is there an authorized English translation of that document, so this is all a shot in the dark.

    Like

  7. TOP PERFORMERS
    PASS
    Malik Zaire ND
    19-22, 313 YDS, 3 TD
    RUSH
    C.J. Prosise ND
    20 CAR, 98 YDS
    REC
    Will Fuller ND
    7 REC, 142 YDS, 2 TD

    Like

  8. Despite the online posing as superior, Roman Catholic apologetics are in a shambles. Seriously. There is simply no credible way to merge pre- and postconciliar Churches. It is similar to watching the Mormons admit to Joseph Smith’s many wives, etc, and yet insist nothing has changed. Go read Avery Dulles on Who Will Be Saved? (http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/02/001-who-can-be-saved-8) to witness the ‘This is the Truth/Everything is The Truth’ well-intentioned slight of hand that must be executed to make sense of modern Rome. P.S. Francis is actually very conservative, as was Good Pope John. Which of course makes everything that much more of an unsolvable mess. Infallible Guide… For whatever good it does…. Yes, I guess this IS intentionally inflammatory. Once burned, you want to share the lifelong wounds….

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s