A message from Wahta Mohawks Chief Philip Franks regarding the Vatican’s Repudiation of the Papal Bulls.
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A big step forward has been made by the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican, and we owe our respect and gratitude to the Survivors of the Residential School System for their determination and strength to bring forward the truth of what happened in the past. Pope Francis was enlightened on his visit to Canada last year as evidence grows on the missing children of residential schools. The good news for so many is that he seemingly has acted on his statement that he has heard and will act, but did the Roman Catholic Church as a religious institution come forward some 500 years too late?
The Papal Bulls of the late 1400s were decrees of the politically influential Roman Catholic Church, given the seal of the Pope at the time, which led to trade with the enslavement of people of Africa. Other decrees made it permissible for explorers to claim lands they had never been to before as theirs, regardless of who was already there, in the name of the Church.
In a statement, The Vatican has repudiated, or in other words, refused to be associated with those Bulls. The statement highlighted a subsequent Bull issued 82 years after the first Bull that noted “Indigenous people are by no means to be deprived of their freedom or possession of their property, or enslaved if they did not convert to Christianity. Instead, they should be converted by preaching the word of God and by example good and holy living”.
It was far too late, as the Bulls were interpreted, and the design was set by the political systems around the world which led to the colonization of North America. In 1823, the United States Court affirmed belief in the Doctrine of Discovery, again reinforcing the existent mindset of colonization and superiority. This affirmation only led to Indigenous people being placed on reserves and the assimilation tactics that brought on the Indian Residential School System.
Reconciliation continues to be a matter of education as more truths become apparent and more actions are taken to reshape views regarding Indigenous people in these times and going forward.
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