March 30 2023 - A joint statement was issued today by the Dicastery for Culture and Education and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in Rome, addressing the concept of the “Doctrine of Discovery”
The joint statement affirms:
“In no uncertain terms, the Church’s magisterium upholds the respect due to every human being. The Catholic Church therefore repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of indigenous peoples, including what has become known as the legal and political ‘doctrine of discovery’.”
The joint statement further emphasizes that the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ is not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church and that the papal documents under scrutiny by some scholars – particularly the Bulls Dum Diversas (1452), Romanus Pontifex (1455) and Inter Caetera (1493) – have never been considered expressions of the Catholic faith. At the same time, it acknowledges that these papal bulls did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous Peoples; that they were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers; and that Indigenous Peoples suffered the terrible effects of the assimilation policies of colonizing nations.
Furthermore, the joint statement expresses support for the principles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the implementation of which would help to improve the living conditions of Indigenous Peoples, to protect their rights, as well as to support their self-development in continuity with their identity, language, history, and culture.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences are together exploring the possibility of organizing an academic symposium with Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars to further deepen historical understanding about the ‘Doctrine of Discovery.’ This idea of a symposium has likewise received encouragement from the two Dicasteries that issued today’s joint statement.
Together with the CCCB, we echo Pope Francis’ statement from Quebec City in July 2022, that is cited again in today’s statement:
“never again can the Christian community allow itself to be infected by the idea that one culture is superior to others, or that it is legitimate to employ ways of coercing others.”
Text in this post was taken from a Statement by the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops