Fr. Raymond J. de Souza: The ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ and the Catholic Church

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Pope Francis meets with leaders of Canada’s First Nations at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Maskwacis, Alberta, July 25, 2022. (photo: Vatican Media )

COMMENTARY: The Church first condemned the concepts behind this doctrine in a document written by Pope Paul III in 1537. So why is its repudiation still an issue today? 

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, EWTN News, April 4, 2023

Father Raymond J. de Souza is the founding editor of Convivium magazine.

Father Raymond J. de SouzaDuring a papal Mass last July in Canada, some Indigenous protesters unfurled a banner calling for Pope Francis to “rescind the doctrine,” by which they meant the “doctrine of discovery.”

In response to that and more decorous requests, two Vatican dicasteries — Culture and Education and Promoting Integral Human Development — published a “joint statement” last week on the matter, stating that the Catholic Church “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.’”

Why would Canadian Indigenous groups be concerned about a so-called “doctrine” that has its roots in papal concessions to the king of Portugal in the 1450s concerning Africa, well before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492? …

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