The most important story of the last several days has been essentially ignored by most media outlets. It isn’t about the embarrassing political environment we seem to be bludgeoned with daily. It isn’t about where climate change fits into the big picture or how many unacceptable excuses some throw out there to defend military weapons in the hands of tormented, misguided citizens. It is about the Catholic Church and, I’m happy to say, its recovering Pope!

Seven hundred years ago, in 1493, Pope Alexander VI, wrote a Papal Bull called the Doctrine of Discovery. He issued it to respond to and assuage their Catholic explorer/conquerers’ misgivings about subjugating the advanced cultures they encountered in the Americas in the name of the Church.

These princes of the church described cities more beautiful, cleaner and better laid out than any in Europe. They described the people they terrorized as ‘well formed’ and healthy, full of life and intelligent. Mathematics, astronomy, agriculture and engineering accomplishments were superior to their European counterparts… their own, home grown religions strong and meaningful to them. Why, then, wouldn’t it be wise to embrace these cultures and learn from them instead of obliterating them?

Alexander’s response served to strongly influence all human bondage and/or subjugation in the western hemisphere and beyond! Alexander condemned the peoples of the Americas by essentially claiming that everyone must embrace the Christian God for salvation thus freeing the guilty consciences of those “sons” that asked the questions. Also, it must be said, emeralds and gold were beginning to make their way to Europe.

After seven centuries, the current Pope rescinded the Doctrine of Discovery just a few days ago! It represents a watershed moment for all of human kind! So many are reinvigorated about what the future may hold.

I am not Catholic but I am catholic and I, for one, am grateful to Pope Francis for formally disavowing the Doctrine of Discovery.


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