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Vatican Repudiates “Doctrine of Discovery” Used to Justify European Colonialism

HeadlineMar 31, 2023

The Vatican has formally rejected the Catholic Church’s “Doctrine of Discovery,” used to justify European colonialism in Africa and the Americas, which dates from “papal bulls” issued in the 1450s. In a statement issued Thursday, the Vatican said the documents were “manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers in order to justify immoral acts against Indigenous peoples that were carried out, at times, without opposition from ecclesiastical authorities.” Many Indigenous leaders welcomed the church’s repudiation of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” which came eight months after Pope Francis toured Canada and apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s brutal “Indian residential school” system, where many students died.

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