Doctrine of Discovery
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) calls upon His Holiness, Pope Francis, to consider deeply how the Church may embody in these times the Christian heart of justice and compassion toward indigenous peoples. We humbly and respectfully ask Pope Francis to lead us in formally repudiating the period of Christian history that used religion to justify political and personal violence against indigenous nations and peoples and their cultural, religious, and territorial identities.
LCWR stands in solidarity with indigenous peoples’ requests, and with our members who have supported the indigenous peoples’ requests, and ask that Pope Francis:
- Publicly acknowledge, with specificity, the continuing harm that indigenous peoples suffer as a direct result of the Doctrine of Discovery formalized in certain papal bulls circa 15th century (Dum Diversas, Romanus Pontifex, and Inter Caetera);
- Publicly clarify and repudiate any remaining legal status of these bulls, especially the following: (1) Papal grant of the ancestral territories of indigenous peoples to Christian European monarchs “in perpetuity,” and (2) Papal authorization for European Christian monarchs to “assume dominion in perpetuity over indigenous peoples and their territories;”
- Grant the request of indigenous peoples by dialoguing with their leaders in good faith and collaborating with them in planning and completing a sacred ceremony that reconciles with them; and
- Issue a pastoral statement to the courts of settler nations, urging them to change those elements of their laws that derived from these papal bulls and that harm indigenous peoples even to this day.