Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Captain's log…

Sea-date Friday, October 12, 1492, the date Christopher Columbus reached the New World, after leaving Spain on August 3, 1492:

"At dawn we saw naked people, and I went ashore in the ship's boat …I unfurled the royal banner and the captains brought the flags which displayed a large green cross with the letters "F" [Ferdinand] and "Y" [Isabella] at the left and right side of the cross…. To this land I gave the name San Salvador, in honor of our Blessed Lord. …

The people here …are friendly and well-dispositioned… who bear no arms except for small spears and they have no iron. … I want the natives to develop a friendly attitude towards us because I know they are a people who can be made free and converted to our Holy Catholic Faith more by love than by force. I therefore gave red caps to some and glass beads to others. They hung the beads around their necks …And they took great pleasure in this and became so friendly that it was a marvel. They traded and gave everything they had with good will, but it seems to me they have very little and are poor in everything. I warned my men to take nothing from the people without giving something in exchange."

Pope Paul III, in Sublimus Deus, dated May 29, 1537:

"The sublime God so loved the human race that He created man in such wise that he … endowed him with capacity to attain to the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good and behold it face to face; and since man… has been created to enjoy eternal life and happiness, which none may obtain save through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary that he should possess the nature and faculties enabling him to receive that faith….

"The enemy of the human race [the Devil]… invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God's word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge, should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.

"We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of his flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it.

"Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare… that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

"By virtue of Our apostolic authority We define and declare that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living."

1 comment:

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