"Nuns Blast Catholic Church's 'Doctrine Of Discovery' That Justified Indigenous Oppression"


The Doctrine of Discovery is a series of papal bulls, or decrees, that gave Christian explorers the right to lay claim to any land that was not inhabited by Christians and was available to be “discovered.” If its inhabitants could be converted, they might be spared. If not, they could be enslaved or killed.

The doctrine’s modern influence re-emerged recently in the debate about the racism and exploitation of Native American sports mascots, Fiedler said. It has justified efforts to eliminate indigenous languages, practices and worldviews, and it affects Native American sovereignty and treaty obligations.

The Vatican has said that later bulls and papal apologies show the church no longer supports the doctrine.

So these papal bulls…if the Vatican can issue an apology later and not support the doctrine, how do we counter the claim that the Vatican will eventually “get with the times” and “change the doctrine” about other things, like SSM?

Also, the first thing that came up to my mind was papal infallibility…how does that fit in with this…?

Interesting response by one priest, here’s the crux of his response:

“She is a widely known radical feminist and dissenter on a number of issues, such as so-called abortion rights, liberation theology, women’s ordination, religious indifferentism, etc. Given that she is disobedient to the Vatican at every turn, it was the height of arrogance that she demanded renunciation of 15th-century documents.”

“The Church has already spoken to abuses in the past and the late Pope John Paul II included the rights of indigenous persons in his famous apologias. This seems sufficient. Of course, the Church would not want to renounce the courageous missionary efforts of saints or the unique value of our saving Catholic faith.”

“The Holy See has no lands of its own and no longer even makes reference to doctrines of discovery. By contrast, there are already plenty of papal declarations which speak to the rights and dignities of indigenous peoples. But the sisters are merely flexing their muscle. If they were serious, they would be reproaching secular governments and struggles in the present, as with the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. Here at home they conveniently disguise the absurd ramifications of their stance. They want to get even with the Holy See, not a secular nation.”

Full article at bloggerpriest.com/

First things first, this particular “nun” is a radical progressive that supports female ordination among other contrary teachings of the Church. This so-called “doctrine” is not doctrine in the sense that it is an immutable teaching of the Church and was not an infallible ex cathedra declaration by Alexander VI. I have read the Papal Bull Inter Caetera issued May 4, 1493, and it in no terms states what is asserted by these leftist radicals. Besides, the Church had already formally condemned slavery fifty years prior to the issuance of this bull. Later Popes have addressed this matter and the only purpose this “nun” could have in feigning outrage over this in 2014 is to damage the Church.

Same English word “doctrine” has two entirely different meaning in your post.


  1. A policy or position according to which an organization is to be managed.
  2. Formally defined religious teaching of the Catholic Church that enjoys the protection of infallibility.

You no doubt learned about the “Monroe Doctrine” in US history? This is an example of #1 above. The pope has often in history been ASKED by civil leaders to provide moral guidance in issues of the time. These sorts of political doctrines (#1) are NOT part of the deposit of faith (#2), nor do they fall under the auspices of infallibility.

Given the past record of this sister in regards to Church teaching, I’d say there’s a good chance that the confusion regarding the two uses of the same word isn’t coincidental. Hypothetically speaking, if one wanted to sow confusion and disrespect for the teaching authority of the church while remaining technically protected against charges of apostasy, this would be a good strategy. Just sayin’…

First of all, the “Discovery Doctrine” is a US legal principle. You blame Chief Justice John Marshall for it, if you must.

Second, it was about a real estate property claim called Johnson v M’Intosh. It dealt with the history of various English and US land charters, and the local Piankeshaw tribe wasn’t even involved in the case. It affected US law about Indian lands, and it didn’t have anything to do with Catholic canon law, papal bulls, or anything related to it. Marshall was dealing with US law and English common law. That’s it.

It’s lately been fashionable for the US Episcopalian institutional church (which keeps shutting down and stealing Episcopalian Indian church properties on reservations, btw) to decry the US Discovery Doctrine, and the non-nuns are just jumping on the bandwagon. (Albeit not by stealing Indian Catholic churches on reservations, so they’re ahead of the Episcopalians there.)

Just another Protestant rattling the skeletons in our collective closet. Be not afraid! (ooooooooooooooops I forgot she is a “sister.” Is she still Catholic? Oh dear! :eek: Sorry if I offend.)


Someone on another thread posted this:

Sublimus Dei is a papal document from 1537 which is in favor of native rights and forbids the enslavement of Indians or the stealing of their property. Another, earlier document in favor of native rights is Sicut Dudum from 1435.

In it, Pope Eugene IV said, “All and each of the faithful of each sex, within the space of fifteen days of the publication of these letters in the place where they live, [must] restore to their earlier liberty all and each person of either sex who were once residents of the Canary Islands…who have been made subject to slavery. These people are to be totally and perpetually free and are to be let go without the exaction or reception of any money. If this is not done [within] the fifteen days…they incur the sentence of excommunication by the act itself.” (Sicut Dudum)

I think the Yahoo and HuffPo articles could be improved if they stated clearly that the papal documents they mention do not make it okay for Christians to take over lands that are owned by other people. They are only talking about undiscovered lands and warfare against unjust aggressors who can’t be stopped in any other way. If the Indians already lived in the territories discovered by the Spanish and Portuguese, then obviously those lands had already been discovered…by the Indians, centuries or millenia before. Therefore, the doctrine of discovery wouldn’t apply to lands owned by the Indians.

Is that helpful?

Yea, I figured there was something else going on — just didn’t know what the actual history was. Every time HuffPo has a religious/Christian/Catholic piece, factual truth is distorted.

I thought that Dum Diversas allowed slavery?

Although Dum Diversas is sometimes interpreted as authorizing Spain and Portugal to start the racial slave trade, there are several lines of evidence against this, and which lead me to believe that the form of “slavery” mentioned in this bull was a form of forced labor for prisoners of war, not the same thing as racial slavery.

First of all, racial slavery had already been condemned. (See Sicut Dudum from Pope Eugene IV, already quoted on this thread.) Second of all, notice the emphasis of this document on “Saracens” (Muslims) and “enemies of Christ.” Spain was at war with the Muslim empire at this time, and it was standard practice at the time to enslave prisoners of war instead of kill them.

Because of this, in my judgment, the most you could glean from this document is that unfree prison labor can be justified and can be called slavery. That is far different from racial slavery – racial slavery assumes the inequality of blacks, and because of that, it was condemned by the popes of the time.

Does this seem like a fair analysis to you?

So colonialism was a sin of the church?

What can you say about old feminist nuns without getting yourself banned? :mad:

I think what’s more problematic was that these clarifications didn’t stop the Spanish and Portuguese from enslaving and oppressing regardless. And yet, there are Catholics even on this forum who still persist in glorifying this so-called ‘Christian’ era. Now that is something the Church needs to be more apologetic about.

It is quite obvious the renegade nuns trot these historical issues out for no other reason but to denigrade the church.

Such historical objections are always narrowly focussed. Such calls for apology never end.

I would like to say where i’d like these nuns to go but it would be uncharitable, although totally appropriate…

It doesn’t help when conservative Catholics look longingly to these historical periods and deliberately ignore the underhanded disobedience of the supposedly religious colonizers.

These people are no better than modern cafeteria Catholics like me. And yet, why aren’t the likes of Mr. Conquistador being given the label? Why must it only be the liberal crowd that gets marked with the scarlet D of dissident?

I personally don’t care to push for any political agenda just to highlight these documents. It’s just that when the religious are going to go around accusing others of dissent, then they should at least shamefully admit that they’ve should’ve started before Cortez, Magellan, or Columbus ever set foot in their ships!

Not sure, because one can say Saracens were a race or nationality. Also, in the USA, before the civil war, there were priests in the south who held slaves and they were never excommunicated or suspended for doing so, AFAIK.

If you read the letters of St Paul you discover that the criticism of Catholics straying from the path started long before the time you are suggesting. Aggressive dissent is wrong then and it’s wrong today Lost Wanderer.

I’ve read enough revisionist, narrow minded and anti Catholic history from dissenting Catholics used to justify their own dissent to know that historical truth plays a long second to their own prejudice.

If it is, somebody should mail that reminder to the next Catholic who wants to bring back monarchy and believes the era prior to the colonial revolutions was the Golden Age of Christianity.

It wasn’t a heavenly time but it was an important time in the development of civilisation.

It saw the establishment of universities, hospitals, charities, the rise of science, banking and the establishment of companies.




No doubt it had its equivalent Rwandan genocides, AIDS epidemics and evil Stalinist revisionists.

I come from inside academia where until just recently the negative was constantly delivered to unsuspecting students, who then become radicalised anti Church. Such a time of education is where many of these feminist nuns come from. Hopefully such anti Catholic prejudice will end with them.

If some on this forum are defending the history of the Church it is probably largely to do with the fact that we were taught anti Catholic historical rubbish when we attended university. As Belloc said, if you want to straighten out a bent bar, you first have to bend it back the other way.

The bending back is in full swing but it must be truthful and in context.

I think the issue isn’t so much in the bending but that there are still other bars bent in the opposite direction.

After 50 years of western academic anti Christian propaganda its hard to find such bars.

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