Romanus Pontifex


#1

This document encouarged the enslavement of natives, but a later document condemned slavery. Is this proof that the Church is not infallible?


#2

There’s a difference between chattel slavery (which has always been condemned as a sin) and other forms of involuntary servitude.

Here’s a good article:
catholic.com/thisrock/1999/9907fea2.asp


#3

The witches mentioned in Summis desiderantes affectibus.


#4

Slavery: in Romanus Pontifex, it mentions the encouragement of slavery of natives. Explain?


#5

Perhaps you can provide the passage where Christ condemned slavery.


#6

Here is a start.

Sicut Dudum Given by His Holiness Pope Eugene IV
1435

…We order and command all and each of the faithful… within the space of fifteen days of the publication of these letters in the place where they live, that they restore to their earlier liberty all and each person… who were once residents of said Canary Islands, and made captives since the time of their capture, and who have been made subject to slavery.

Sublimus Dei Given by His Holiness Pope Paul III
1537

The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction… inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South… should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith…

We… consider, however, that the Indians are truly men…

We define and declare by these Our letters… 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… 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.

continued…


#7

In Supremo Apostolatus Given by His Holiness Gregory XVI 1839

But as the law of the Gospel universally and earnestly enjoined a sincere charity towards all… not only that Christians should regard as their brothers their slaves… but that they should… set free those who merited it; which it was the custom to do chiefly upon the occasion of the Easter Feast as Gregory of Nyssa tells us…

It is at these practices [of slavery] that are aimed the Letter Apostolic of Paul III… and afterwards another Letter, more detailed, addressed by Urban VIII… to the Collector Jurium of the Apostolic Chamber of Portugal. In the latter are severely and particularly condemned those who should dare ‘to reduce to slavery the Indians of the Eastern and Southern Indies,’ to sell them, buy them, exchange them or give them, separate them from their wives and children, despoil them of their goods and properties, conduct or transport them into other regions, or deprive them of liberty in any way whatsoever, retain them in servitude, or lend counsel, succour, favour and co-operation to those so acting, under no matter what pretext or excuse, or who proclaim and teach that this way of acting is allowable and co-operate in any manner whatever in the practices indicated…

Benedict XIV…and Pius II address grave warnings [AD 1741 and 1462] with regard to Christians who should reduce neophytes to slavery. In our time Pius VII… intervened zealously with those in possession of power to secure that the slave trade should at least cease amongst the Christians…

We warn… that no one in the future dare to… reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour.

We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices abovementioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.

continued…


#8

In Plurimis [1888] by Pope Leo XII. Here His Holiness speaks of the Church’s history of desiring freedom and brotherhood for all persons.

“For you are all the children of God by faith, in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew, nor Greek; there is neither bond, nor free; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:26-28)

…the Church, like a tender mother, went on to try to find some alleviation for the sorrows and the disgrace of the life of the slave; with this end in view she clearly defined and strongly enforced the rights and mutual duties of masters and slaves as they are laid down in the letters of the Apostles… (1 Peter 2:18; Eph 6:5-8; 1 Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10)

Whoever compare the pagan and the Christian attitude toward slavery will easily come to the conclusion that the one was marked by great cruelty and wickedness, and the other by great gentleness and humanity, nor will it be possible to deprive the Church of the credit due to her as the instrument of this happy change…

Lactantius AD 240-320] could not have maintained it so confidently, as though a witness of it. "Should any one say: Are there not among you some poor, some rich, some slaves, some who are masters; is there no difference between different persons? I answer: There is none, nor is there any other cause why we call each other by the name of brother than that we consider ourselves to be equals…

The care of the Church extended to the protection of slaves, and without interruption tended carefully to one object, that they should finally be restored to freedom… That the event happily responded to these efforts, the annals of sacred antiquity afford abundant proof. Noble matrons, rendered illustrious by the praises of St. Jerome AD 340-420] themselves afforded great aid in carrying this matter into effect; so that as Salvian relates, in Christian families, even though not very rich, it often happened that the slaves were freed by a generous manumission.

Wherefore, in addition to the fact that the act of manumission began to take place in churches as an act of piety, the Church ordered it to be proposed to the faithful when about to make their wills, as a work very pleasing to God and of great merit and value with Him… Neither was anything grudged as the price of the captives, gifts dedicated to God were sold, consecrated gold and silver melted down, the ornaments and gifts of the basilicas alienated, as, indeed, was done more than once by Ambrose 374 to 397], Augustine [AD [COLOR=#000000]354-430], Hilary [AD 368-?], Eligius, Patrick [AD 387-493], and many other holy men

.

Moreover, the Roman Pontiffs, who have always acted, as history truly relates, as the protectors of the weak and helpers of the oppressed, have done their best for slaves. St. Gregory himself set at liberty as many as possible…

Hadrian I maintained that slaves could freely enter into matrimony even without their masters’ consent. It was clearly ordered by Alexander III in the year 1167 to the Moorish King of Valencia that he should not make a slave of any Christian…

Innocent III [1190] … approved and established the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for Redeeming Christians who had fallen into the power of the Turks… Honorius III [AD 1227], and, afterwards, Gregory IX [AD [COLOR=#000000]1145-1241]

, duly approved the Order of St. Mary of Help, founded for a similar purpose… St. Gregory passed a decree… that it was unlawful to sell slaves to the Church, and he further added an exhortation to the faithful that, as a punishment for their faults, they should give their slaves to God and His saints as an act of expiation…

end of post


#9

From the sources I’ve read, this is how I’d describe infalibility:

The Church can stumble, but it can never fall.


#10

From the This Rock article linked to above:

Let My People Go: The Catholic Church and Slavery

…we should be clear about what we mean by slavery and the real story of the Catholic Church’s position on it.

As used here, “slavery” is the condition of involuntary servitude in which a human being is regarded as no more than the property of another, as being without basic human rights; in other words, as a thing rather than a person.

Under this definition, slavery is intrinsically evil, since no person may legitimately be reduced to the status of a mere thing or object and thus become capable of being the property of another person. This form of slavery can be called “chattel slavery”…

…However, there are circumstances in which a person can justly be compelled to servitude against his will. Prisoners of war or criminals, for example, can justly lose their circumstantial freedom and be forced into servitude, within certain limits. Moreover, people can also “sell” their labor for a period of time (indentured servitude)…

Nicholas V refers to wars in Romanus Pontifex. Matters of war and imprisonment are prudential teachings, not infallible teachings.

Just because a pope speaks, does not necessary mean that he speaks infallibly. The pope has made two ex cathedra pronouncements in the history of the Church: both were on Mary.

Here is some information on infallibility.


#11

Bookmarked.


#12

[quote=dominikus28]This document encouarged the enslavement of natives, but a later document condemned slavery. Is this proof that the Church is not infallible?
[/quote]

Matters of war and imprisonment are prudential teachings, not infallible teachings.

Just because a pope speaks, does not necessary mean that he speaks infallibly. The pope has made two ex cathedra pronouncements in the history of the Church: both were on Mary.

Here is some information on infallibility.


#13

Excellent point.


#14

It looks like there are a lot of teachings which are not “infallible”, but still they were teachings of the Church, and later on they were changed (for the better). It is true that the Church has taught against slavery, but I guess that it is also true that it has not done so consistently?
For example:
362 AD
The local Council at Gangra in Asia Minor excommunicates
anyone encouraging a slave to despise his master or withdraw
from his service. (Became part of Church Law from the 13th
century).
650 AD
Pope Martin I condemns people who teach slaves about freedom
or who encourage them to escape.
1089 AD
The Synod of Melfi under Pope Urban II imposed slavery on the
wives of priests. (Became part of Church Law from the 13th
century).
1226 AD
The legitimacy of slavery is incorporated in the Corpus Iuris
Canonici, promulgated by Pope Gregory IX which remained
official law of the Church until 1913. Canon lawyers worked out
four just titles for holding slaves: slaves captured in war, persons
condemned to slavery for a crime; persons selling themselves into
slavery, including a father selling his child; children of a mother
who is a slave.
1454 AD
Through the bull Romanus Pontifex, Pope Nicholas V authorises
the king of Portugal to enslave all the Saracen and pagan peoples
his armies may conquer.
1866 AD
The Holy Office in an instruction signed by Pope Pius IX
declares: Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature,
is not at all contary to the natural and divine law, and there can
be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by
approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons …
It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be
sold, bought, exchanged or given".
So, it looks like the teaching on slavery has changed for the better because today it is taught that it is wrong to enslave people.


#15

[quote=bobzills]It looks like there are a lot of teachings which are not “infallible”, but still they were teachings of the Church, and later on they were changed (for the better).
[/quote]

What’s your point? Infallible teachings for those who do not want to read the explanation at the link I provided above can be summed up as the Truth Always and Everywhere.

The teaching on war and on imprisonment is not true always and everywhere. These kinds of teachings are called prudential teachings; they are not infallible teachings. That is why tools like Just War Doctrine and the Principle of Double Effect are applied in each circumstance of time and place.

As for the many examples you have given of the Church changing Her mind on teachings which have were not true always and everywhere, I have gone to a lot of trouble to provide ample links.

If you don’t mind, I would ask if you would be kind enough to also provide links. That way we can respond to your points of view. What is your point of view, btw? That would help. Thank you.

PS: I hope you have accounted for the different ways in which the term ‘slavery’ has been applied, as I pointed out earlier.


#16

I’ve just read this document for the first time.

It seems to have very very little to do with slavery.

In fact it is only mentioned once seemingly in passing.

It says in a very long sentence about what King Alfonso has been empowered by the Church to do:

“we…by our letters…granted…faculty…to…King Alfonso…to…subdue all Saracens and pagans…and other enemies of Chirst…and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery…”

This particular “slavery” of prisioners of war, at least seems to me to be quite different from an endorsement of the “sub-human” treatment of slaves that was later vehemently condemned by the Church.

You can argue that the Pope should not have been advocating the “subdual” of the “Saracens and pagans…and other enemies of Christ” but this is certainly not a document about the chruches endorsement of slavery.

Chuck


#17

Bobzills has obtained a response about the Church’s historical teaching on slavery on the current “papal” bull thread, which response I will paste in here, in case Bob didn’t see it the first time around:

[quote=DJim]The issue of “slavery” is significantly more nuanced than this–the teaching of the Church on slavery has not changed, actually. Part of the problem is the meaning of the word “slavery”, which can refer both to the intrinsically evil and unjust form of racial slavery of US history, as well as to the just forms of servitude found elsewhere in history. The 1866 document to which you refer above actually is not a universal teaching document in faith and morals, but nonetheless the document does properly convey the Church’s teaching on slavery, as one would expect.

The teaching hasn’t changed. The Church has always condemned unjust servitude while maintaining that just servitude is not contrary to natural or divine law.
[/quote]

Hope this helps.


#18

Bobzills, I’m just going to take your first example of the Church “changing” her teaching:

I do not know what this sentence means, Bob. The Church has formally taught nothing which was not infallible. To continue…

[quote=Bobzills], and later on they (the teachings) were changed (for the better). It is true that the Church has taught against slavery, but I guess that it is also true that it has not done so consistently?
For example:
362 AD
The** local Council **at Gangra in Asia Minor excommunicates
anyone encouraging a slave to despise his master or withdraw
from his service.
[/quote]

A local council does not a Church Teaching make.

[quote=bobzills] (Became part of Church Law from the 13th
century).
[/quote]

well, I do not know this, myself, and I seriously doubt you know it from any primary source. But it’s irrelevant EVEN IF IT WERE PART OF CHURCH LAW, that would not make it part of CHURCH TEACHING.
Seriously, Bob, you need to figure out what Catholics mean by Infallible Teaching (especially as opposed to Discipline–hint, anything having to do with law has to do with discipline first of all.)


#19

You need to know why bobzills is on this crusade to prove the Church often changes its teachings-There are doctirnes he wants chaged and the best way to promote that is to tear down Church teachings. It appears he is very much in favor of female ordination, for instance. His tirade about the Church and Slavery was cut n pasted verbatim from womenpriests.org/teaching/slavery1.asp

In fact nearly EVERY Single post wherein he quotes Church Teachings ,in this and other threads. that have allegedly changed has been cut n pasted verbatim from this site.


#20

Not true.
The Church has taught many things that are not infallible, but still are to be held by the faithful.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.