Call on His Holiness Pope Francis To Rescind The Doctrine of Discovery

Call on His Holiness Pope Francis To Rescind The Doctrine of Discovery

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Lynda Morrissey started this petition to His Holiness Pope Francis

Dear Beloved Your Holiness Pope Francis,

We thank you for your recent apology to the Indigenous People of Canada, acknowledging "the Church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness."

This heartfelt apology is welcomed, and it is only the first step. Each one of the First Nation's peoples dignified "calls to action" need to be met for the church to return to peace, reconciliation, and integrity.

We thank you for your apology to Indigenous Peoples in your 2015 visit to Bolivia, for the crimes committed by the Institution of the Catholic Church against Indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas. 

We thank you for writing your encyclicals on Sisterhood and Brotherhood (Fratelli Tutti), and Caring For Our Common Home (Laudato Si'). 

We now urge you to ensure the Institution of the Catholic Church takes full responsibility for it's colonial history, oppression, and cultural genocide of indigenous children and people.

We also urge you to make apology and reconciliation to anyone around the world who experienced physical, spiritual, cultural, emotional and/or sexual abuse in Catholic-run residential schools, including at home here in Ireland. 

Among the calls to action that have been requested of you for some time include, reparations and investment, accountability for those who perpetrated abuse at Catholic-run schools, and the return of sacred indigenous artefacts from the Vatican.

In this petition, we the undersigned add our voices to Indigenous Communities, and to all people of good will, peace, and restorative justice worldwide who call on you to Rebuke and Rescind the Doctrine of Discovery, without delay. 

The Doctrine of Discovery gave clemency to Christopher Columbus and subsequent explorers to the Americas to subdue, kill, and abuse native people.

It has been used for centuries to expropriate indigenous lands and facilitate their transfer to dominating colonizing nations. 

This doctrine led to the violent assimilation of native children into residential boarding schools. It has been used to justify both political and personal violence against Indigenous nations, Indigenous peoples and their culture.

The Doctrine of Discovery began as a series of 15th-century papal edicts, and later was enshrined in the 1823 Supreme Court, which established that the US government determined ownership of property - not Native American nations. 

The Doctrine of Discovery still exists today as a legal framework with Christian theological roots that has subsequently led to institutional injustices whose legacies persist. It still legitimizes the unjust exploitation of Indigenous peoples.

The Roman Catholic Church had a direct hand in launching this practice. This means that you, Your Holiness Pope Francis, have a very real unique responsibility and duty as leader of the Catholic Church to dismantle it, for the good of all of life.

Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery is a crucial step toward healing, redemption and reconciliation. Grace will be blocked from flowing into our communities until this critical action is completed.

The Institution of the Catholic Church has ignored our responsibility for far too long, and we the undersigned will not be complicit. 

We call on you, from our love, to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery.

Other religious groups and Christian dominations have already rebuked the Doctrine of Discovery, including: The United Methodist Church, The Episcopal Church USA, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, Community of Christ, Evangelical Covenant Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have officially condemned the doctrine, and a number of Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) meetings have all passed resolutions condemning the teachings. 

In doing so too, beloved Pope Francis, yours and our blessed vision of Sisterhood and Brotherhood, and Caring For Our Common Home, will have more of a possibility of coming to fruition. 

With great love and respect,
Lynda Ní Mhuigheasa

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