Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bendict's not quite apology

I think many of us were taken aback by Benedict XVI's comments about the spiritual benefits of the colonization of the America's. It showed little if any understanding of the context of the "evangelization" of the Americas, the absolute devastation of the indigenous population, and the complete disregard for the non-coercive nature of the gospel.

Well Benedict has clarified things a bit -- admitting that mistakes were made and that there was a dark side to the evangelization of the Americas. It's a start, but as with his earlier statements about Islam, show how much his eurocentric perspective colors his view of the world.

The LA Times runs a helpful article by Tracy Wilkinson this morning. According to the article Benedict said:
"It is not possible to forget the sufferings and injustices inflicted by the colonizers on the indigenous population, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled upon," the pope said. "Certainly, the memory of a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompanied the work of evangelizing the Latin American continent."

Still, he said, recognizing the sins should not detract from the good achieved by the missionaries: "Mentioning this must not prevent us from acknowledging with gratitude the marvelous work accomplished by the divine grace among these people in the course of these centuries," he said.
The Times also prints an op-ed piece by Lewis & Clark Law School Professor Robert Miller. Miller is an Eastern Shawnee and Chief Justice of the Grand Ronde tribe (an Oregon based tribe). In that piece Miller makes it clear that Benedict's statements aren't sufficient and don't go far enough in recognizing the devastating nature of the forced conversions of Native Americans. It is interesting that Miller points to three grants made by Pope Alexander VI authorizing the conquest and thereby the evangelization of the Americas. Alexander VI is also known as Rodrigo Borgia, one of the most corrupt figures the church has ever known.

When we Christians criticize the spread Islam at the point of the sword, we must acknowledge our own propensity to do the same!

2 comments:

Mystical Seeker said...

What's with Benedict's refusal to apologize? Is he afraid it would diminish his authority somehow if he admitted that he made a boo-boo?

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

My sense is that it's not a problem of refusing to apologize is that he doesn't get the problem. As with his response to Islam he's working off a different set of parameters that blinds him to the issues. Thee is an excellent bit of analysis of this problem by David Burrell in the most recent issue of Christian Century.