Pope Francis Takes Historic Step, Apologizes To Indigenous Americans For ‘Grave Sins’ Of The Church

In July, Pope Francis visited Bolivia to attend a convention dedicated to indigenous empowerment and grassroots activism. Meeting with Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, Francis officially offered his personal apologies and condolences for the Catholic Church’s “sins” and “offenses” committed against indigenous people in the Americas, saying:

“Grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God…I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America… I also want for us to remember the thousands and thousands of priests who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the power of the cross. There was sin, and it was plentiful. But we never apologized, so I now ask for forgiveness. But where there was sin, and there was plenty of sin, there was also an abundant grace increased by the men who defended indigenous peoples.”

There is no doubt in the sincerity from this Pope, who has dedicated his papacy to inclusion, compassion and mutual respect for all persons. Although Francis’s apology is an amazing step in moving on from a dark past, it is not the first apology the Church has offered. In 1992, on his trip to the Dominican Republic, Saint John Paul II apologized to the South American continent’s indigenous people for oppression and “pain and suffering.” However, in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI drew criticism when he defended the Church’s occupation, saying the indigenous people have secretly been “longing” to become Christian.

The conference’s indigenous leader, Adolfo Chavez, said, “We accept the apologies that are more than we could have hoped for from a man like Pope Francis.”

Many found the apology to be especially meaningful, considering backlash the Vatican was receiving over its plans to canonize 18th century Spanish priest Junipero Serra, a brutal missionary who wiped out indigenous villages that did not convert to Christianity.

Francis’s compassion to all those in the world is shown every day, and this sincere apology is an amazing first step at correcting all the wrong the church had done to South American continent and its people.

 Featured image via Wikipedia