April 03, 2023
Vatican repudiates discovery doctrine
Aotearoa’s five Catholic bishops says they strongly support the Vatican’s repudiation of the concept of the “Doctrine of Discovery” which was used by European powers to take over many lands from their indigenous owners.
The Doctrine of Discovery arose from bulls or decrees by Pope Nicholas V in 1455 and Pope Alexander VI in 1493 granting European monarchs the authority to seize inhabited lands in Africa and the Americas, establish European colonies and convert the people of those lands to Christianity.
Those bulls were rejected by Pope Paul III in 1537, but the Vatican says they were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers to justify immoral acts against indigenous peoples, especially in the nineteenth century.
It says renewed dialogue with indigenous peoples has helped the Church to understand better their values and cultures, including their concern that the discovery concept be addressed.
The New Zealand bishops say there have been calls in recent years by Māori leaders for the Catholic Church to reject the doctrine.
Claire Charters, the Human Rights Commission’s indigenous rights governance partner, says the doctrine was the only basis on which the Crown could claim sovereignty in 1840, and it was a source of inequality that Māori continue to experience today