Repudiate the “Doctrine of Discovery”: an Open Letter to Pope Francis
The “Doctrine of Discovery” of 1493, also known as the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera”, was issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493. It is arguably the most damaging policy ever enacted in human history. In fact, the 1493 Papal Bull stated that land that was not inhabited by Christians could be claimed and exploited in order to expand and instill the Christian faith. Without doubt this was the justification for European/western expansion that resulted in pain, suffering, exploitation and mass extermination. The effects of this dreadful doctrine are felt to this day.
As a descendent of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, I am one who can affirm the negativity of this Papal Bull being felt even until this present moment. Your Holiness, I am asking you in the name of Jesus Christ, that you repudiate this doctrine immediately to stop the hemorrhaging of people worldwide. In fact, “Peter opened (his) mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34 – KJV) and therefore stating that God is not biased of individuals or of one group of people over another.
Your Holiness, over the past year I have visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) three times. In 1921, Jesus Christ visited a deacon by the name of Simon Kimbangu in Nkamba, Congo. Deacon Kimbangu was commissioned by God into His service to renew their strength because they had fallen into apostasy. Consequently, Deacon Kimbangu was accused of inciting riots and convincing the people not to pay taxes. As a result, he was placed in prison and later on given a death sentence, which was commuted to life. After serving 30 years, he died in a Belgian controlled prison.
After the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, the Papal Bull of 1493 helped further to enable King Leopold II to legitimize his claim of ownership of the DRC and unrepentantly to treat those in the Congo with devastating atrocities almost directed toward extermination – except that he wanted some of them as oppressed workers. Over the next 23 years, up to 10 million citizens of the DRC were murdered!
This edict, or doctrine, Your Holiness, declared by the Roman Catholic Church more than 600 years ago, was infiltrated and adopted into European Christian nations solely for the purpose of having a legal basis to confiscate properties that would be in their best interest at any time, and, according to its language, served to devalue and dehumanize peoples and societies of color. Non-compliance to this doctrine would result in various forms of persecution, including slavery and death.
In fact, the 1493 “The Doctrine of Discovery” Papal Bull was part of an on-going justification of this oppression as stated by Thomas Aquinas in 1271: “Unbelievers deserve not only to be separated from the church, but also to be exterminated from the world by death.”
Your Holiness, this position as expressed in the Papal Bull has led to several ills in this world, namely Slavery, Unjust Treatment, Poverty, Discrimination, Apartheid, Separate But Equal Laws, Jim Crow, Financial Ruin, Massacres and much more. To justify the cruelty of slavery and subjugation of Africans, the slaveholders, for one, claimed that Africans were not human and therefore could be used and abused in any way the slaveholders so desired. This cruelty was for, as you know, the financial gain of slaveholders at the expense of others and the slaveholders very own humanity. Many of the slaveholders also claimed to be Christian and obvisouly chose to accept the ongoing concepts of major doctrines, such as the Papal Bull of 1493, as a rationale for their behavior.
As mentioned, people of color throughout the world still suffer from these ills. Historically, and in the 20th and 21rst centuries alone, all of this has been importantly coupled with countless reactions to this oppression such as Sit-ins, Marches, Occupy Movements and many other collective actions in the United States and internationally. Yet, the oppression continues.
In 1776, the “Declaration of Independence” of the United States forthrightly declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Your repudiation of the “The Doctrine of Discovery” would also help us in America to further enforce and enshrine the “Declaration of Independence” and to then help spread this compelling statement and sentiment throughout the world.
Your Holiness, in the name of Jesus Christ, I ask that you consider going to Nkamba in the Congo and address the Kimbanguist Church that numbers some 22 million adherents worldwide. The poverty that exists in that Nation is due directly and solely to this unjust “doctrine”, and, in my opinion, pains the very heart of God!
Upon repudiating the Bull of 1493, therefore, I pray you will also consider going to Belgium and entreat that government, including King Philippe Leopold Louis Marie, to begin the healing process for the people of the DRC.
You have declared 2016 as a year of Jubilee. Luke 4:18-19 states, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted to preach deliverance to the captive, and the recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” I cannot think of a better way to honor this declaration of 2016 as a year of Jubilee than by a Papal repudiation of the “Doctrine of Discovery.”
Your Holiness, the above concerns and issues are worldwide precepts, and we cannot be satisfied until we let “justice roll on like many waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing river” (Amos 5:24).
I also respectively request to meet with you, along with a delegation of like-minded people, to discuss with you this significant matter.
With every good wish to your Holiness, I am,
Deacon Joe Beasley
Antioch Baptist Church North
Atlanta Georgia, USA
404 218 3997
Google: Joe Beasley
Additional contact: Heather Gray
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