Vatican revokes document subjugating indigenous

500th Anniversary

Check out the anniversary web page for papers on history and current issues regarding the Montesinos Anniversary.

New papers:

  • The Quest for Justice in a World of Poverty and Wealth: Judith Ann Brady, OP (Sparkill) reflects on wealth and poverty comparing the Dominican experiences of the early 1500s just coming to Hispaniola and our current desire to acquire riches in the 21st century.
  • Speaking Truth to Power: Ceil Lavan, OP (Blauvelt) writes about the current issue of Israel and Palestine and the injustices that plague the peoples of the Middle East.

Papal Bull of 1493 Rescinded

Lucianne Siers, OP

In recent consultations with the Holy See representatives at the United Nations in New York, we have come to know that The Papal Bull of 1493 (Inter Coetera) has been rescinded. This bull is a document issued by Pope Alexander VI which gave Spain the unlimited right to posses all undiscovered new land. This Papal Bull established Christian dominion and subjugation of non-Christian “pagan” peoples and their lands. In the past years, many indigenous and human rights advocates gathered to demand that the 1493 Papal Bull be revoked for it affects the lives of many indigenous around the world.

This document has led to the subjugation of innocent native people, who have been subjected to over 500 years of slavery, genocide, exploitation and a lost sense of identity. The justification of these atrocities by the Catholic Church through this document has left a devastating impact on native populations and also their cultures. This doctrine has allowed the explorers to take over the land of the indigenous resulting in a displacement of the natives. These lands hold a spiritual significance to the indigenous.

The Papal Bull has been rescinded and is no longer a document of value. This doctrine was revoked by the Sublimis Deus document of 1537 by Pope Paul III and reiterated by the Second Vatican Council, which states that “Indians and all other people who may later be discover by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property…” In a recent statement by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See dated April 27, 2010 confirms that the Papal Bull of 1493 Inter Coetera “has been revoked and considers it without any legal of doctrinal value…” Also, the Holy See will continue to be of support for the dignity and rights of indigenous peop le in accordance with Catholic social teachings.

Among many indigenous groups, the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers from all over the world (Alaska, North, South, and Central America, Africa and Asia) continuously strives to further their vision of protecting Mother Earth and the indigenous ways of life. On Oct. 1, 2004, The council came together and formed a global alliance. A year later in October 2005, The council sent a letter to the Vatican for the repeal of the papal doctrines. In June 2007, the council came together in South Dakota in an attempt to strengthen the prayers and unity of all people. A month later in July 2007, the council (a representative from the Lakota family) attended the National Organization for Women (NOW) Conference in hopes that the Vatican would rescind the 15th century Papal doctrine, specifically the Papal Bull of 1493.

To this date, originating from all four corners of the world, the 13 Grandmothers among many other indigenous groups and human rights advocates have come together in an effort to show support and restore spiritual values. The doctrine that once stood as an obstacle for social and moral development of the indigenous people is no longer in place.

Statement by Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See
Economic and Social Council, 9th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, New York, April 27, 2010

More information regarding the Papal Bull of 1493 may be found in this document:

In Evangelical Solidarity with the Oppressed: The Fifth Centenary Anniversary of the Arrival of the Order in America

Juan Manuel Péerez García, OP
Francisco Javier Martínez Real, OP

Lucianne Siers, OP, is Co-Promoter of Justice for North America and a member of the 500th Anniversary Steering Committee.