Jodi Rave: Grandmothers seek help from Pope Benedict
"Thirteen indigenous grandmothers from around the world will arrive at the Vatican on Wednesday to ask the pope to end more than five centuries of “power and domination” over indigenous people.

“We carry this message for Pope Benedict XVI, traveling with the spirits of our ancestors,” said the women in a statement to the pope. “While praying at the Vatican for peace, we are praying for all peoples. We are here at the Vatican, humbly, not as representatives of indigenous nations, but as women of prayer.”

The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers will gather in St. Peter's Square for prayer in the morning. They also plan to deliver a 632-word statement to the pope asking him to repeal three Christian-based doctrines of “discovery” and “conquest” that set the foundation to claim land occupied by indigenous people around the world.

The grandmothers said the documents - a series of papal bulls written by the Catholic church beginning in the 1400s - continue to affect indigenous peoples on all continents. The papal bulls “set into motion perceptions and relationships based on power and domination that are still the basis of legal systems all around the globe,” according to the council.

The trip to Rome isn't the grandmothers' first attempt to reach out to Vatican officials. In 2005, they asked Cardinal Walter Kasper in a letter to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. But the Vatican has never publicly acknowledged that the church's documents laid the foundation to destroy indigenous cultures and land bases, said Steven Newcomb, co-founder of the Indigenous Law Institute in San Diego.

“Those documents provide a template and cornerstone to federal Indian law and policy and the way it has been developed in the United States and other nation states through the use of the doctrine of Christian discovery and dominion” said Newcomb."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Indigenous grandmothers to solicit pope for support (The Missoulian 7/9)

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