Steven Newcomb: Canonization in context of spiritual conquest

"When Pope Benedict XVI canonizes Kateri Tekawitha (1656-1680) this month, she will be declared the Catholic Church’s first American Indian saint. What is the historical context of her beatification? It is the more than 500 year crusade for the spiritual conquest and domination of Indigenous nations and peoples.

Kateri Tekawitha’s canonization event will be a crowning achievement in what the Church now euphemistically calls “the evangelization of the Americas.” The true nature of the Catholic missionary process is revealed, however, in Pope Alexander VI’s call for “barbarous nations” to be overthrown (deprimantur) and reduced (reducere) for the propagation of the Christian empire (christiani emperii).

Another document issued by Pope Alexander VI declared that such dominating actions were to be applied to lands that were “not under the actual temporal domination of any Christian dominator” (sub dominio actuali temporali aliquorum dominorum christianorum constitute non sinct).

Additional insight into the Catholic Church’s mission during the time of Kateri’s life is revealed through the story of Juan María Salvatierra (1648-1717), a Jesuit missionary who was a major personality in the mission process. He exerted tremendous energy in Mexico City, where he was president of a university, and in Baja California where he dedicated himself to a vision of building a theocratic state."

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Kateri Tekawitha: Canonization in the Context of Spiritual Conquest (Indian Country Today 10/20)

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