Steven Newcomb: Pope Francis must address legacy of domination

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Pope Francis on Instagram: 'The value of indigenous communities needs to be recognized and their full participation in society supported'

Pope Francis made news last month by calling on governments to secure "prior and informed consent" from indigenous peoples before making decisions affecting their interests. But Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute says the statement doesn't go far enough in addressing the Catholic Church's role in subjugating tribal nations:
Last month, Pope Francis greeted Indigenous Peoples’ representatives in Rome. At the time, Francis issued a statement that was widely viewed as him tacitly indicating his support for Standing Rock in the dispute regarding Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Although Pope Francis did not mention that specific controversy, he did say that the “right to prior and informed consent” should prevail “when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the Earth.”

What the news about the pope’s excellent statement left out of focus, however, is the Vatican’s role in setting into motion a global order of domination that continues to be used by state governments and corporations to oppress Indigenous nations and peoples. In order for the pope to make a more profound contribution to global dialogue about Indigenous Peoples, it seems to me that he ought to explicitly discuss the global system of domination traced to the Vatican papal decrees issued by Pope Francis’s predecessors.

Here’s the scenario, the Vatican is a massive institution with a billion followers and tremendous global influence. Over the course of many centuries, that institution promulgated and maintained a mindset of domination and dehumanization. That mindset resulted in specific documents issued by that institution, documents that are easily accessible today through the internet.

Read More on the Story:
Steven Newcomb: The Vatican and Its Legacy of Domination (Indian Country Media Network 3/20)

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