(LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis’ Vatican has issued a new statement repudiating three 15th century papal bulls that many Indigenous groups in Canada have accused of paving the way for the European settlement of North America.

The statement, published Monday by the Vatican’s Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development, renounced the “Doctrine of Discovery,” a non-doctrinal, political concept found in the papal bulls Dum Diversas (1452), Romanus Pontifex (1455), and Inter Caetera (1493).


VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican on Thursday responded to Indigenous demands and formally repudiated the “Doctrine of Discovery,” the theories backed by 15th-century “papal bulls” that legitimized the colonial-era seizure of Native lands and form the basis of some property laws today.

A Vatican statement said the papal bulls, or decrees, “did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples” and have never been considered expressions of the Catholic faith.


During a papal Mass last July in Canada, some Indigenous protesters unfurled a banner calling for Pope Francis to “rescind the doctrine,” by which they meant the “doctrine of discovery.”

In response to that and more decorous requests, two Vatican dicasteries — Culture and Education and Promoting Integral Human Development — published a “joint statement” last week on the matter, stating that the Catholic Church “repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples, including what has become known as the legal and political ‘doctrine of discovery.’”

Why would Canadian Indigenous groups be concerned about a so-called “doctrine” that has its roots in papal concessions to the king of Portugal in the 1450s concerning Africa, well before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492?