World church council disowns Doctrine of Discovery
GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Council of Churches Executive Committee in February released a statement that denounced the “Doctrine of Discovery,” which gave explorers the right to claim lands they discovered.
These historical church documents titled “Dum Diversas” and “Romanus Pontifex” called for non-Christian people to be captured, vanquished and to have their possessions and property seized by the Christian monarchs.
The Executive Committee issued a statement calling the nature of the doctrine “fundamentally opposed to the gospel of Jesus.” The statement was issued in a meeting from Feb. 14-18 in Switzerland, urging to reject the doctrine. The statement also points out that, “Christopher Columbus was instructed, for example, to discover and conquer, subdue and acquire distant lands.”
The origin of the doctrine goes back to the papal bulls issued by Pope Nicholas V in 1452 and 1455, which allowed the invasion, enslavement and killing of the Indigenous Peoples when Native America was discovered.
Calling the “Doctrine of Discovery” a violation of human rights, the statement supports the “rights of Indigenous Peoples to live in and retain their traditional lands and territories and to maintain and enrich their cultures.”
European countries such as Spain, Portugal, England, France and Holland used the doctrine.