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Section Four / of  Five :
The Church's barbaric treatment of Slaves
(i.e. Africans and Native Americans)

Whether it is through ignorance or by reason of amnesia many Roman Catholics labor under the illusion - fostered by their hierarchy - that their church has always believed and acted in the past the way that it does now, when in fact the Catholic Church has believed the very opposite of what it does now.and acted accordingly.

        Here is the perfect illustration of that truth:

the History of the Catholic Church's official views on Human Slavery:

    Who can deny the influence of the epistles of St. Paul on the church?
  • { Titus 2:9-10 : }   "Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior."
  • { Ephesians 6: 5-8 : }   "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.  Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free."
  • { 1 Cor. 7: 21–24 : }   "Were you a slave when called?  Do not be concerned about it.  Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.  For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ.  You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.  In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God."
  • { 1 Tim. 6:1-5 : }   "Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed.  Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.  Teach and urge these duties.Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words.  From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth."
And now for Roman Catholic "TRADITION",
the teaching transmitted through the generations :
( supposedly from Jesus Christ )
362 AD The local Council at Gangra in Asia Minor excommunicates anyone encouraging a slave to despise his master or withdraw from his service. (Became part of Church Law from the 13th to 20th centuries).
354-430 St. Augustine teaches that the institution of slavery derives from God and is beneficial to slaves and masters. (Quoted by many later Popes as proof of "Tradition".
650 Pope Martin I condemns people who teach slaves about freedom or who encourage them to escape.
1089 The Synod of Melfi under Pope Urban II imposed slavery on the wives of priests. (Became part of Church Law from the 13th century).
1179 The Third Lateran Council imposed slavery on those helping the Saracens.
1226 The legitimacy of slavery is incorporated in the Corpus Iuris Canonici, promulgated by Pope Gregory IX which remained official law of the Church until 1913. Canon lawyers worked out four "just titles" for holding slaves: slaves captured in war, persons condemned to slavery for a crime; persons selling themselves into slavery, including a father selling his child; children of a mother who is a slave.
1224-1274 St.Thomas Aquinas defends slavery as instituted by God in punishment for sin, and justified as being part of the ‘right of nations’ and natural law. Children of a slave mother are rightly slaves even though they have not committed personal sin!  (Quoted by many later Popes).
1435 Pope Eugenius IV condemns the indiscriminate enslavement of natives in the Canary Islands, but does not condemn slavery as such.

Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas on 18 June, 1452. It authorised (King) Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any "Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers to perpetual slavery. The same pope wrote the bull Romanus Pontifex on January 5, 1455 to the same Alfonso. As a follow-up to the Dum diversas, it extended to the Catholic nations of Europe dominion over discovered lands during the Age of Discovery. Along with sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian lands, it encouraged the enslavement of native, non-Christian peoples in Africa and the New World.
    "We weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso -- to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit -- by having secured the said faculty, the said King Alfonso, or, by his authority, the aforesaid infante, justly and lawfully has acquired and possessed, and doth possess, these islands, lands, harbors, and seas, and they do of right belong and pertain to the said King Alfonso and his successors".

1493 Pope Alexander VI authorises the King of Spain to enslave non-Christians of the Americas who are at war with Christian powers.
1537 Pope Paul III condemns the indiscriminate enslavement of Indians in South America.
1548 The same Pope Paul III confirms the right of clergy and laity to own slaves.
1639 Pope Urban VIII denounces the indiscriminate enslavement of Indians in South America, without denying the four ‘just titles’ for owning slaves.
1741 Pope Benedict XIV condemns the indiscriminate enslavement of natives in Brazil, but does not denounce slavery as such, nor the importation of slaves from Africa.
1807 (Protestant) Britain became the first major power to permanently abolish the slave trade.   [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Revolution#
Situation_in_1789 ]
1839 Pope Gregory XVI condemns the international negro slave trade (in an inconsequential manner). See the endnote below
1866 The Holy Office in an instruction signed by Pope Pius IX declares:
Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given".

The turnaround

1888 Pope Leo XIII condemns slavery in more general terms, and supports the anti-slavery movement.
1918 The new Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope Benedictus XV condemns ‘selling any person as a slave’. (There is no condemnation of ‘owning’ slaves, however, and that was viewed as an entirely distinct issue at the time!).

The Second Vatican Council defends basic human rights and denounces all violations of human integrity, including slavery (Gaudium et Spes, no 27,29,67).

Table prepared by John Wijngaards, with data from: J.F.Maxwell,
The Development of Catholic Doctrine concerning Slavery
World Jurist 11 (1969-70)  pp. 147-192 and 291-324.
[ from http://www.womenpriests.org/teaching/slavery1.asp ]

Catholicism and the Old South"

Note re:Pope Gregory XVI's 1839 "Apostolic Letter" condemning the slave trade was only addressed to the dozen U.S. bishops meeting in "the 4th Provincial Council of Baltimore". In the eyes of this pope everything that happened to slaves over the centuries happened in spite of his church and its popes, and any relief slaves had enjoyed or could hope for would come from those same holy people and institutions.
        In supremo apostolatus was so inconsequential - even to the council where it was promulgated - that the wikipedia summary of that council (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provincial_Councils_of_Baltimore) doesn't even mention it.

        The following are excerpts from a web site designed to promote both the old Catholic Church and the old South:

"President (Jefferson) Davis was not without solace during confinement.  A rosary sent by some sisters in Savannah reached him.  More notably, comfort was extended by the Vicar of Christ himself, Ven. Pope Pius IX.  It took the form of a crown of thorns woven by the pope with his own hands and a portrait of the pontiff autographed with the words from Scripture, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." . . .  The crown, with thorns about two inches long, is such that it is hard to see how the pope could have fashioned it without hurting himself.
        Why did this pope who is a Venerable of the Church . . . seek to comfort Davis, who was not a Catholic?  . . .  (It should be noted that he was the only European prince of the day to recognize at least in a de facto way the Southern nation, the Confederate States of America.) . . .  His father sent him as a boy to Kentucky to be schooled by Dominicans.  While among them young Davis - he was but nine asked to be received into the Church. His desire was not realized. . .
        Certainly the Catholic Bishops of the South were sympathetic. There is no record of any failing to support the Confederacy. One of them, Bishop Patrick Lynch of Charleston, South Carolina, became President Davis' envoy to Ven. Pope Pius IX. . . "heroes of the fighting like the twenty Confederate generals who were Catholic, including, very notably, Gen. James Longstreet, a convert,"
        "The song Dixie, virtually the national anthem of the South, was written by a Catholic, Dan Emmet."   [ from http://www.catholicism.org/catholicism-south.html ]

I haven't examined the evidence closely enough to make an informed judgment about it, but there are some who argue that the plot to assinate, not only President Lincoln, but many other leaders of his administration was orchestrated and carried out almost exclusively by Roman Catholics, not just from the South, but from Rome and from the Catholic province of Quebec in Canada.

The role of the Christian churches in the practice of human slavery in the Americas is deplorable and needs to be exposed. But since we have already done that elsewere, rather than repeat it here, we refer you to the Church and slavery in the Americas.

This page about the issue of slavery
is just one of my Five Part series on
the barbarism of the Roman Catholic Church over the centuries .

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