Posted by: Lister | May 19, 2007

Joseph Ratzinger — the Pure?

I saw this story on Elizabeth’s Little Blog, linking to Counterpunch — When Does Genocide Purify?

The Pope made some comments on 13th May, in the Conference Hall, Shrine of Aparecida. (Our Lady of Apericida is the patron saint of Brazil).

Yet what did the acceptance of the Christian faith mean for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean? For them, it meant knowing and welcoming Christ, the unknown God whom their ancestors were seeking, without realizing it, in their rich religious traditions. Christ is the Saviour for whom they were silently longing. It also meant that they received, in the waters of Baptism, the divine life that made them children of God by adoption; moreover, they received the Holy Spirit who came to make their cultures fruitful, purifying them and developing the numerous seeds that the incarnate Word had planted in them, thereby guiding them along the paths of the Gospel. In effect, the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbian cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture. Authentic cultures are not closed in upon themselves, nor are they set in stone at a particular point in history, but they are open, or better still, they are seeking an encounter with other cultures, hoping to reach universality through encounter and dialogue with other ways of life and with elements that can lead to a new synthesis, in which the diversity of expressions is always respected as well as the diversity of their particular cultural embodiment.

Al-Jazeera reported:

Dionito Jose de Souza, a leader of the Makuxi tribe in northern Roraima state, said: “The state used the church to do the dirty work in colonising the Indians but they already asked forgiveness for that … so is the pope taking back the church’s word?”

Pope John Paul II spoke in 1992 of mistakes in the evangelisation of native peoples of the Americas.

“We repudiate the [pope’s] comments,” said Sandro Tuxa, leader of the movement of northeastern tribes. “To say the cultural decimation of our people represents a purification is offensive, and frankly, frightening. I think [the pope] has been poorly advised.”

The Roman Catholic church’s own Indian advocacy group in Brazil also criticised Benedict’s speech. Paulo Suess, the advocacy group’s adviser, said: “The pope doesn’t understand the reality of the Indians here, his statement was wrong and indefensible.”

Counterpunch complains about the weakness of the response from Western media:

A May 13 Reuters dispatch noted blithely that, contrary to Benedict’s claims, “many Indian groups believe the conquest brought them enslavement and genocide.” This is rather like writing that “many Jewish groups believe that the Nazi Holocaust brought Jews enslavement and genocide.”

The BBC reports the anger elicited, and says “The Vatican has made no further comment”. The BBC also mentions the criticism of the local Catholic Church. (See al-Jazeera, above)

And Chavez has demanded an apology from the Pope.

Chavez, who regularly clashes with the Catholic Church in Venezuela but had not directly criticized the Pope before, accused the Pontiff on Friday of ignoring the “holocaust” that followed Christopher Columbus’s 1492 landing in the Americas.

“With all due respect your Holiness, apologize because there was a real genocide here and, if we were to deny it, we would be denying our very selves,” Chavez said at an event on freedom of expression.

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