Columbus Day and the Doctrine of Discovery

Columbus makes landfall

Columbus Day rolls around every October as a Federal Holiday to remember the ‘discovery’ of America in 1492. As everyone is fully aware, Columbus did not ‘discover’ a barren and unpopulated land. Quite the opposite. There were people, some say 100 million+ people living in North and South America at the time of Columbus’ arrival. But as the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ makes clear, those people were considered ‘barbarous’ and therefore did not have any claim to the lands they had occupied for millennia.

Recently, Columbus Day has been replaced in many cities and states by Indigenous Peoples Day in response to the relocation and outright genocide of Native Americans. The Papal Bull titled ‘Demarcation Bull Granting Spain Possession of Lands Discovered by Columbus’ dated May 4, 1493 is now referred to as the ‘Doctrine of Discovery‘, a document you should read. This document became the foundation for land rights still incorporated into the Laws of North and South American countries to this day. In the US, the most recent reference to it was in a legal case brought before the Supreme Court in 2005.

Before Columbus’s Day

To fully appreciate the context of Columbus’s trip to the Americas and the Doctrine of Discovery, we need to step back 40 years to 1452. In that year, Pope Nicholas V issued an edict or ‘Papal Bull’ called Dum Diversas. The point was to confirm the support given by the ‘authority of the Apostolic See’ to the King of Portugal in their intent to ‘subjugate the enemies of Christ’ as defined by the papacy. Pope Nicholas wrote “we grant to you full and free power, through the Apostolic authority by this edict, to invade, conquer, fight, subjugate the Sarcens (Muslims) and pagans, and other infidels and other enemies of Christ, and wherever established their Kingdoms… and any other possessions, mobile and immobile goods found in all these places…and to lead their persons in perpetual servitude, and to apply and appropriate realms… possessions and goods of this kind to you and your use and your successors the Kings of Portugal.” Three years later, Nicholas V issued another Bull reiterating the above and threatening excommunication and ‘the wrath of God’ to those who help the ‘infidels’ in any way.

1452 is certainly not the first time a Pope made such declarations. Stepping back even further, similar edicts and well-documented history reveals this same mentality manifested in the Crusades and Inquisitions. The Spanish Inquisition, formally established in 1478 by another Papal Bull was an extension in Spain of the the already active medieval Inquisition throughout Europe. The Spanish Inquisition made a pivotal change in 1492, the same year as Columbus’s voyage.

1492 – A Year for Expulsions and Discovery

The Spanish Inquisition had been in operation for just over a decade. Many Jews and Muslims had converted to Catholicism by 1492, but not all. On January 2nd, the last Muslim stronghold of Granada fell to Spain. On April 30th, a new edict was issued called the Alhambra Decree. It mandated that all Jews in Spain convert to Catholicism or leave the country by the end of July. They could only take what they could carry, yet they could not take gold, silver or minted money. Selling of the lands confiscated from the Jews and Muslims had become a source of income for the inquisitors and the crown. Coincidentally, or not, after six years of petitioning for funds, in April of 1492 Isabella granted Columbus the remaining funds and provisions he needed to make his trip. Columbus had already secured partial funds from bankers in Genoa and Florence. On August 3rd, three days after the deadline for the Jews, Columbus made his departure. He even made note of it in his diary when he wrote, “Thus, after having turned out all the Jews from all your kingdoms and lordships… your Highness gave orders to me that with a sufficient fleet I should go to the said parts of India…”. Three months later, on October 12th, he discovered what is now called the Bahamas. The natives called it Guanahani.

1493 – Land Grab in the Name of Christ

Upon Columbus’s return to Spain on March 15th of 1493, the authorities moved quickly. A whole new land full of resources such as gold, silver and slaves had been discovered. Before his second voyage in September of 1493, the papacy issued a new Bull. What is now referred to as the legal concept of the ‘Document of Discovery’ was a Bull issued on May 4th 1493, addressed to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella called “Inter Caetera” or “Demarcation Bull Granting Spain Possession of Lands Discovered by Columbus”. An excerpt worth reading in detail follows:

“…Among other works well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this assuredly ranks highest, that in our times especially the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself… We have indeed learned that you, who for a long time had intended to seek out and discover certain islands and mainlands remote and unknown and not hitherto discovered by others, to the end that you might bring to the worship of our Redeemer and the profession of the Catholic faith their residents and inhabitants… with the wish to fulfill your desire, chose our beloved son, Christopher Columbus, …to make diligent quest for these remote and unknown mainlands and islands through the sea, where hitherto no one had sailed; and they at length, … discovered certain very remote islands and even mainlands that hitherto had not been discovered by others; wherein dwell very many peoples living in peace,… In the islands and countries already discovered are found gold, spices, and very many other precious things of divers kinds and qualities. Wherefore, as becomes Catholic kings and princes,… you have purposed with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them to the Catholic faith… we exhort you very earnestly in the Lord and by your reception of holy baptism, whereby you are bound to our apostolic commands,… that inasmuch as with eager zeal for the true faith you design to equip and dispatch this expedition, you purpose also, as is your duty, to lead the peoples dwelling in those islands and countries to embrace the Christian [Catholic] religion;… in order that you may enter upon so great an undertaking … out of the fullness of our apostolic power, by the authority of Almighty God conferred upon us in blessed Peter and of the vicar-ship of Jesus Christ, which we hold on earth, do by tenor of these presents, should any of said islands have been found by your envoys and captains, give, grant, and assign to you and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, forever, together with all their dominions, cities, camps, places, and villages, and all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and mainlands found and to be found, discovered and to be discoveredAnd we make, appoint, and depute you and your said heirs and successors lords of them with full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind;… Moreover we command you in virtue of holy obedience that, … you should appoint to the aforesaid mainlands and islands worthy, God-fearing, learned, skilled, and experienced men, in order to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents in the Catholic faith and train them in good morals…”

“Intera Caetera” 1493

Remember what Jesus condemned the scribes (lawyers) and Pharisees for doing?

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass the sea and land to make one convert, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

Matthew 23:15

You Shall Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain

The Christianity taught by the Catholic hierarchy has nothing to do with God, Christ or being a Christian. Everywhere they spread their pagan doctrines you also find death, disease, broken families, broken peoples and lies. The Crusades, Inquisitions and forced conversions were founded on the idea that ‘the ends justify the means’, an idea that is not in-line with God. When these things are done ‘in God’s Name’ they are exactly what was meant in the Ten Commandments regarding taking God’s Name in vain or vanity. You can not do evil, especially in God’s Name and still be a child of God. This all is a violation of God’s Commands.

A key component of these Papal Bulls and resulting land grab laws that followed in Catholic and non-Catholic countries alike, was rooted in the idea of “terra nullis” which means ’empty land’ in Latin. The land wasn’t empty of people, it was just empty of Christian/Catholic people. Terra Nullis is another way to de-humanize those who stood in the way of lands and profit. It removed compassion where compassion should have been.

Columbus Day Celebrations

In the time since Columbus ‘discovered’ America, he has been given great accolades, parades and even a Federal Holiday. The first celebrations around Columbus focused on his Italian Heritage. In 1792, on the 300th anniversary of land ‘discovery’, a political organization called the Columbia Order, later called Tammany Hall, a well-known corrupt political organization that has since been disbanded, organized a celebration in New York.

In 1869 on the West Coast, an Italian-America heritage celebration started in San Francisco. It was called ‘Columbus Day’. The celebration grew larger each year. In 1915, the San Francisco Columbus Day Committee, organized by the Salesian priests of Sts. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church, added a crowning of a ‘King Ferdinand’ and ‘Queen Isabella’, in honor of the Spanish monarch’s sponsorship of the voyage. A ‘Queen Isabella’ is still crowned to this day during what is now the Italian Heritage Parade. The organization does not mention the genocide committed by Isabella against Muslims and Jews in Spain during her reign. Nor is there any mention of the edict to conquer the new lands for Catholicism and the ensuing genocide in the Americas.

Strangers in a Strange Land

“You shall not oppress a stranger: for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Law of Moses – Exodus 23:9

Israel was oppressed by the Egyptians, put in bondage by the Egyptians and eventually escaped from the Egyptians. At the root of the word Egyptian is oppressor. In the Crusades and Inquisitions in Europe and the genocide against the Indigenous people of the Americas, the Catholic Church took on the role of the Egyptians, the oppressors. As Jesus said, “You can tell a tree by its fruit” in Luke 6:4.4 This is not a day for celebration, it is a day of mourning.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.”

Matthew 7:15-20

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