5th International Colloquium Heritage and Rights of Indigenous Peoples 24 October 2017, lecture: The Long March to Rome: How indigenous inequality can be traced back to three 15th Century Papal Bulls

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic


On 4 May 2016, 523 years after issuance of the Papal Edict or Bull Inter Caetera, a delegation of the Long March to Rome (www.longmarchtorome.com) met with Pope Francis and his representatives at the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace for the first time to discuss the revocation of three ‘Papal Bulls of Discovery” [Inter Caetera (1493), Romanus Pontifex (1455), Dum Diversas (1452)]. These Papal Bulls are considered to be the “Blueprints for Discovery”, legitimizing the spoliation and conquest of the New World, but just as significantly, creating a template for inequality that has been used both against indigenous peoples and in analogous situations such as land-grabbing in contemporary Africa.
Romanus Pontifex (1455) authorized discoverers to: “…invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed” and to “reduce their persons to perpetual slavery”. It justified such practices on the basis that heathen were homo animales, a lower form of humanity. This is echoed in our times, when displaced persons in the context of land grabs hear that certain “lifestyles are not worth preserving” in the drive to maximize profit of the “underutilized’ and “empty” African countryside.
Period24 Oct 2017
Held atLeiden University, Netherlands
Degree of RecognitionInternational