"No more new and renewed conquests in the name of nothing. We reject the political and religious coincidences that exist between Bush and the Pope in criminalizing the fight of the oppressed peoples."
Pope Benedict XVI
May 18, 2007
As Native peoples and nationalities of the Abya Yala continent (America) we strongly reject the declarations made by the Pope about our ancestral spirituality and the political statements made about some presidents of Latin America and the Caribbean. We especially reject these statements because they were part of a speech addressing a continent in which the gap between the poor and the rich gets bigger every day - a continent where the catholic sentiment (implying centuries of "evangelization"), is still really strong - a continent in which the same religion unfortunately failed to give a fair and dignified life to all the inhabitants.
These declarations have been made precisely when Life on the Earth is being seriously threatened and the responsibility for that threat is not of the presidents quoted by the Pope in his speech, but of others like like the President of the United States, George W. Bush, who brandish the flag of a greedy neoliberal capitalistic system.
What is really unbelievable is that someone who calls himself the representation of Christ on this earth, should be worrying about those Latin American presidents that are socially concerned.
It should be clear by now that our continent has the right to self determination. No more new and renewed conquests in the name of nothing.
If we analyze, with simple human sensibility, without fanatism of any sort, the history of the invasion of Abya Yala carried out by the Spaniards with the complicity of the Catholic Church, we can only get indignated.
Surely the Pope must ignore that back in those days the representatives of the Catholic Church, with few honorable exceptions, were accomplices, cover ups, or beneficiaries of one of the most horrible genocides experienced by human society.
More than 70 million people died in concentration camps mainly for mining, public works and construction. Entire nationalities and peoples were wiped out. Look at what happened in Cuba; they would bring in black people, who themselves had to undergo an unfortunate fate, as a replacement for dead people. They exploited our rich soil to economically save their feudal system. The women were cowardly raped and thousands of children died of malnutrition or unknown diseases.
The philosophical and theological idea behind it was that our ancestors "didn't have a soul".
Alongside the murderers of our heroic leaders there was always a priest or a bishop who would indoctrinate the condemned victim, in order for him/her to get baptized before dying while obviously giving up his/her philosophical and theological credo.
Let's not forget father Valverde, the priest who introduced the Bible to Atahualpa in Cajamarca, telling him that it was the word of God. King Atahualpa saw that the book wasn't speaking and threw it away because his own God instead, spoke in the heart of the Mother Earth, in the water, in the wind, in the luminous force of the sun and in the fertility of the moon, in the heartbeat of human beings, of animals and plants. Following this, father Valverde ordered the arrest of Atahualpa.
Some time afterwards, the representative of the God of the Sun and the Moon on this territory was killed after getting baptized and re-named after his murderer, Francisco Pizzarro.
Many of our brothers and sister preferred to die, burned alive rather than giving up their principles. This was the case with our brother Hatuey in the island of Cuba, who rejected the indoctrinating statements made by the priest before his killing about how important it would have been for him to get baptized before dying so that he would have joined the other "Christians" in "Heaven". Hatuey responded that he would have rather gone to Hell than spending his other life together with his oppressors, thieves, and murderers. He eventually was condemned to the stake for this.
In the territory that's now Ecuador, the great leader Calicuchima, rather than accepting the baptism of the priest before his condemnation, rebelled by walking towards the stake and, as the flames encircled him, he screamed with all his might "PACHAKAMAK!" (the Great Spirit Bringing Order to the Totality of Creation).
We should ask the Pope if God - whom he claims he represents - would agree to those crimes against humanity. And we should also remind the Head of the Church and the Spanish government that these kinds of crimes are referred to neither in the earthly laws, nor in the divine ones.
The Christian churches, and the Catholic Church especially, have an enormous debt with Christ, with the poor people of the world and we, the Native peoples and nationalities, have also had to undergo that brutality. Although the Spanish State and the Vatican cannot compensate anymore for the damages suffered as a consequence of the horrific genocide, the Head of the Catholic Church should at least admit the mistakes made, just as his predecessor John Paul II had done in relation to the Nazi and the Holocaust, and he should learn from Jesus Christ, who in order to express his message, he transformed himself in the culture of the Jewish people respecting it fully and was consistent with that whatever message he preached, no matter what the consequences.
It's inconceivable that in the 21st century, God still has to be defined according to the European standards. The Pope should know that before the Catholic priests and their Bibles reached our territories, our people already had a God and his word is what supported the life of our people and the Mother Earth. The word of God cannot be only contained in a book, and no religion should try to privatize God.
We, the First Nations, were civilizations with governments and social structures ordered according to our principles; we also had our own religion with sacred books, rituals, male and female priests who were the first to be killed by those who served the "god of greed" and not the God of Love that Jesus Christ speaks about.
The Bible teaches that those who say they love God although they don't see him and don't love their own brother that they can see, are liars. The ones that desecrated the name of Christ, introducing themselves as his representatives, while they truly were just thieves and murderers, betrayed Christ' noble mission. How could they be representatives of someone that was born in a stable, of humble parents, surrounded by farmers and wanted dead or alive by the rulers of the time who held the political, economic and religious power?
They couldn't possibly be representing someone who said that anyone needs a roof over their head although he himself had no material belongings.
How could these greedy people represent someone that sacrificed in the name of humanity, so much so that he gave up his own life to reveal the truth to the poor of the world.
These were not representatives of Jesus Christ; their "god" was blood thirsty for human lives and for the richness exploited through violence and they carried out the same horrible crimes that all prophets loathed in the Bible!
It's only fair to remember and give credit to the lives of some priests, which took the side of those they called "indios" in the face of so much violence. People such as Bartolomé de las Casas and other Dominican priests that defended the rights of our ancestors that had been stepped upon. And it's also fair to remember and present our deepest respect to all religious men and women, bishop and priests that gave their lives to help the poor of our continent and of any other part of the world; we are especially grateful to Monsignor Leonidas Proaño who worked honestly with the poor of Ecuador and served for the cause of the liberation of the Native Peoples and Nationalities for more than 30 years.
The representatives of God today, of whichever Christian church, should respect and revere life just as Jesus did. They have the ethical and moral duty to condemn all injustice and have to deliver Jesus' message while being at the service of the poor and not on the side of the oppressors. And if they want to carry out a real evangelization of the Native Peoples and Nationalities they have to deliver the authentic message of Christ without trying to destroy our cultures, because that's how He did it and that's whom they say they represent.
You cannot preach the message of Jesus Christ from the opulent point of view, from the point of view of those who desecrate the life created by God, from the point of the biggest destroyers of life on earth.
We reject the political and religious coincidences that exist between Bush and the Pope in criminalizing the fight of the oppressed peoples.
We want consistency! The inconsistency of many who claim they are representatives of Christ is what keeps people from going to church, and especially the Catholic church - which seems to be such a concern for the Pope.
We accept the message of hope, of love and of freedom of Jesus Christ. We know that He said that he came for everybody to be alive and to have an abundant life. What we do not accept is that in the name of whatever religion they would come back and bless our deaths, that of our children and that of millions of poor people of the world.
The Pope stated that "the utopia of revitalizing pre-Columbian religions, separating them from that of Christ and of the universal church, would not represent a step forward but a step backward for the native peoples" who reached "a blend of their own culture and the Christian faith which missionaries offered them".
We think the life of Jesus is the Great Light coming from Inti Yaya (Paternal and Maternal Light that supports it all), whose aim is to deter anything that doesn't let us live in justice and brotherhood among human beings and in harmony with Mother Nature. We respect its authentic followers.
Life taught us that "one can tell a tree from its fruits", as Christ said and we can tell who serves the poor and who takes advantage of them.
The Pope should note that our religions NEVER DIED, we learned how to merge our beliefs and symbols with the ones of the invaders and oppressors.
We keep on going to our temples, because we know that underneath the main Catholic temples there used to be our sacred sites which have been destroyed. With the excuse of building anew they tried to destroy our beliefs but to no avail, since our temples had been built in which the great forces get together reflecting: strength, wisdom and the love of the great spirit, both father and mother of all the creatures living on this beautiful planet.
We give our solidarity to our brother the President EVO MORALES, who works for the poor, a human being that sacrificed his life for truth, justice and fraternity between peoples and we are sure that Jesus Christ considers him his FRIEND.
Our solidarity goes to HUGO CHAVEZ and with FIDEL CASTRO, socially concerned Presidents that sacrificed themselves for a dignified life for the people.
Our hearts are always with those who are, in whichever corner of the world, working for a dignified life for everybody and for the health of Allpa Mama (Mother Earth).
In the name of our ancestors who have been stepped upon and of the million of us, poor people, of the continent of Abya Yala hoping to have a dignified life for all, we renew our strong determination in regaining our rights and we won't allow anybody to carry out another genocide such as the one that started 514 years ago.
Humberto Cholango is the PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATION OF THE KICHWA NATIONALITY OF ECUADOR OR ECUARUNARI, THE MOST NUMEROUS ORGANIZATION OF CONAIE (COUNCIL OF NATIVE NATIONALITIES OF ECUADOR).
Original Source in Spanish: ALTERCOM Communicación para del Libertad
This translation was originally published on
Benedetta Scardovi Mounier is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity.
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