"I humbly ask forgiveness...for injustices committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America."

 Pope Francis apologized Thursday for the sins and "offenses" committed by the Catholic Church against indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas.

History's first Latin American pope "humbly" begged forgiveness during an encounter in Bolivia with indigenous groups and other activists and in the presence of Bolivia's first-ever indigenous president, Evo Morales.

Francis noted that Latin American church leaders in the past had acknowledged "grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God." St. John Paul II, for his part, apologized to the continent's indigenous for the "pain and suffering" caused during the 500 years of the church's presence on the continent during a 1992 visit to the Dominican Republic.

But Francis went farther.

"I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America," he said to applause and cheers from the crowd.

Earlier in the day, Francis denounced the "throwaway" culture of today's society that discards anyone who is unproductive as he celebrated his first public Mass in Bolivia.

The government declared a national holiday so workers and students could attend the Mass, which featured prayers in Guarani and Aimara, two of Bolivia's indigenous languages, and an altar carved from wood by artisans of the Chiquitano people.

In a blending of the native and new, the famously unpretentious pope changed into his vestments for the Mass in a nearby Burger King.

Speaking to the crowd in South America's poorest country, Francis decried the prevailing mentality of the world economy where so many people are "discarded" today — the poor, the elderly, those who are unproductive.

"It is a mentality in which everything has a price, everything can be bought, everything is negotiable," he said. "This way of thinking has room only for a select few, while it discards all those who are unproductive."

The day, however, threatened to be overshadowed by President Evo Morales' controversial gift to Francis upon his arrival: a crucifix carved into a hammer and sickle.

Both the Vatican and the Bolivian government insisted Morales wasn't making a heretical or political statement with the gift. They said the cross, dubbed the "Communist crucifix," had originally been designed by a Jesuit activist, the Rev. Luis Espinal, who was assassinated in 1980 by suspected paramilitaries during the months that preceded a violent military coup in Bolivia. On Wednesday, Francis, a fellow Jesuit, prayed at the site where Espinal's body was dumped.

"You can dispute the significance and use of the symbol now, but the origin is from Espinal and the sense of it was about an open dialogue, not about a specific ideology," said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

The Bolivian government insisted the gift wasn't a political maneuver of any sort, but was a profound symbol that Morales thought the "pope of the poor" would appreciate.

"That was the intention of this gift, and it was not any sort of maneuver ... It was really from great affection, a work designed by the very hands of Luis Espinal," Communications Minister Marianela Paco told Patria Nueva radio.


Responses to "Pope Apologizes For Catholic Church's 'Offenses' Against Indigenous Peoples (Video)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Finally someone has the great heart to apologize for what was clearly another genocide in the history of our world.

  2. Unknown says:

    Too bad he was here to canonize Father Junipero Serra... a HUGE part of the "problem" of the subjugation and intentional annihilation of indigenous culture.

  3. MJFSR says:

    This is what makes him a great Christian and Pope. Only a person of like humility and like compassion should ever lead the Catholic Church or any Christian church or organization.

  4. Anonymous says:

    great Pope...first one ever I trust to change this world by good example.

  5. Unknown says:

    Un premier pas attendu depuis fort longtemps.... Excuses présentées n'effacent pas tout, mais un aveu public de ce qui a été une grande page de douleurs que peu de gens admettent ou...connaissent!!! :-)

  6. I am so proud of Pope Francis!

  7. Anita Trice says:

    A great example to all mankind. Show the world, then tell them! Thank you Pope Francis.

  8. Russ says:

    Its all marketing, its for their very survival. Im sorry's mean nothing without actions. You can hit me in the eye today, then say you are sorry and hit me in the eye again tomorrow. 1 Im sorry does not make it right for centuries of crimes against humanity!

    He refers to the church as 'Her, a woman" yet it has been ruled by men. It's an insult.

  9. Anonymous says:

    put your money where your mouth is POPE! This is a joke! BLOOD MONEY, LAND, AND APOLOGIZE.

  10. Mona says:

    He's in the U.S. now. This was some time ago. He's here canonizing Junipero Serra.


  11. Anonymous says:

    Well folks at least this Pope said something when no one else has!

  12. Linda Hataway says:

    Thank You Pope its a Start if the Gov will follow though. Release Lenoard ............HES INNOCENT

  13. Wilson Plain, Sr. says:

    The only way to make amends is to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery.

  14. Unknown says:

    This man brings tears to my eyes..he is so humble. thankfully they got it right this time.
    im not a religious person either.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Enough apologies, do repentance, use your power and money to correct the great sin of the Church, Pope, Set the example for the colonial powers to follow.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Forgiveness is... something, but can you give us our ancestors back? How about our land? Or maybe just stop condemning us for not living our lives in accordance with your laws? Could you stop demonizing those of us who do our private business in ways you do not approve of? Could you get your preachers and believers to stop harassing lgbt natives? Can you give us a place in society where we don't have to bend to your peoples' morals? You're the pope, you have power. Why not do something good with it?

    Too difficult? You're just one man? Then don't apologize for your ancestors.

  17. bent1 says:

    I am tired of all the hollow apologies. If indeed there really is regret and awareness of the crimes that have been committed by the church then it is time for restoration of the things which were taken such as LAND, LANGUAGE, CULTURE, and RELIGION. The catholic church in CANADA agreed to pay 25 million dollars for her sins against the INDIAN children but could only muster 5 million and was allowed to get away with that by CANADA(an adjudicator of sins now)which set a precedent for all churches to only have to pay a portion of what they PROMISED to pay. Apologies are empty words without repatriation....

  18. Unknown says:

    Pope Francis is good people I accept his apology.

  19. "In a blending of the native and new, the famously unpretentious pope changed into his vestments for the Mass in a nearby Burger King." -- What irony!

  20. George says:

    It's empty rhetoric. Why doesn't he use some of the Church's amassed ill-gotten wealth to help uplift the survivors of the long genocide of native Americans? Because he just wants to look good rather than actually do something meaningful. Some may forgive him, but I don't. He and his entire organization are black because they contain no light whatsoever and red because of the oceans of human (and other) blood they have spilled. And they are also whatever color reflects massive abuse of human rights over many centuries, the rape of countless children, and many other anti-human activities and behaviors. Absolute corruption deserves only to be eradicated along with the individual humans who are deeply enmeshed in it and ultimately responsible for it.

  21. Anonymous says:

    It's about time!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Junipero Serra was no saint. Tell it to the indigenous who died building the mission system. Their blood is in the mortar that don't those walls.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The church took so much away from the First Nations people of Canada and the rest of the world. They robbed and stole from them, tried to strip them of their identity.
    Words are nothing without action. It's time for the church to step up and start to rebuild what they took.

  24. Scott Vickers, Master of Humanities says:

    Too little, too late.

  25. No FORGIVENESS until you and the church return all stolen lands!

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