Pope laments trampling of native people's rights
The Associated Press
05.24.2007

Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/184500

 VATICAN CITY Pope Benedict XVI, who has been criticized by Indian rights groups, said Wednesday the church does not gloss over the injustices that accompanied the Christian colonization of Latin America and lamented that indigenous peoples' basic rights were often trampled upon by missionaries.

"While we do not overlook the various injustices and sufferings which accompanied colonization, the Gospel has expressed and continues to express the identity of the peoples in this region and provides inspiration to address the challenges of our globalized era," Benedict told English-speaking pilgrims in St. Peter's Square as he talked about his trip to Brazil earlier this month.

Benedict said that his visit to Brazil, his first papal voyage to Latin America, "embraced not only that great nation, but all Latin America, home to many of the world's Catholics." He described the trip as being "above all, a pilgrimage of praise to God for the faith which has shaped their cultures for over 500 years."

"Certainly, the memory of a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompanied the work of evangelizing the Latin American continent," the pope said.

Benedict's remarks to Italian-speaking pilgrims at his general audience in the square were even stronger than the comments in English.

"It is not possible, indeed, to forget the sufferings and injustices inflicted by colonizers on the indigenous populations, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled on," Benedict said.

The pontiff said he was making a "dutiful mention of such unjustifiable crimes" and said some missionaries and theologians in the past had condemned them.