JUNE 2, 1537


In 1452, seeking to aid the Byzantine Emperor against the siege of Constantinople by Ottomans, Pope Nicholas V issued Papal Bull Dum Diversas authorizing Christian kings to “attack, conquer, and subjugate Saracens, pagans and other enemies of Christ wherever they may be found.”  His 1455 Papal Bull Romanus Pontifex gave the right of taking saracens and pagans as perpetual slaves.  As the New Testament claimed the gospel to have been preached to all nations, Columbus’ arrival in the New World caused argument over whether Native Americans, to whom the gospel had not been preached, were humans.  Following recommendations from a council of missionaries discussing methods for converting the natives, Pope Paul III issued Sublimis Dei which forbade the enslaving the indigenous peoples of the Americas stating that Indians are fully rational human beings with the right to freedom and private property, even if they are heathen.  However, the Encyclical was never adhered to or enforced.

Source:  “Sublimus Dei: On the Enslavement and Evangelization of Indians,” Papal Encyclicals Online.  Retrieved 5/7/2020, https://www.papalencyclicals.net/paul03/p3subli.htm
Document:  Pope Paul III.  This is photo of a faithful copy of the document made in 1755.  Public Domain. 

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