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Pope Francis asks forgiveness for crimes against indigenous people and criticizes "new colonialism"

10.7.2015 18:30
Pope Francis on St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (Photo: / Creative Commons)
Pope Francis on St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (Photo: / Creative Commons)

"I humbly ask forgiveness, not just for the sins of the Church itself, but also for crimes committed committed against the indigenous inhabitants during the so-called settling of America," Pope Francis told an applauding crowd during a world meeting of movements representing impoverished people in the Bolivian town of Santa Cruz. The Pope acknowledged that "in the name of God", serious sins had been perpetrated against indigenous people.

The former Argentinian Archbishop said that Latin American spiritual leaders had previously apologized for the misconduct. In 1992 Pope John Paul II apologized for the "pain and suffering" caused to the indigenous inhabitants of Latin America.

Critique of new colonialism

Pope Francis, who is known as an ardent supporter of the impoverished and of people on the margins of society, also won over those present by sharply criticizing the current economic order, which in his view is oblivious to its destruction of nature and production of human suffering and is focused purely on maximizing profit. "Let's not be afraid to say it:  We want change, real change, structural change," the Pope declared after being introduced by Bolivia's left-wing President Evo Morales, who was wearing a jacket embroidered with a portrait of the radical revolutionary Che Guevara.  

Contemporary "new colonialism", which is worsening the position of the impoverished, takes the form of payday loan companies, free trade agreements, and too-strict government savings measures that "always tighten the belts of the impoverished and those who work", Pope Francis said. Earlier at a mass in Santa Cruz the Pope urged hundreds of thousands of faithful not to pursue consumerism, which in his view just builds up obstacles between people.

The Pope has been on a week-long tour of South America since Sunday. He held a mass three days ago for more than a million people in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, where he called for greater demonstrations of humanity and respect for diversity, calling individualism the cause of violence and war. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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