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History Rebuilt Part 15 - The Power Structure Begins (The Church Outreach)

What happened to just Christianity? If you cannot see the result of today's society controlled by this evil ruling nobility then you are blind! While we are not quite ready to begin the historical discussion of the United States, you can clearly see that from the beginning of the conquering of new worlds that the church decided who lived, who died, who was a slave and who was not. Do you get this yet?


Columbus landed on lands to be known as the United States of America, he encountered a group of people indigenous to the lands. Questions were raised as to whether indigenous peoples were humans or savages and whether they could be baptized or ordained--or enslaved. Rome's answers to these and related questions of just how to acculturate the faith were frequently inconsistent. Pope Paul III, in 1537, said that Mexico's "Indians" were human who could be taught, baptized, and who must be left free regardless of their faith. He reversed the decisions of two popes of the prior century who had allowed non-Christians to be taken as slaves, supporting another pair of 15th-century popes who had opposed slavery. Do these acts reflect one of a God-fearing church? I don’t think so.


Violence toward indigenous peoples was also not uncommon. Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines in 1521, set up a cross on Easter Sunday, and forced local leaders to venerate it. When a village resisted, Magellan burned it down. In 1640, the archbishop of Lima in Peru ordered "idolatry inspections." An overlooked hero of this part of the story of Catholic missions is Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474-1566), whose father sailed with Columbus on his second voyage and returned with a slave for his son. Las Casas went to Cuba in 1502, where he owned property and slaves. Appalled by their fate, he was ordained a priest, joined the Dominicans, and championed the indigenous' people's plight. Shuttling between Europe and the Caribbean, he argued that they were humans and equals, earning the title "Protector of the Indians."


In 1622, Pope Gregory XV synthesized missionary efforts by creating the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fidei), updating a 1568 congregation of cardinals who oversaw the "conversion of infidels." A major goal of the new congregation was to promote an indigenous clergy and acculturated church as rapidly as possible to take over from European missionaries. But the goals of adaptation also lead to confusion. Jesuits in Brazil and Canada successfully learned local languages so they could speak, preach, teach, and celebrate the sacraments in them.


It was the Jesuits that took the lead in other countries as well. Jesuits in Japan and China were equally sensitive to the problems associated with imposing a Latin-oriented, European style of theology and worship. The Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) gained entry to China when he dressed as a Buddhist monk. He studied Confucius, learned Chinese, and engaged scholars to gain authority before he began preaching. But this effort, in the eyes of some, went too far and led to the Chinese Rites controversy. It appears Jesuits permitted a measure of indigenous religion to cross over into Catholicism: ancestor worship, reverence for Confucius, and Chinese ideas about heaven, monotheism, and God's all-knowing quality that were deemed close enough to, if not quite, Catholic dogmas. Rome's response was once again inconsistent. Paul V (1605-1621) permitted Mass in Chinese. In 1645, Rome condemned ancestor worship, but a decade later Pope Alexander VII approved of the Jesuit approach only to have it condemned again in the next century. Finally, in 1745, Pope Benedict XIV abolished Chinese Rites.


So what have we learned? We should have learned how the church got into power and politics. We should have learned how the Jesuits got into the Church. We learned that when Columbus landed in the Americas the Church was the decision maker on religion and the impact this takeover of land would be on the Native American people. We learned how the Church has migrated from Jesus primacy focus into civil and societal focus. So now we will focus more on the movement of the Jesuits to gain control over the Church. This is important so we can see how the foundation of the Church further changed effecting the world governments and the control over the people of the world.

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