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Slavery

 

What has the Church taught about slavery?

Sublimus Dei -- On slavery in the New World (Pope Paul III -- 1537)

In Supremo Apostolatus -- Apostolic Letter Condemning the Slave Trade (Pope Gregory XVI -- 1839)

In Plurimism -- On the Abolition of Slavery (Pope Leo XIII -- 1888)

Catholicae Ecclesiae -- On Slavery in the Missions (Pope Leo XIII -- 1890)

Inscrutabili Dei Consilio -- On the Evils of Society (Pope Leo XIII -- 1878)

Twenty-First Century Slavery -- Letter of Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the international conference, "Twenty-First Century Slavery - The Human Rights Dimension of Trafficking in Human Beings"

 

What has the Church done about slavery?

Christianity and Slavery -- Article from the Catholic Encyclopedia on the Church's history regarding slavery. Here is a brief excerpt:

"A second revival of slavery took place after the discovery of the New World by the Spaniards in 1492. To give the history of it would be to exceed the limits of this article. It will be sufficient to recall the efforts of Las Casas in behalf of the aborigines of America and the protestations of popes against the enslavement of those aborigines and the traffic in negro slaves. England, France, Portugal, and Spain, all participated in this nefarious traffic. England only made amends for its transgressions when, in 1815, it took the initiative in the suppression of the slave trade. In 1871 a writer had the temerity to assert that the Papacy had not its mind to condemn slavery" (Ernest Havet, "Le christianisme et ses origines", I, p. xxi). He forgot that, in 1462, Pius II declared slavery to be "a great crime" (magnum scelus); that, in 1537, Paul III forbade the enslavement of the Indians; that Urban VIII forbade it in 1639, and Benedict XIV in 1741; that Pius VII demanded of the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, the suppression of the slave trade and Gregory XVI condemned it in 1839; that, in the Bull of Canonization of the Jesuit Peter Claver, one of the most illustrious adversaries of slavery, Pius IX branded the "supreme villainy" (summum nefas) of the slave traders. Everyone knows of the beautiful letter which Leo XIII, in 1888, addressed to the Brazilian bishops, exhorting them to banish from their country the remnants of slavery -- a letter to which the bishops responded with their most energetic efforts, and some generous slave-owners by freeing their slaves in a body, as in the first ages of the Church."

 

Much more!

Roman Catholic Church Opposition to Slavery -- The Crime Prevention Group's site listing evidence of Catholic action against slavery from as early as the fifth century.

The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin -- by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Read what Stowe wrote in 1853 about the role of the Catholic Church in ending slavery. See Part IV, Chapter VII.