Source: Catholic World News, October 13, 2000
VATICAN: A group of Hawaiians and natives of Caribbean islands held an orderly demonstration in St. Peter's Square on Thursday, asking Pope John Paul II to repudiate a 500-year-old papal bull that encouraged Christian nations to enter the New World to convert pagans. The small group of about a dozen presented a copy of the 1493 edict "Inter Caetera" to the Swiss Guard, asking them to take it to the Pope. "Take this back. We have no use of it. We never did," Steve Newcomb, director of the Eugene, Oregon-based Indigenous Law Institute, said, recounting his words to the guards. "And I told them to make sure it gets to the Pope," he added. The document issued by Pope Alexander VI authorized Christian countries to occupy and convert non-Christian areas of the New World. "We hold the Church entirely responsible for the loss of land, lives, and culture we have suffered," said Newcomb, who sent an open letter to the Pope raising the issue in 1992. "The bull perfectly symbolizes the violence that continues to afflict the world." Newcomb noted that as the Pope has used the Jubilee Year to offer apologies on behalf of the Church for injustices committed in her name over the past two thousand years, he would do well to formally repudiate the 1493 bull. "It's easy. He should just say 'I'm sorry,' " said Kamealoha Hanohano, a professor of linguistics at the Hawaii University in Honolulu. "It'd be good enough."