Queen must apologize for the wrongs committed by Henry VII and repudiate the
'Christian Doctrine of Discovery,' the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal
Church has declared.
On 17 July, the triennial
meeting of The Episcopal Church's synod endorsed resolution D035: Repudiate the
Doctrine of Discovery. The doctrine, which originated with Henry VII in 1496,
held that Christian sovereigns and their representative explorers could assert
dominion and title over non-Christian lands with the full blessing and sanction
of the Church,' the resolution explained.
The principle of the Doctrine
of Discovery' arose in 1493 when Pope Alexander VI gave Spain and Portugal the
right to claim non-Christian lands in the new world and Africa, while Henry VII
authorized John Cabot to take possession of all lands discovered for the Crown.
Beginning in 1823 the US
Supreme Court held that Henry's charter provided the legal basis for the
American government's ownership of Indian lands as Indian tribes were not
independent nations, but 'domestic dependent nations!
This doctrine, the resolution
argued, had led to the 'dispossession of the lands of indigenous peoples and the
disruption of their way of life,' and as such, was a bad thing.
The General Convention
directed its presiding officers to write to Queen Elizabeth II, the Supreme
Governor of the Church of England, requesting that her Majesty disavow, and
repudiate publicly, the claimed validity of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery'
as made by the Tudors.
Rising to Speak in support of
the resolution, the Bishop of Maine endorsed the proposal, saying it would be a
symbolic righting of wrongs. There was no debate, and the resolution was adopted
on a unanimous voice vote.
Hundreds of Special interest
non-Church related resolutions are brought to General Convention at each
session. Those that make it out of committee to the floor are usually adopted
with little or no debate on voice votes. Resolutions of General Convention have
no legal force under US canon law.
George Conger on Religious Intelligence
dioceses may not sell parish properties to breakaway groups, Presiding Bishop
Katharine Jefferts Schori has written, in a letter to the US House of Bishops.
Bishop Jefferts Schori stated the Church expected a 'reasonable and fair' deal
on any property settlement and 'that we do not make settlements that encourage
religious bodies who seek to replace The Episcopal Church.'
This means, the Presiding
Bishop said, that property settlements need to include a clause that forbids,
for a period of at least five years, the presence of bishops on the property who
are not members of [the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops], unless they are
invited by the diocesan bishop for purposes which do not subvert mission and ministry
in the name of [The Episcopal Church.]'
The Presiding Bishop added she
understood that some American bishops might wish to permit Anglican bishops from
overseas to preach, preside, confirm, or even ordain, but that diocesan
permission cannot encourage anything that purports to set up or participate in
These principals arose as the
consensus' view of her Council of Advice, Bishop Jefferts Schori said, in a
meeting before General Convention. She added that these rules would be relaxed
if the breakaway groups gain clarity about their own identity' such that 'if and
when they engage apositive missional stance that doesn't seek to replace The
Episcopal Church, I do believe we can enter into ecumenical agreements that will
make some of the foregoing moot.'
It is unclear by what
authority the Presiding Bishop can dictate property policies to The Episcopal
Church as she is not a metropolitan or archbishop, and the canons are silent as
to these injunctions.
Bishop Jefferts Schori's views
come in direct opposition to those of her predecessors, who historically held
that parish property disputes are internal diocesan matters, not subject to the
review or oversight of the presiding bishop.
Speaking to the Diocese of
Western Louisiana in 2006, former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said the
interpretation of the national church's property canons was a diocesan matter,
and that the national church only became involved in parish property disputes if
invited by the local bishop and diocesan standing committees.
The Presiding Bishop's legal
advice may not be enforceable in many US states, as contracts may not
incorporate illegal provisions.
Episcopal News Service
days after being ordained to the priesthood by the Bishop of Kensington, the
curate of the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Hampton of the Diocese of London
has been elected Bishop of Manicaland.
On 24 July the electoral synod
of the Zimbabwe diocese elected as bishop the Revd Dr Julius Makoni to succeed
his deposed processor the Rt Revd Elson Jakazi. Dr Makoni's election must now go
the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) for
An ally of the former Bishop
of Harare, on 23 September 2007 Bishop Jakazi joined Dr Nolbert Kunonga in
writing to Archbishop Bernard Malango saying their dioceses had withdrawn from
Central Africa in protest about what they alleged was a pro-gay bias in the
The dean of Central Africa,
Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia, responded that it was impossible for
them to withdraw the dioceses' and on 19 October 2007 the Central African
bishops declared the two were no longer bishops' of the CPCA.
In April 2008 the former
Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Peter Hatendi, was appointed interim bishop of
Manicaland. However, Bishop Jakazi last year retracted his declaration of
independence from the CPCA and had sought to block the election of a new bishop
for the diocese, claiming he remained the rightful bishop. Litigation is
currently underway between the CPCA and Bishop Jakazi
over the trusteeship of the
Manicaland church properties. George Conger on Religious Intelligence
Doctrine of Discovery 2
Anglican Church of Canada's top aboriginal bishop says formally renouncing the
Doctrine of Discovery - the historic legal claim underlying the conquest of the
New World by Anglo-Italian sailor John Cabot and other early European explorers
- 'is a matter of basic justice' for the First Nations dispossessed by the
arbitrary regal pronouncement.
National Indigenous Bishop
Mark MacDonald, a US -born cleric who was trained in Canadabeforebecomingthe
Anglican Church's principal voice on native issues in 2007, was responding to
news the US arm of the church has renounced the doctrine and asked Queen
Elizabeth - the titular head of the global Anglican community - to 'disavow and
repudiate' it publicly.
The resolution passed last
month at an Episcopal convention in California could preview a similar
proclamation by Anglican leaders in Canada when they gather next June in Nova
Scotia for the church's triennial General Synod, Canwest News Service reported
'I was at the [US] convention
and participated in some of the discussions and preparation of the final
resolution,' said MacDonald, who served for ten years as the Episcopal Bishop of
the Diocese of Alaska. 'It is very exciting.'
He said the Anglican Church in
Canada 'is very interested in this issue' and a 2001 push to repudiate the
doctrine was well received' but not formally enacted at the time.
'The repudiation of the
Doctrine of Discovery is a matter of basic justice and the proof of our Gospel -
whether we live it or just talk it,' MacDonald said in an email on Thursday.
'The bold statement of the US General Convention is an affirmation, inspiration,
and a challenge to carry that work further.'
MacDonald noted Anglicans in
Canada have already effectively rejected the medieval doctrine through
reconciliation efforts on
'We are working towards the
implementation of the repudiation' in advance of any formal motion, he stated,
noting the church's 'Special focus on calling for Canada's endorsement of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.'
He added: 'The Anglican Church
is going through a review of its structure and policies in light of the
repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery
The US resolution directed
Episcopal Church officials to write to Queen Elizabeth and urge her to formally
reject 'the claimed validity of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery
The resolution referred
Specifically to the charter King Henry VII granted Cabot before the Italian-born
explorer sailed to North America in 1497. Probably the first European to reach
the continent since the Vikings, Cabot landed that year in Newfoundland or Nova
Scotia and claimed the future Canada - inhabited for millennia by a multitude of
indigenous nations - for England.
Henry VII's charter had
authorized Cabot to take possession of any 'isles, countries, regions or
provinces of heathens and infidels, in whatsoever part of the world they be,
which before this time were unknown to all Christians.' Popes and monarchs
throughout Europe espoused the Doctrine of Discovery at that time.
Among the many impacts of the
European influx to the Americas during the centuries that followed was the
disappearance of Newfoundland's indigenous Beothuk people by the early 1800s.
While highlighting Cabot's
voyages to Canada, the Episcopal Church resolution also condemnedthe renewal of
the Doctrine of Discovery in English royal charters granted in the sixteenth
century to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, an early colonizer of Newfoundland, and Sir
Walter Raleigh, founder of the Virginia colony in the US south-east.
The doctrine led to the
colonizing dispossession of indigenous peoples from their lands in North America
and to the dehumanization and subjugation of non-Christian peoples,' the US
Canwest News Service
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