When Hernando Cortes and the other Spanish explorers led conquistadors against the Aztec and Inca empires, their goal was to claim land, seize gold, and share the faith. In the name of Christ, thousands were slaughtered and enslaved. Entire civilizations perished. Some of the conquistadors sincerely believed they were expanding the faith. “Gunpowder against Indians is incense to the Lord,” said one of them. But it is important to know that many voices in the church rose in righteous, angry opposition.
I have climbed to this pulpit to let you know of your sins, for I am the voice of Christ crying in the desert of this island, and you must not listen to me indifferently. You are in mortal sin; you not only are in it, but live in it and die in it because of the cruelty and tyranny you bring to bear on these innocent people. By what right do you wage your odious wars on people who dwelt in quiet and peace on their own islands? Why do you oppress and exploit them, without even giving them enough to eat? They die, or rather, you kill them, so that you may extract more and more gold every day.
Are they not human? Have they no souls? Are you not required to love them as you love yourselves? How can you remain in such profound lethargy? I assure you, in your present state you can no more be saved than Moors or Turks who reject the faith of Jesus Christ.
His audience was stunned, and his words leaped the oceans. In Spain a furious King Ferdinand told Christopher Columbus, “I have seen the sermon … and although he was always a scandalous preacher, I am much surprised by what he said, which has no basis in theology or law.”
Montesinos refused orders to retract his statements, and increasing numbers joined him in reminding the world that not everything done in the name of Christianity is of Christ.
|I command you to preach God’s message. Do it willingly, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do. You must correct people and point out their sins. (2 Timothy 4:1b,2a)|
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Dec. 21.
*The picture in this header Convento San Augustin is by Tomás Castelazo – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=900450