LCWR members set sights on justice for indigenous peoples, environment

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Editor's note: For an ongoing list of all coverage of the assembly, go to this series link: LCWR 2014.

The largest leadership organization for U.S. women religious on Thursday called on Pope Francis to repudiate the doctrine of discovery, a 15th-century policy justifying violence against indigenous peoples.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, made up of Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States, represents about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the United States. Nearly 800 of the group's 1,400 members have gathered here for their four-day annual conference.

In a closed session Thursday, members voted to adopt a resolution calling on the pope "to lead us in formally repudiating the period of Christian history that used religion to justify political and personal violence against indigenous nations and peoples and their cultural, religious and territorial identities."

According to the resolution, modern-day indigenous people continue to suffer as a direct result of the doctrine formalized in papal bulls from the 1400s, including Dum Diversas, Romanus Pontifex and Inter Caetera. Dum Diversas, issued in 1452, authorized the conquering of Muslims and pagans and enslaving them, a policy reiterated by the other two papal bulls.

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