Christianity In The New World Essay

2629 words - 11 pages

The Catholic Church during the Middle Ages played an all encompassing role over the lives of the peopleand the government. As the Dark Ages came to a close the ideas of the Renaissance started to take hold, andthe church's power gradually began to wain. The monarchies of Europe also began to grow replacing thechurch's power. Monarchies, at the close of the Middle Ages and the dawn of the Renaissance, did not so muchseek the guidance of the church as much as it sought their approval. However, the Church during the Age ofDiscovery was still a major influence. The discovery of the New World and its previously unknown inhabitantspresented new problems in the Catholic Church in the late 14th and early 15th century. When Spain's rulers andemissaries decided to physically conquer and populate the New World, and not just trade with it, thetransplantation of Christian institutions followed.The church established contact with the New World, and made it a goal to establish the Catholicdoctrines among the native population there. The Catholic Church and the Spanish monarch, however, lookedupon the native population in the New World as souls to be saved. They did not consider or treat the Indians asequals. The implanting of Christianity in the New World, and the treatment of the native population by themissionaries and christian conquerors was detrimental to New World. Through men such as Cortez and LasCasas accounts of the conversions have been recorded. One of the reasons for this was the alliance of theCatholic Church with the Spanish monarchy. The status of the Indians was disregarded as the Christianconquers and missionaries who wanted to convert them subjected them to violence and reduced them to alaboring population. The Indians, however did not always respond in a negative way to the work of the church.The Catholic Church arrived in the New World immediately after Christopher Columbus laid claim to itfor Spain. After Columbus's discovery of the new lands he wrote a series of treatise as to what the Europeanpurpose there was. Columbus, in his writings, said that the purpose of the New World was two fold. He saidthat the gospel message of the church should be spread globally beginning with his discoveries in the NewWorld. Second, he stated that the riches discovered in the New World should be dedicated to the recapture ofJerusalem from the Moslems. Columbus saw the discovery of the New World as a prophesy coming true. Hesaw the Indians that lived there as a labor source that should be christianized and used for the greater good ofthe church.Two papal bulls were issued in the year of 1493 that established the Spanish position in the New World.They also established the role that the church was going to play in the New World. The first bull was issued onMay 3 and it was called Inter Caetera. It said that the lands discovered by Spanish envoys not previously undera christian owner could be claimed by Spain. The bull also gave the Spanish monarch the power...

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