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Catholic Church and slavery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The issue of slavery was one that was historically treated with concern by the Catholic Church. Throughout most of human history, slavery has been practiced and accepted by many cultures and religions around the world. Certain passages in the Old Testament sanctioned forms of slavery.[1] The New Testament taught slaves to obey their masters,[2] but this was not an endorsement of slavery, but an appeal to Christian slaves to honor their masters and accept their suffering for Christ's sake,[3] in imitation of him.[4] In proclaiming baptism for all, the Church recognized that all men were fundamentally equal.[5] After the legalisation of Christianity under the Roman Empire, there was a growing sentiment that many kinds of slavery were not compatible with Christian conceptions of charity and justice; some argued against all forms of slavery while others, including the influential Thomas Aquinas, argued the case for penal slavery subject to certain restrictions. The Christian west did succeed in almost entirely enforcing that a free Christian could not be enslaved, for example when a captive in war, but this itself was subject to continual improvement and was not consistently applied throughout history. The Middle Ages also witnessed the emergence of orders of monks such as the Mercedarians who were founded for the purpose of ransoming Christian slaves. By the end of the Medieval period, enslavement of Christians had been largely abolished throughout Europe although enslavement of non-Christians remained permissible, and had seen a revival in Spain and Portugal.

Although some Catholic clergy, religious orders and Popes owned slaves, and the naval galleys of the Papal States were to use captured Muslim galley slaves,[6] Roman Catholic teaching began to turn more strongly against "unjust" forms of slavery in general, beginning in 1435, prohibiting the enslavement of the recently baptised,[7] culminating in condemnation of the enslavement of indigenous peoples by Pope Paul III in 1537. However, when the Age of Discovery greatly increased the number of slaves owned by Christians, the response of the clergy, under strong political pressures, was confused and ineffective in preventing the establishment of slave societies in the colonies of Catholic countries. Earlier Papal bulls such as Pope Nicholas V's 1452 Dum Diversas, or Romanus Pontifex from 1454, permitting the "perpetual servitude" of saracens and pagans in Africa, were used to justify enslavement of natives and the appropriation of their lands during this era.[7]

The depopulation of the Americas, and consequently the shortage of slaves,[citation needed] brought about by diseases brought over by the Europeans as well as slaughter of the native populations, inspired increasing debate during the 16th century over the morality of slavery. The first extensive shipment of black Africans to make good the shortage of native slaves, what would later become known as the Transatlantic slave trade, was initiated at the request of Bishop Las Casas and authorised by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1517.[8] Las Casas later rejected all forms of unjust slavery and became famous as the great protector of Indian rights. No Papal condemnation of Transatlantic slave trade was made at the time. La Casas in 1547 declared that the Spanish never waged a just war against the Indians since they did not have a just cause for doing so.[9]

A number of Popes did issue papal bulls condemning "unjust" enslavement ("just" enslavement was still accepted as a form of punishment), and mistreatment of Native Americans by Spanish and Portuguese colonials; however, these were largely ignored. Nonetheless, Catholic missionaries such as the Jesuits, who also owned slaves, worked to alleviate the suffering of Native American slaves in the New World. Debate about the morality of slavery continued throughout this period, with some books critical of slavery being placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy Office between 1573 and 1826.[10] Capuchin missionaries were excommunicated for calling for the emancipation of black slaves in the Americas.[11] On 22 December 1741, Pope Benedict XIV promulgated the papal bull "Immensa Pastorum Principis" against the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and other countries. In spite of a stronger condemnation of unjust types of slavery by Pope Gregory XVI in his bull In supremo apostolatus issued in 1839, some American bishops continued to support slave-holding interests until the abolition of slavery.[12] In 1866 The Holy Office of Pope Pius IX affirmed that, subject to conditions, it was not against divine law for a slave to be sold, bought or exchanged.[13] In 1995 Pope John Paul II repeated the condemnation of "infamies", including slavery, issued by the Second Vatican Council: "Thirty years later, taking up the words of the Council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience..”[14]

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  • ✪ Bernadette Brooten lectures on slavery in the Catholic Church
  • ✪ Catholic Church and slavery
  • ✪ Church History: Complete Documentary AD 33 to Present
  • ✪ The Bible & Catholic Church on Emancipation
  • ✪ Abuse in the Catholic Church | DW Documentary


- So, good afternoon everyone. Welcome to Rehm Library. I'm Tom Landy, I'm the director of the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture. The McFarland Center sponsors and supports programming that explores issues of meaning, morality and mutual obligation. I'm grateful as always to Professor Benny Liew, the class of 1956 Professor in New Testament Studies for his support, for his co-sponsorship, and for suggesting and leading things on the event today. I'm very happy to introduce Professor Bernadette Brooten to speak on How Catholicism Changed from Official Approval of Slavery to Prohibiting It. Professor Brooten's lecture is especially timely given the discussions we've had on campus over the last year about Holy Cross's own history with the institution of slavery. As many of you know, Father Thomas Mulledy sold 272 slaves belonging to the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1838, to reduce a substantial debt at Georgetown University, where he'd previously served as president, and to begin an endowment for the formation program of young American Jesuits, which had some implications for Holy Cross. Only a few years later, he became Holy Cross's first founding, the founding president. Likewise, the Healy brothers, those remarkable in most ways, very many ways, early graduates of the college, were still in the eyes of the state of Georgia legally slaves when they were students here at Holy Cross. They were also themselves the owners of slaves whose sale eventually benefited the college when the Fenwick fire almost closed us down. You can only imagine what Catholic teaching on slavery meant to some of our most outstanding early students and to the faculty in those years. In her talk today, Professor Brooten will trace the church's changing position on slavery from references in the New Testament and early canon law that fully tolerated slavery, to the current teachings that prohibit it absolutely. Bernadette Brooten is the Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies at Brandeis University. The position is one of a pair of professorships endowed by the Kraft and Hiatt families, New England Patriot's owner Robert Kraft, his late wife Myra Hiatt-Kraft, and her mother and her father, the great Holy Cross benefactor, Jacob Hiatt. Its purpose was to promote Jewish-Christian understanding on both campuses. The other position is the Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Judaic Studies, held here by our own Alan Avery-Peck. Bernadette Brooten is also Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, of Classical Studies and of Religious Studies at Brandeis. She's Founder and Director of the Brandeis Feminist Sexual Ethics Project, which aims to create Jewish, Christian and Muslim sexual ethics rooted in freedom, mutuality, meaningful consent, responsibility and pleasure, untainted by slave-holding values of the early church. Professor Brooten has edited Beyond Slavery: Overcoming its Religious and Sexual Legacies, published in 2010. She's author of Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues, and Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism, for which she received three awards. She's been published on various topics in ancient Jewish and early Christian history. She's been a visiting scholar with Harvard's Women's Studies in Religion program, a MacArthur Fellow, and she's held several fellowships in the Harvard Law School, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies and many other agencies, so please join me in welcoming Bernadette Brooten. (applauding) - I am very, very happy to be here. I'm very happy to see my colleagues and to meet new colleagues. To the students I want to say you have a very impressive faculty in this department, and so I'm really, especially honored to be able to speak to you and that was a perfect introduction because the very first thing I was planning to speak about was indeed, Georgetown and the way it is seeking to repair the damage. So some of this has already been said, but I don't know how to pronounce the name, President DeGioia - [Tom] DeGioia. - DeGioia. DeGioia has announced a mass of apology for slavery, and especially to the descendants of 272 enslaved workers whom Georgetown sold to pay its debts, as well as preferential admission to those descendants. This is a major step forward, significant especially because very few religious leaders, orders or denominations have ever acknowledged the harms of past actions. The Sisters of Loretto and the Arch Bishop of Canterbury have similarly apologized for their past slave holding and I think that this new move sets a precedent so that other schools or religious orders, churches will begin assessing their own past involvement in slavery, if they have one. I'd now like the slide of the defendants. Okay. Yes, is that coming up? Yes, okay. There are further steps that need to be taken, however. The descendants of these 272 human beings noted that although they had asked to be included in the panel at Georgetown that made concrete recommendations, Georgetown had not included them. These descendants are asking, among other things, for tuition scholarships, and not simply preferential admissions, a much better endowed institute to study slavery than Georgetown has planned, and a clear public description of the horrors that their ancestors' enslavement entailed. The pain and the legacies of slavery are still with us. What I'd like to ask, I'd like to look together with you today, is how did Georgetown arrive at this place? What were the steps, the moves within Christianity, and Catholicism specifically, that led to what we now have, what we're now experiencing, which is a very significant move. And slavery, like other institutions has experienced change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. So from the Bible through 1866, slavery is considered fully acceptable. From the late 19th century until 2016, slavery is wrong, even a sin. So ancient Israelite slave law changes over time, and I am working here with what is called the Documentary Hypothesis, which I know that your professors would be teaching you, which is that the, rather than being written by one person at one time, the Pentateuch was written over time, and there are changes from one set of laws to another set of laws. There are three major sets of laws in the Pentateuch, and each of them has a discussion of slavery. So from Exodus to Deuteronomy we have gender equality within slavery, okay, if you can call it that. So in Exodus 21:2-11 we have discussion of certain guidelines, rules, law for slave holding Israelites, and there we read that a Hebrew daughter sold into slavery is not freed after six years, as the Hebrew men are, and so scholars have noticed this difference and have wondered, did that always stay the same, did it change? When we get to Deuteronomy 15:12-18, both enslaved Hebrew men and women are to be freed after six years, so there's a change, and that's what I'm calling kind of a gender equality, that both enslaved men and enslaved women, Hebrew enslaved men and enslaved women were supposed to be let go, given freedom after six years. And another change between Exodus and Deuteronomy is equally significant, and is an improvement. When a person leaves slavery after six years, their master is supposed to give them generously from the flock, so that would be goats, sheep usually, wine and grain so that they don't start out destitute. So that's very important. If people are emancipated and they have no means wherewith to start a new life, they're kind of homeless. What are they going to do? We do have to be cautious, however, because the question is, there's always slippage between the law and the reality. So people don't always follow the law. Jeremiah rails against the Israelites for this, and he says to the people of his time, "Your ancestors did not free enslaved persons after six years." So your ancestors didn't follow this at all, but, "You yourselves repented," so at some point, some Israelites came around to doing it, "You freed your enslaved laborers, "but then you turned around and subjugated them again." So you know, that may be closer to the reality, but there was an ideal. So there are changes between Deuteronomy and Leviticus. So in Leviticus 25:39-46, a very important move happens. First of all, try to prevent slavery. It is very good advice. It's moving advice for today. Help people economically so that they are not at risk of human trafficking, or of the father selling the daughter. One leading expert on contemporary slavery says "If you want to help a girl in Thailand "so that she won't be sold into slavery, "buy her father a boat." So if the father has the means of sustenance, he's less likely to sell the daughter into slavery, and Leviticus says just this kind of thing. So try to prevent slavery to start with, and that's how it opens. Then, you should treat those, your brother, your sister, i.e. fellow Israelites who sell themselves to you. So you try to do everything to prevent it, but if they do sell themselves to you, you shall treat them as hired laborers, not as slaves. So he's saying there shouldn't even be slavery at all, or they shouldn't be treated that way at all. That's clearly an improvement over the earlier laws, but there's a catch. You may enslave foreigners forever. You may pass them on as a legacy to your children. So that raises the question whether the other statutes, what did they have to do with non-Israelite enslaved persons? Well, they said Hebrew, so they clearly didn't apply. So in the Bible, in the statutes, we have very clear guidelines for the treatment of enslaved Hebrews. We have none for the treatment of enslaved foreigners. Okay, within the New Testament, we also see changes over time, and here I am working with the widely accepted view that again, I'm sure your teachers teach you, that of the letters attributed to Paul, some are clearly by Paul himself and some are disputed. So some think that some of his students followed a widespread practice in the ancient world, namely to write in their teacher's name, as they remembered it, or as they interpreted it, and then attribute it to that person. So here we have an example in Paul, Paul's letter, the first letter to the Corinthians 7:21-22, "Let each of you remain in the condition "in which you were called." So that means called to follow Christ. "Were you a slave when called? "Do not be concerned about it." So what does that mean, do not be concerned about it? You don't mind if you're enslaved? Or it's not going to make a difference for you in the church? It's not fully clear. "Even if you can gain your freedom, "use your becoming free," or make use of your present condition now more than ever. There are very few Greek phrases that could be interpreted as the same and the opposite. (chuckles) And this one is one of those. So this phrase, mallon chresai could be don't worry if you have come in in a state of servitude, but if you have the chance to get out, someone offers to pay what needs to be paid, and you have an opportunity, then do it. Or, even if you have the opportunity to get out, make use of your present condition. So in other words, the point is that following Christ is the most important thing and not your status. So we see here simply some ambiguity and this passage has been interpreted in more than one way in more than one time. So I am considering the letter to the Colossians to be written by a student of Paul. Some scholars think it was by Paul, and here we have in a larger passage that concerns wives in relation to their husbands. The wives should subordinate themselves to their husbands, the husbands should love their wives. Children in relation to their parents, the children should obey their parents in all things and the father should not be overly harsh with the children, and this part concerns slavery. In a recent article that I published, I have argued that we need to read the whole thing intersectionally, so when it says slaves, what if it's a child? Then how does the child obey the parent if the child is to obey the master and they conflict. Or wives obey, be subordinate to your husbands, but what if you're both enslaved and the master will not allow you to do what you wish? So in other words, I'd like to put it in the broader context and especially alert you to the fact that these can be female or male, they can be children or adults. "Slaves, obey your earthly masters," and the Greek term used here is kyrios and the plural kyrioi, "in everything, not only while being watched "and in order to please them, "but wholeheartedly fearing the Lord," kyrios. So throughout, the word for master and the word for the Lord is the same word, and that would be significant when reading this in Greek. "Whatever your task, put yourselves into it "as done for the Lord and not for your masters, "since you know that from the Lord "you will receive the inheritance as your reward; "you serve the Lord Christ." So some scholars have argued that these household codes were essentially lifted from the Greco-Roman world and brought into Christianity, but that they're really not foundationally Christian. I would point out, however, I don't agree with that position, and I would point out that this is heavily theologized. It's about the Lord, so it's constantly about the Lord. You please, you obey your masters, but you're always thinking of the Lord. And when you work, do it for the Lord, and not just for the masters. "Since you know that from the Lord "you will receive the inheritance as your reward; "you serve the Lord Christ." I want to say a word about, I want to say a word about some work that I have done, collaborative work in the Feminist Sexual Ethics project that was published, as was mentioned earlier. I worked with a woman from Sudan who was captured as a young girl and carried into slavery in Khartoum, the capital, where she was kept in slavery for six years, and she finally had a rare occasion to escape, in Britain, actually. And she had already written her narrative of what it was like, her life was like before slavery and what it was like during slavery. She is one who says six years. When we looked at some commentary on the Exodus passage, she said, "These people have never talked to anyone "who was in slavery. "The way that scholars wrote about six years, "well six years. "They don't know what it's like "to be in slavery for six years." And when I read this passage with her, the whole passage with the husbands and the wives, the parents and the children, and the enslaved persons and the masters, with respect to this part, she said, "This is irrelevant. "This is totally irrelevant. "You don't obey your master because someone "tells you to in church, you obey your master "because you are terrified." Wow. The part of the code that most disturbed her was children, obey your parents. She said, "How could I obey my parents? "I was taken from my parents. "How could I do that?" That was the part that most touched her, and it showed me the value of working with persons that the situation of slavery is not the same slavery as today, there are many differences, but there are some commonalities, and to see her perspective, and it made me aware of the necessity of working with people who have these experiences. So the Colossians then goes on, "For the wrongdoer will be paid back "for whatever wrong has been done, "and there is no partiality. "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, "for you know that you also have a Master in heaven," a kyrios in heaven. Now the question is, what does justly and fairly mean? In Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the lawgivers spelled that out. This isn't spelled out. It just says justly and fairly. At this point in history, and through much of history, a man was allowed to beat his wife, beat his children, and beat his enslaved laborers. It was not considered contrary to Christian teaching, but rather a correction that would be necessary to make them more virtuous. So we see throughout the early church and of course, later also, that beating, whipping was not seen as contrary to justly and fairly. Okay, so let me move on now to some of the sources of early canon law. So I would argue, and this has echoes today, that the penalty for one's killer denotes the value of one's life. It's one measure of how society values a person, namely how they will treat a person who killed that person. Going back to Exodus, we see that there is a law concerning this, namely, "When a man strikes his slave, "male or female with a rod, and he dies there and then "he must be avenged." So in law one would call this proximate cause, so in other words, if the person dies immediately it is clear that the death was a result of the beating. "But if he survives a day or two, "he is not to be avenged, since he is the other's property." Property here in Hebrew is (speaks foreign language), which means silver. It's good to also translate it as since he is the other's money. So that would be, based on the assumption that the person could have died for another reason, and not as a result of the killing, of the beating, so they would not have a proximate cause there. Okay, so let's move ahead to Elvira. I was in Elvira this summer, in Andalusia, in Southern Spain. It is spectacular. Andalusia is really great. I highly recommend it. (chuckles) So, there was a synod there of bishops and elders held around the year 306, and this is one of the canons. "If a woman," who this obviously refers only to a Christian woman, because the canons can't address anyone outside of the church, "overcome with jealous rage, "flogs her slave woman with lashes," and the kind of instrument used is a rod with multiple thongs, and they sometimes had metal embedded in the thongs, or sometimes bones embedded. So anyone who picked up this type of flogging instrument would know it could result in death. "So that she dies within three days," so that echoes Exodus, but it extends the time further, "in a state of severe physical pain, "but whether she killed her intentionally "or accidentally is doubtful." So whether it was murder or whether it was homicide but not with intent. "If it was intentional, she shall be "readmitted to communion after seven years "of prescribed penitential acts," so communion could have both the meaning of not being allowed to participate in the Eucharist, which of course would be horrible for someone not to be able to participate in that central ritual. It can also mean not even being allowed in the church, in the sanctuary, and we have evidence of this elsewhere, of people doing penance in front of the church or in the atrium of the church, so there are levels of penance. We don't know what kind of prescribed penitential acts are here, but we have some clues from other canons in other places, "and if it was accidental, "after five years of prescribed penitential acts. "In the event that she becomes ill within the set period, "let her receive communion." Okay. So we have a woman who has killed another human being, she is excluded from communion for seven years if it was intentional, and five if it was unintentional. If we compare, yeah, okay, I'm going to go back to that. I'm actually not going to talk about that, I'm going to talk about something else for a moment. If we compare other canons at the same synod, we find that other canons are much harsher. For example, if parents allow their daughter to marry a pagan, they will be excluded forever. So there're other penalties that are considered to be much, much more serious than killing an enslaved laborer. And then there are some that are less, for you be excluded for a year, or be excluded for three years, but there definitely are others that exclude for life, and then sometimes the life is they don't ever get back, or sometimes at their deathbed they would be readmitted. Now notice that neither this nor the New Testament spoke of whether the enslaved persons are Christians or not. So within Colossians, certainly, the enslaved person would be Christian or Christ believer because they're the ones to whom one speaks. With the masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, so that could be if you own enslaved Christ believers or if you own persons of other religious practices, whereas Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus distinguished between Hebrew and foreigner, the early church does not distinguish, and this continues. So in other words, Christians who are enslaved do not have preference. There are no advantages given to them. So I have looked at this from a legal standpoint, and also in the context of ancient Roman law, and the question here is are the circumstances that are outlined mitigating or aggravating? In other words, if you have an aggravated circumstance, that would mean that that makes this crime much worse. If you have a mitigating circumstance, that means that you would be treated more leniently in court. So I looked at each of the elements. The rage is likely aggravating, meaning that because she killed the woman in rage, that likely makes it worse. The type of whip used is also likely aggravating because one knows what this whip is capable of doing. Dying in excruciating pain is also likely aggravating, and the jealous rage, one might think, well, jealous rage, so that likely implies some kind of jealousy over sexual behavior, so a very common scenario in the ancient world and in fact, in any slave system that I have seen, I have not studied all, but in those that I have studied, where you have slavery, you have sexual access to enslaved persons, usually women, but also men and boys. And so it could be that the mistress of the house found out that her slave woman was sleeping with the master, and instead of turning the anger against her husband, who was the more powerful one, she turned her anger against the enslaved woman, and so that would be jealous rage. Now could one argue that because it was jealous rage it was like a crime of passion? And therefore it would be a mitigating circumstance, and I argue that it is likely not mitigating. So that has lots of implications. If I am correct, this canon refers only to the most egregious killing of a slave woman by her mistress, not to a death resulting from a more normal whipping. So in other words, each of these elements is so specific that I think we cannot take it as referring to every killing, it's these very specific circumstances and it could well have been a case that a bishop or an elder brought to the Synod of Elvira and said, "You know, what should I do? "This happened in my church, what should I do about it?" There is one other canon from the Synod of Elvira and it concerns homicide that involved sorcery, so that is heavily punished, likely because of the sorcery. So nevertheless, this is relatively light in comparison with others. Let's turn now to another, oh, and by the way, that canon made its way into the Medieval Code of Canon Law, the Corpus of Canon Law that was in effect from the Middle Ages to 1918. The Synod of Ankyra in 314 in Galatia, Asia Minor, so across the Mediterranean, way to the other side. Here we have voluntary murderers who are excluded from communion until their deathbed, so that might be more what we would expect, that a homicide would be treated in that way by the congregation. Involuntary homicides are closer to the Synod of Elvira, exclusion for five or seven years. So again, later, the codes, the canons of the synods and so forth that created these, promulgated these canons in the early church are spread around disparate over time, so we're piecing together a picture. So this is much later, 517, 306, 517, we are much later, but there we find a canon. "If one kills his or her own slave "without the permission of a judge, "he or she must do a penance of two years "for the bloodshed." Uh-huh. Okay, that is a very light penalty. What does the permission of the judge mean? It apparently means that one would have to bring the case concerning what the enslaved person had done, that the master believes merits death, the death penalty, and then the judge would give permission or not judge give permission, and so what if a person does it without going to the judge? It also implies that judges are giving permission for such killings. They must do a penance of two years for the bloodshed. That is a very light penalty. So in Medieval Canon Law, in the 12th century Gratian, who was a great legal scholar and collected canons from all over the ancient world and up to his time, and tried to bring them into some kind of unity, because they contradicted one another at some points, and he incorporated this canon, the Elviran Canon Five into his work the Decretum, and so it was part of canon law from the 12th century through 1918. Now we have a totally different kind of synod, the Synod of Gangra, which is in Northern Asia Minor, so what is today Turkey, the north of Turkey, and it prescribes excommunication to the followers of Eustathios, that is the Eustathians, on any one of 20 infractions. This is complete excommunication, nothing about the deathbed, nothing about readmittance at all, it is complete excommunication. The Eustathians are very interesting. They are radical aesthetics. The women and the men wear the same clothing. The men wear a simple garment that is considered not suitable to a person of any standing in society. The women do not veil themselves. They are vegetarian. They do not give their money to the bishop. In other words, they apparently use their money for charity as they deem fit. The wives and husbands leave behind children and spouses. So it's a very radical group, and we see here Canon Three. "If someone, under the pretext of piety," so that means if someone, believing that this is the right Christian thing to do, "teaches an enslaved person to despise their owner "and to withdraw," anachorein, which I will explain in a bit, "from service, and not to serve their own owner "to the utmost with affection and all honor, "let that one be excommunicated." Now, the Eustathians were not abolitionists, because there was no general move for abolition at the time. I think that people could not imagine a world without slavery. The economy depended upon it. But there were pockets of resistance. There were various ways in which an enslaved person can resist, or their supporters can resist. You can run away. We have this happening all over the Roman world. You can kill a child so the child won't grow up in slavery. You can, and we know this from US history that that happened sometimes. You can do your work slowly, you can make mistakes. You can poison your owner. There are all kinds of things that you can do to resist, and people did those things. So I think that this is one of those forms of resistance that the Eustathians, or at least some of them viewed, encouraged people to flee, and treated them as refugees rather than as criminals, because under Roman law, they had committed a crime, namely stealing themselves. And I argue that the Eustathians could well have had a coherent theology and biblical interpretation that would support them in this. For example, they could take I Corinthians 7 to mean if you have the opportunity to get out, get out. They could take sayings of Jesus about the poor, the naked, the imprisoned and so forth to mean we should be helping people, and they could draw upon other early Christian sources outside of the canon that they may have considered canonical. We now have some questions of interpretation. Anachoreo. So two scholars, one Spanish, one German have argued that Anachoreo here does not mean to withdraw from slavery generally, which would imply that the Eustathians had some kind of a developed concept of assisting in slave persons, encouraging in slave persons to flee. They rather argue that it means to withdraw to an aesthetic life, so to join them. And we do have evidence of monastic communities taking in enslaved persons, and this is something that Basil of Caesarea addresses when he makes his rules of monasticism that are the main rules of the monastic life in the Greek East. So in other words, and the Roman law even gets into this, so apparently there were monastic communities that thought this is a good thing to be doing. This is a good, Christian thing to be doing, to take in fugitives. So Anachoreo can mean withdraw to the solitary aesthetic life, so that is actually different from withdrawing to a communal monastic life. But it also means to withdraw more generally, such as from marriage, withdraw from marriage or withdraw from work, as in to go on strike. And we have in Egypt, in the fourth century, so in the same time period, but in a different location, we have documentary papayri that is papayri from daily life that use this verb anachoreo to designate enslaved persons escaping, goat herds refusing to work, and married people separating. So I am arguing that it is very likely that these monastics, these radical monastics were assisting enslaved persons more generally. Now, this also is one of the pillars of later canon law on slavery. So they started out as these little synods, there were 13 bishops at this synod of Gangra, very small, in a small place, out of the way, still out of the way today, and the Synod of Elvira was also a small synod in comparison, for example with the Council of Lycea, which has several hundred bishops. But, once it becomes part of the Corpus Iuris Canonici it then enters into the canon law of the Latin church, but not only that, the Gangran canons were also translated into Syriac, Georgian, Armenian, Arabic, Ethiopic and Old Church Slavonic. In other words, influence extended from Southern Russia through to Ethiopia, so that's a very broad spread, and that ensures later ecclesiastical opposition to assisting persons fleeing slavery in a whole area. Now, when we spoke of Georgetown, we were speaking of enslaved laborers that the Jesuits owned. And as I understand it, actually the local bishop wanted to have those, and the Jesuits wouldn't give them up. So in other words, there were churches that were slave holding, there were communities that were slave holding, and this too, has an ancient past. Oh, sorry. Because starting in the early church, we have reference to ways in which enslaved persons could, ways in which enslaved persons could belong to an entity. So in Roman society, there could be enslaved persons belonging to the city that then carried out duties on behalf of the city, road maintenance or building maintenance and so forth. Guilds could have enslaved laborers that belonged to them, and so the early church followed suit and we have both individuals in leading a monastic life that you depended upon slave holding labor, for example, Gregory of Nanzianzus gives to a woman named Rasiana, or she may be Russian, it's hard to know exactly, a place to live, a house to live on his estate. So he had a big estate if he has extra houses on it. And he allowed Rasiana to select from among his enslaved women and girls, two, who would serve her for the rest of her life. So that means she had, there was choice, there were others, and she could either later manumit them out of gratitude, free them out of gratitude, and if not, they would revert to becoming the property of the church so that corporate slave hold, the body being slave holding is necessary and we also see monasticism is fully compatible with slavery. That is hard for us to imagine, because we think of monastics leading a very abstemious life, a harsh life, which they did, but some had enslaved laborers to support that, such as Rasiana, so that she could study, pray, etc. Now I'm going to jump ahead. I could speak about the Middle Ages, in which we have even a pope being a slave holder, going to the market, buying English slaves, Angols. He found them very pretty. But I am going to jump ahead. In the late 15th century Spain and Portugal in particular began to invent race-based slavery. Before that, it was not based on race, and they began to invent this concept and wanted to engage in the sub-Saharan slave trade. So they asked the Vatican for approval to engage in the slave trade, and the Vatican first granted official approval to Portugal and then to Spain to engage in the slave trade. And they did so as long as the people whom they were capturing and enslaving were Saracens, that means Muslims. The word probably comes from an Arabic word (speaks foreign language) which means Eastern peoples, pagans and other enemies of Christ. Okay, so now it becomes religious. Now we're enslaving foreigners in distinction to enslaving Christians. I forgot to mention on thing, in the Middle Ages Christians began to be unhappy about holding other Christians in slavery, and so they began to make a distinction. They wanted enslaved persons, they wanted persons who had been captured in war to be ransomed. That was a very important act, so if they wouldn't go into slavery. And here we see a more explicit religious argument. And then Spain, yes. And so in addition to, what they did, they may invade, conquer, crush, pacify and subjugate such persons. So that was crucial for the rise of the Atlantic Slave Trade, both to South America, to North America and to the Caribbean. That Vatican approval that allowed the slave trade to begin, which then became massive. So here we begin in the 19th century to see some questioning of slavery, which as we see had been accepted for over 18 centuries. Gregory VI denounces the slave trade and the continuation of slavery. Now this is happening, denouncing the slave trade is happening just after, or as others are denouncing the slave trade, others are abolishing the slave trade. First the English, then the Americans denounced the slave trade, although it continued. And here we find a very clear statement of the other side. So in other words, they were not fully in agreement about slavery. So this is a response to priests who were serving in Africa, and they found slave holding among their parishioners, and they asked what to do about it. And so Pope Pius IX did say, you know, it's really hard, so he wasn't totally supporting slavery. It's in the culture, what can you do about it? But he goes on to say, "Slavery itself, considered as such "in its essential nature, is not at all contrary "to the natural and divine law, "and there can be several just titles of slavery. "It is not contrary to the natural and divine law "for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given." Well, we see that it is certainly not contrary to canon law at this point, but he's going even further because if it were contrary to natural law, that would mean it is wrong in all times and in all places for all peoples. So that's a very foundational statement to make that slavery is not contrary to even natural law, but it's not simply the law of nations, but even natural law itself. Ahh, and notice that was in 1866, one year after the end of the US Civil War, although it wasn't directed to the United States. But here we have a change. Leo XIII, I'm sure that many of you have studied some of his ncyclicals in your studies because he's so foundational for Catholic social ethics. So he says slavery, he uses another word, but I put that in there, is wholly opposed to that which was originally ordained by God and nature. Okay, that's exactly the opposite of what we just saw a few years earlier. Either it's in accordance with natural law and Divine law, or it's wholly opposed. Okay, there is movement, there is a shift, and he goes on to say, whoever compares the pagan and Christian attitude toward slavery will easily come to the conclusion that the one, i.e. the pagan, was marked by great cruelty and wickedness, and the other by great gentleness and humanity, that is, the Christian form of slavery, nor will it be possible to deprive the Church of the credit due to her as the instrument of this happy change. Well, this argument was often made in the United States concerning slavery so pro-slavery advocates in the United States, appealing back to Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy and the passages about slaves obeying their masters and others said even in the Roman world where slavery was so much more worse, was cruel, did the Apostles and Christ not oppose it? So they used that argument also. Roman slavery was much worse, our slavery is a benign institution, a paternal institution. Because it is Christian we bringing people to Christ by means of enslavement. So I have to say I am not sure about the credit due to the church as the instrument of this happy change. Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum, that's a very famous encyclical is responding to what is happening around him, namely the rise of socialism and workers' rights. He is arguing against socialism because he says it is bad for both workers and masters and argues masters should treat workers with dignity. So that would exclude slavery. "The following duties bind the wealthy owner "and the employer, not to look upon their work people "as their bondsmen." That is directly reminiscent of Leviticus, that you should not treat your fellow Israelites as if they were as slaves, but rather as hired workers. "But to respect in every man his dignity "as a person ennobled by Christian character." Okay, so dignity, this is a crucial addition to the discussion. If you begin to speak of human dignity, then slavery becomes less plausible and seems immoral. But note here, he's speaking of Christian workers ennobled by their Christian character. What of other workers? Moving ahead, the Catholic Catechism in 1993 makes it definitive. It argues "Enslaving human beings "is against the seventh commandment, "you shall not steal, and against human dignity." So again, the concept of dignity that has now become central in Catholic thought with respect to workers. And this has a certain irony to it because in ancient Israel, do not steal would likely include human property, and to steal someone else's enslaved laborers, because the commandments following speak of do not covet your neighbor's wife and goes on to say his female slave and his male slave, so if you're not allowed to covet, then surely you're not allowed to steal. So it's now taken very differently. You shall not steal, that is, you shall not steal another human being. So here we see a complete turnabout. Over 18 centuries of tolerating, enabling and benefitting from slavery and 1 1/4 centuries of opposing it. So for me, this raises many questions about history and about religion. The first is, religious communities can and do change, including on something as fundamental to morality as the question of slavery. So what can we do to repent? First of all, we can learn this history. We can teach this history. We can seek to understand its impact on the present. We can collaborate with the descendants of those harmed to make genuine reparations, so that's what I argued for with, and the descendants themselves are arguing for with respect to Georgetown, but that applies to all of us in all circumstances, and we can ask ourselves in what comparable harms we are now complicit, because what this teaches me is well-meaning people who simply thought that slavery was another form of labor tolerated slavery and benefitted from it for many centuries. It would be easy to go back and judge them, but I ask myself in what horrific acts am I complicit by not demanding better from my government, by not examining where the goods and products that I purchase came from, under what conditions of labor, and so forth, because I think that we are as enmeshed in comparable harm as people of the past. The International Labor Organization of the UN estimates that there are now over 20 million persons who work in conditions of forced labor. That is more than at any time in history, and for the individual person working under such conditions, the child in the Ivory Coast picking cocoa, the worker from South America being forced to pick tomatoes in Florida, being held in slavery, and so forth. And even though slavery is not legal, for the individual who works under such conditions, I don't think that makes a difference. To say, well, it's not legal, but I live in terror of the master whether it's legal or not legal. So, thank you very much. (applauding) Thank you. I assume we have time for questions? Please, I'm eager to hear your questions and comments. Exodus and Deuteronomy, yes, that's right. It is not to the master's advantage. It's not to the master's advantage. - [Student] Then why even have laws about it? Why would it happen? - Well, it would be a way to ameliorate the conditions of slavery, to make it not forever, but for a fixed period. But yes, of course, the master would always have an economic disadvantage, and in that passage, I didn't go into that, but in both Exodus and Deuteronomy, the enslaved person may declare that they love their master and want to stay with the master and then they will have their ear pierced with an awl, like you know, the ear lobe signifying that they have chosen to stay with the master. In Exodus, we see some of the kinds of conflicts that could lead to this, so in Exodus, if the person who is enslaved, and they're speaking of a male, brings his wife with him into slavery, then when he is freed, they both go free, but if he came in without a wife and the master gave him a wife, and they have children together, the wife and the children do not go free. So what kind of a conflict would this create for a person? Should I stay in slavery, or should I leave my wife and children, my beloved wife and children? And that is also a conflict for people in other periods of slavery, certainly in US slavery, that was a conflict to flee and to leave your wife and child behind. So in other words, there are some checks on it that could mean then that the master would. But we do have to keep that Jeremiah passage in mind, how much did people follow it? Some particularly pious people I think probably did. Thank you. Yes, Caroline. Well, I think he is more ambivalent than his students. I do think he's more ambivalent than his students so the question that Professor Johnson-Hodge, the passage that Professor Johnson-Hodge is, or the text that Professor Johnson-Hodge is referring to is Paul's letter to Philemon, and this is one of the undisputed letters. Apparently an enslaved man has fled and joined Paul and supported Paul, been loyal to Paul, helped Paul, and Paul is now sending him back to his master. So that would be what you're supposed to do under Roman law, because harboring a fugitive itself could make you liable. And he says, "Treat him as a brother, "or as more than a brother." So what does that mean? I'm sure Professor Johnson-Hodge discussed this with you, those who are taking her class, in great detail. Does it mean, "I really hope you will free this person? "This man has been so helpful to me. "He is Christian. "Please, I'm pleading with you to free him." Or, it could be, "I'm pleaing with you to treat him better, "to treat him as a brother." So I think the fact that these passages can be read in more than one way indicates his ambivalence, that is then disambiguated in the following letters that were likely written by students of Paul. Yeah, yeah? Oh, great, a question, yes. With respect to the early canons, we don't know how they were applied. We don't know. So that is difficult. With respect to the question of Augustine freeing persons, and he freed quite a number of persons, I do think that there would have been other examples of that, where a bishop could do such a thing, so buying a person out of slavery is never, that's never a problem. That would not be a problem. But assisting someone to flee or to, encouraging them even to flee is different. So I think we do have in the course of Christian history examples of leaders, popes, bishops, who tried to find some way within the system. So for example, we have a very early bishop of Rome known as a pope, Kallistos, who was himself previously enslaved, so he had come out of slavery and eventually made his way up in the church hierarchy to become a Bishop of Rome, which is a very significant bishopric, of course, and among other things that he did during his time, was to declare that it was acceptable for Christian women to marry enslaved men. So apparently what was happening was we had high-ranking Christian women, and they were wanting to marry enslaved men, or not finding a suitable partner from their own social class, and they were marrying enslaved men. This is very much contrary to Roman law. In fact, under Roman law, which was still in effect at that point, a free woman who entered into a marriage-like arrangement with an enslaved man, it could not be recognized as matrimonium, but it could be recognized as what is called (speaks foreign language), which is term for enslaved marriages, so the Roman law giver accepted that there was something here, but it wasn't at the same level as matrimonium and it did not bestow any rights. So for example, a child born into slavery was without parents. There's no father, the biological father has no rights as a father, no responsibilities as a father and so forth. So the Roman law giver held that if a woman went into a marriage-like relationship, and she was warned, and she still did it, she would become enslaved to that man, to that owner. So if you love an enslaved man, welcome to slavery. And Kallistos went against this, so that may relate to his own past history in slavery. As to your second question, the differences among religious groups, yes, it's very interesting. Let me take the United States as an example. So in the United States, we did have slavery in New England. We had slavery in New York that came to light some years ago in an excavation for a building where a graveyard was found with many persons of African descent buried there, but the Northern states abolished it sooner and the Southern states had it for longer. So in that time, people were looking for justifications because the Abolitionist movement had arisen, and Protestants argued from the Bible, and Catholics argued from canon law, Divine law, natural law. So in other words, there is a difference as to what is the authority, and I do think that an encyclical by someone like Pius IX or putting it into the Catechism has an affect on Catholics around the world. So I do agree with you that if a pope makes a statement, it's going to have, it doesn't mean everybody follows it, but it's going to have a different impact. Does that answer your question? - [Student] Yeah, but I was thinking with what you say-- - We do need to stop, so I'll assume if you two want to take that on, we'd like for you to do that, but unfortunately we have a dinner that's coming up. - Okay, okay, okay. Thank you very much, thank you so much. (applauding) Great, thank you.


Catholic teaching

The new Catechism of the Catholic Church published in 1994 sets out the official position:

The Seventh Commandment forbids acts or enterprises that .... lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit. St. Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave "no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother .... both in the flesh and in the Lord."[15]


Since the Middle Ages, the Christian understanding of slavery has seen significant internal conflict and endured dramatic change. Today, the concept of slavery as private property is condemned by the Church, which classifies it as the stealing of a person's human rights, a concept of classical liberalism that has dominated most of the Western world for the past century.[16][17]


Like secular legal systems, the Church has at different times distinguished between various forms and elements of "slavery", often in a highly theoretical way that has been unclear in its practical application.[citation needed] At particular moments there have been different attitudes to the making of slaves, or "new enslavement", the trafficking and trading of slaves, and the basic ownership of slaves. A distinction was long made between "just" and "unjust" slavery, and whether a particular slave was "justly" or "unjustly" kept in that condition could depend on his religious status. The church long accepted the right of a person to sell himself or his children into slavery, which was sometimes fairly common, or to be sentenced to slavery as a criminal punishment. In addition, slavery was long regarded as essentially an issue of secular law.

In discussions of Church teaching, “slavery” is defined by some Catholic writers as the condition of involuntary servitude in which a human being is regarded as no more than the property of another, as being without basic human rights; in other words, as a thing rather than a person. This form of slavery can be called “chattel slavery.” They contrast this with "just servitude" in which a metaphysical distinction is made between owning a person as an object, and only owning the work of that person. In practical terms a person could be bought sold or exchanged as a form of "just servitude" subject to certain conditions.[18] Slavery for debt was typically legally a different matter under both pre-Christian and Christian legal systems; it might be only for a period, and the owner typically did not have the right to sell the slave without his agreement, and had other restrictions. It often was more a form of indentured labour. Ancient legal systems, included those of the Israelites seen in the Hebrew Bible, also typically distinguished between "native" and foreign slaves, with much better protection for the former. This distinction was transferred to Christian versus non-Christian slaves, sometimes with a component of "origin" as well, for example in Anglo-Saxon laws, but remained very important in Christian thinking and legal systems, in particular for the making of new slaves.

Under pure "chattel slavery" - the slave ceases to be [or never was] a legal person and so has no rights as a person. Historically such slaves tended to be involved in large scale industrial or agricultural work. They cannot legally marry and may be sold away from their home and relatives. This is the kind of slavery that existed under Roman law and in the antebellum Southern United States. The Christian church very early treated slaves as persons, and they were allowed to be baptised, marry, and also be ordained. This tended to be reflected in slavery laws of Catholic countries, so that French slaves, for example, were allowed to marry slaves or free people, though neither baptism nor marrying a free person emancipated them - an issue in the leading French legal case of Jean Boucaux (1737).

A Catholic layman (Cochin) reviewing the moral arguments that underpinned the common Church teaching and definitions relating to “just” slavery wrote in 1861:

“They teach concerning slavery what was taught yesterday and the day before, but what no priest or layman believes any longer today. They teach that slavery is not unlawful, firstly, when it proceeds from a legitimate war or voluntary sale; secondly, provided it respects the soul, body, family, and instruction of the slave. But I challenge anyone to show me today, throughout all Christianity, a single slave who has become such as a prisoner of war or through voluntary sale, to say nothing of the manner in which he is treated.”[19]

In 1530 the first judges in Audiencia of "New Spain" contrasted the "servitude" as practised in Christian Europe with that of the Indians in a letter to Charles V: 'they [Indians] treat slaves as relations, while the Christians treat them as dogs'[20]

Slavery in the New Testament

According to Cardinal Avery Dulles:"Jesus, though he repeatedly denounced sin as a kind of moral slavery, said not a word against slavery as a social institution."

In several Pauline epistles, and the First Epistle of Peter, slaves (however the greek word used, δοῦλοι , is ambiguous, also being used in context to mean servant), are admonished to obey their masters, as to the Lord, and not to men;[21][22][23][24][25] however Masters were told to serve their slaves "in the same way"[26] and "even better" as "brothers",[27] to not threaten them as God is their Master as well. Slaves who are treated wrongly and unjustly are likened to the wrongs that Christ unjustly suffered,[28] and Masters are told that God "shows no favoritism" and that "anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong."[29]

The Epistle to Philemon has become an important text in regard to slavery; it was used by pro-slavery advocates as well as by abolitionists.[30][31] In the epistle, Paul writes that he is returning Onesimus, a fugitive slave, back to his master Philemon; however, Paul also entreats Philemon to regard Onesimus as a beloved brother in Christ, rather than as a slave.[32] Cardinal Dulles points out that, "while discreetly suggesting that he manumit Onesimus, [Paul] does not say that Philemon is morally obliged to free Onesimus and any other slaves he may have had."[33]

According to tradition, Philemon did free Onesimus, and both were eventually recognized as saints by the Church. T. David Curp asserts that, "Given that the Church received Philemon as inspired Scripture, Paul's ambiguity effectively blocked the early Fathers of the Church from denouncing slavery outright." As an example, Curp points out that St. John Chrysostom, in his sermon on Philemon, considers Paul's sending Onesimus back to his master a sign that slavery should not be abolished.[34] However, in his Homilies on Philemon, Chrysostom actually opposes unfair and unjust forms of slavery by stating that those who own slaves are to passionately love their slaves with the very Love of Christ for humanity: "this ... is the glory of a Master, to have grateful slaves. And this is the glory of a Master, that He should thus love His slaves ... Let us therefore be stricken with awe at this so great love of Christ. Let us be inflamed with this love-potion. Though a man be low and mean, yet if we hear that he loves us, we are above all things warmed with love towards him, and honor him exceedingly. And do we then love? And when our Master loves us so much, we are not excited?".[35][36]

In the First Epistle to Timothy, slave traders are condemned, and listed among the sinful and lawbreakers.[37] The First Epistle to the Corinthians describes lawfully obtained manumission as the ideal for slaves.[38]

Early Christianity

Early Christianity encouraged kindness towards slaves. The rape of slaves, considered entirely normal in most preceding systems, was naturally prohibited under the general very strict ban on sex outside marriage in any circumstances, though the effectiveness of the ban of this naturally varied. Christianity recognised marriage of sorts among slaves,[39] freeing slaves was regarded as an act of charity.[40] In Roman law slaves were regarded as property not persons, but this was not the Christian position. Slaves could marry, and be ordained as priests. It has been argued that this difference in legal status in the long term undermined the whole position of slavery.

Nevertheless, early Christianity rarely criticised the actual institution of slavery. Though the Pentateuch gave protection to fugitive slaves,[41] the Roman church often condemned with anathema slaves who fled from their masters, and refused them Eucharistic communion.[42]

In 340 the Synod of Gangra in Asia Minor, condemned certain Manicheans for a list of twenty practices including forbidding marriage, not eating meat, urging that slaves should liberate themselves, abandoning their families, ascetism and reviling married priests.[43] The later Council of Chalcedon, declared that the canons of the Synod of Gangra were ecumenical (in other words, they were viewed as conclusively representative of the wider church).

Augustine of Hippo, who renounced his former Manicheanism, opposed unfair and unjust forms of slavery by observing that they originate with human sinfulness,[44][45] rather than the Creator's original just design of the world which had initially included the basic equality of all human beings as good creatures made in God's image and likeness.[46][47]

John Chrysostom described slavery as 'the fruit of covetousness, of degradation, of savagery ... the fruit of sin, [and] of [human] rebellion against ... our true Father'[48][49] in his Homilies on Ephesians. Moreover, quoting partly from Paul the Apostle, Chrysostom opposed unfair and unjust forms of slavery by giving these instructions to those who owned slaves: " 'And ye masters', he continues, 'do the same things unto them'. The same things. What are these? 'With good-will do service' ... and 'with fear and trembling' ... toward God, fearing lest He one day accuse you for your negligence toward your slaves ... 'And forbear threatening;' be not irritating, he means, nor oppressive ... [and masters are to obey] the law of the common Lord and Master of all ... doing good to all alike ... dispensing the same rights to all".[48][49] Chrysostom preaching on Acts 4:32-4:33 in a sermon entitled, "Should we not make it a heaven on earth?", stated, "I will not speak of slaves, since at that time there was no such thing, but doubtless such as were slaves they set at liberty...

However, Saint Patrick (415-493), himself a former slave, argued for the abolition of slavery, as had Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-394), and Acacius of Amida (400-425). Origen (c.185-254) favoured the Jewish practice of freeing slaves after seven years.[50] Saint Eligius (588-650) used his vast wealth to purchase British and Saxon slaves in groups of 50 and 100 in order to set them free.[51]

Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine of Hippo taught that slavery is never a “natural” condition but one that has arisen as the result of sin. He argued that the institution of slavery derives from God and is beneficial to slaves and masters.[citation needed] However, he also characterized the granting of freedom to slaves as a great virtue.

Augustine described slavery and private property not as the creations of God but of sin. Christianity could not save Rome, he wrote, because those with power, including Christian emperors, could not erase the taint of humanity's sin.[52]

Augustine asserted that the practice among the Jews of freeing slaves after they had served for six years does not apply to the case of Christian slaves as the Apostle Paul's admonition makes clear. He argued that enslaving captives in war was at least better than killing them, and did not exclude the enslavement by Christians of other Christians in this way, as other Church Fathers had already done.[citation needed]

Pope Gregory I

Pope Gregory I in his Pastoral Care (c. 600), which remained a popular text for centuries, wrote "Slaves should be told ...[not] to despise their masters and recognise they are only slaves". In his Commentary on the Book of Job he wrote that "All men are equal by nature but .... a hidden dispensation by providence has arranged a hierarchy of merit and rulership, in that differences between classes of men have arisen as a result of sin and are ordained by divine justice".[53] He directed slaves to be employed by the monasteries as well as forbidding the unrestricted allowance of slaves joining the monastery to escape their servitude.[54] Upon manumitting two slaves held by the Church, he wrote:[55]

Since our Redeemer, the Maker of every creature, was pleased mercifully to assume human flesh in order to break the chain of slavery in which we were held captive, and restore us to our pristine liberty, it is right that men, whom nature from the beginning produced free, and whom the law of nations has subjected to the yoke of slavery, should be restored by the benefit of manumission to the liberty in which they were born.

— Pope Gregory the Great

However, the papal estates alone continued to possess several hundred slaves despite Gregory's lofty rhetoric on the natural liberty of mankind.[56]

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that, although the subjection of one person to another (servitus) could not be derived from the natural law, it could be appropriate based on an individual's actions and socially useful in a world impaired by original sin.[33][citation needed]

Aquinas explicitly rejected the notion that slavery is justified by natural law, since he held that all men are equal by nature.[57] For Aquinas, slavery only arises through positive law. Aquinas placed slavery in opposition to natural law, deducing that all "rational creatures" are entitled to justice. Hence he found no natural basis for the enslavement of one person rather than another, "thus removing any possible justification for slavery based on race or religion." Right reason, not coercion, is the moral basis of authority, for "one man is not by nature ordained to another as an end."

Aquinas distinguished two forms of "subjection" or authority, just and unjust. The former exists when leaders work for the advantage and benefit of their subjects. The unjust form of subjection "is that of slavery, in which the ruler manages the subject for his own [the ruler's] advantage."

"St Thomas Aquinas in mid-thirteenth century accepted the new Aristotelian view of slavery as well as the titles of slave ownership derived from Roman civil law, and attempted - without complete success - to reconcile them with Christian patristic tradition. He takes the patristic theme... that slavery exists is a consequence of original sin and says that it exists according to the "second intention" of nature; it would not have existed in the state of original innocence according to the "first intention" of nature; in this way he can explain the Aristotelian teaching that some people are slaves "by nature" like inanimate instruments, because of their personal sins; for since the slave cannot work for his own benefit slavery is necessarily a punishment. He accepts the symbiotic master-slave relationship as being mutually beneficial. There should be no punishment without some crime, so slavery as a penalty is a matter of positive law.[58] St Thomas' explanation continued to be expounded at least until the end of the 18th century."[59]

Jarrett & Herbert concur with historian Paul Weithman, explaining that Aquinas held that slavery could not be arrived at as a process of Natural Law. It could, thus, only be arrived at as a consequence of man's action. Thus slavery could not be the natural state of man, but could be imposed as a legal or political consequence for actions.[60][61][62] Aquinas' contemporary, the Franciscan Saint Bonaventura argued on ethical grounds that slavery was "infamous" and "perverting virtue", but accepted its legality.[63]

Early Christianity

At least two early popes and several other major figures were former slaves, for example Popes Callixtus I, Pius I The Catholic Encyclopedia argues that, in order for the Church to have condemned slavery, it would have had to be willing to incite a revolution that could have resulted in the destruction of "all civilization".

"Primitive Christianity did not attack slavery directly; but it acted as though slavery did not exist..... To reproach the Church of the first ages with not having condemned slavery in principle, and with having tolerated it in fact, is to blame it for not having let loose a frightful revolution, in which, perhaps, all civilization would have perished with Roman society."[64]

Mark Brumley makes the following points regarding early Christianity and slavery:[65]

  • First, while Paul told slaves to obey their masters, he made no general defense of slavery, anymore than he made a general defense of the pagan government of Rome, which Christians were also instructed to obey despite its injustices (cf. Rom. 13:1-7). He seems simply to have regarded slavery as an intractable part of the social order, an order that he may well have thought would pass away shortly (1 Cor. 7:29-31).
  • Second, Paul told masters to treat their slaves justly and kindly (Eph 6:9; Col 4:1), implying that slaves are not mere property for masters to do with as they please.
  • Third, Paul implied that the brotherhood shared by Christians is ultimately incompatible with chattel slavery. In the case of the runaway slave Onesimus, Paul wrote to Philemon, the slave’s master, instructing him to receive Onesimus back “no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother” (Philem. 6). With respect to salvation in Christ, Paul insisted that “there is neither slave nor free ... you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:27-28).
  • Fourth, the Christian principles of charity (“love your neighbor as yourself") and the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you”) espoused by the New Testament writers are ultimately incompatible with chattel slavery, even if, because of its deeply established role as a social institution, this point was not clearly understood by all at the time.
  • Fifth, while the Christian Empire didn’t immediately outlaw slavery, some Church fathers (such as Gregory of Nyssa and John Chrysostom) strongly denounced it. But then, the state has often failed to enact a just social order in accordance with Church teachings.
  • Sixth, some early Christians liberated their slaves, while some churches redeemed slaves using the congregation’s common means. Other Christians even sacrificially sold themselves into slavery to emancipate others.
  • Seventh, even where slavery was not altogether repudiated, slaves and free men had equal access to the sacraments, and many clerics were from slave backgrounds, including two popes (Pius I and Callistus). This implies a fundamental equality incompatible with slavery.
  • Eighth, the Church ameliorated the harsher aspects of slavery in the Empire, even trying to protect slaves by law, until slavery all but disappeared in the West. It was, of course, to re-emerge during the Renaissance, as Europeans encountered Muslim slave traders and the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

In 340 the Synod of Gangra in Asia Minor, condemned certain Manicheans for a list of twenty practices including forbidding marriage, abandoning their families, slaves despising masters and running away under the pretext of piety, false ascetism and reviling married priests

Medieval period

The main thrust of the church's policy on Slavery in early medieval Europe was to end the enslavement of previously free Christians. Slaves who converted or were baptised as infants in slavery were not covered. It was common practice, both in the ancient world and the Migration period societies which were Christianized, for captives in war, often including the whole population of captured cities, to be enslaved as war booty. This remained acceptable to the Church in the case of non-Christian captives, but not for Christian ones. Getting this principle accepted in Christian societies could take a matter of centuries; there was a great loss of profit for the military elites. According to the Cambridge Economic History of Europe "one of the finest achievements of Christian ethics was the enforcement of respect for this maxim [that free Christians could not be enslaved], slowly to be sure, for it is still being recalled in England early in the eleventh century, but in the long run most effectively."[66]

Slave trafficking was also often condemned, and was clearly regarded by Christian populations as an ethically very dubious trade, rife with abuse (this had been the case before Christianity as well). This was especially so when it involved the sale of Christians to non-Christians, which was often forbidden (for these purposes the Eastern Orthodox might not always be regarded as Christian). The export of Christian slaves to non-Christian lands was often prohibited, for example at the Council of Koblenz in 922, and the Council of London (1102). The ownership of slaves was not condemned in the same way, except that Jews, typically the only non-Christian group accepted in medieval Christian societies, were forbidden to own Christian slaves.

By the end of the Medieval period, enslavement of Christians had been largely abolished throughout Europe although enslavement of non-Christians remained permissible. Serfdom had almost entirely replaced agricultural slavery, and by then was itself largely dying out in Western Europe. Labour shortages after the mid-14th century Black Death were among the factors that broke the serf system. Chattel slavery continued on the fringes of Christendom, and had a revival in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance with Muslim captives. As in other societies, new slaves were continually needed, and the wars of the Reconquista seem to have ensured that Spain and Portugal had the slowest declines in slavery, so that they still had significant numbers of slaves when the Age of Discovery began. England had also been relatively late to lose slavery, which declined sharply after the Norman Conquest did away with the traditional Anglo-Saxon legal framework, and brought in Norman government more heavily influenced by the Church. Over 10% of England’s population entered in the Domesday Book in 1086 were slaves,[67] a far higher figure than in France at the same date. Paradoxically, church bodies remained slave-owners as church leaders fought new enslavement and the slave-trade. As an administrative organization, the Church was conservative and had rules forbidding the alienation of church property. This, and the survival of church records, accounts for the last records of agricultural slaves in England being from monastic properties in the 1120s, much later than in France, where they disappear from the records of large monasteries by the mid-9th century.[68]

During this period, many popes condemned the enslavement by Muslims of Christians. Several religious orders were formed to ransom such enslaved Christians. What is usually termed "the ransoming of captives" was one of the traditional Seven Acts of Mercy; this meant slaves as well as prisoners of war, who could still be held for ransom even after their enslavement and sale was unacceptable. However, there was no condemnation of slavery or tied servitude in general. The Irish Council of Armagh (1171) decreed the liberation of all English slaves, but this was after, and specifically linked to, the Norman invasion of Ireland.[69]

Christian people could be enslaved as a criminal punishment, or for debt, or sell themselves or their children. In 655 the Ninth Council of Toledo, in an attempt to persuade priests to remain celibate, ruled that all children of clerics were to be automatically enslaved. This ruling was later incorporated into the canon law of the church, but seems rarely to have been enforced. In 1089, Pope Urban II ruled at the Synod of Melfi that the wives of priests were to be enslaved.

.... disabilities of all kinds were enacted and as far as possible enforced against the wives and children of ecclesiastics. Their offspring were declared to be of servile condition .... The earliest decree in which the children were declared to be slaves, the property of the Church, and never to be enfranchised, seems to have been a canon of the Synod of Pavia in 1018. Similar penalties were promulgated later on against the wives and concubines (see the Synod of Melfi, 1189, can. xii), who by the very fact of their unlawful connection with a subdeacon or clerk of higher rank became liable to be seized as slaves ...[64]

Laws sometimes stated that conversion to Christianity, especially by Muslims, should result in the emancipation of the slave, but as such conversions often resulted in the freed slave returning to his home territory and reverting to his old religion, for example in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, which had such laws, provisions along these lines were often ignored and became less used.

Helping and freeing slaves

Redemption of Christian slaves by Catholic monks
Redemption of Christian slaves by Catholic monks

There has been a consistent tradition of charitable aid to slaves, without necessarily challenging the institution of slavery itself. Saint Paul was the first of many authorities to say that slaves should be treated kindly, and the granting of freedom by slave-owners (already common in Roman life) was encouraged, especially on the conversion of the owner, or their death. The Anglo-Saxon Synod of Chelsea (816) said that the death of a bishop should be marked by the enfranchisement of all his(?) English (not foreign) slaves enslaved during his life; later pronouncements called for enfranchisement on such occasions, and there was evidently a widespread tradition of such actions.[70]

Christian captives enslaved were a particular concern, and their trafficking to non-Christian owners regarded as especially disgraceful; this was repeatedly forbidden by the church and many figures from the Early Medieval to Early Modern periods took part in the buying back of Christian slaves from their non-Christian owners. One of the traditional Seven Acts of Mercy is now usually given as the "ransoming of captives", but this originally meant slaves or prisoners of war, a distinction that mostly emerged during the Middle Ages, as the sale by Christians of their prisoners became unacceptable, though holding those likely to produce a ransom as prisoners for long periods was not.

The liberation of their own slaves or the buying of slaves to liberate them is a constant theme in early medieval hagiographies. The Frankish Saint Eligius, a goldsmith turned bishop, used his wealth to do so on a large scale, apparently not restricting his actions to Christian slaves.[51] Others used church funds for this, which was permitted by various church councils. The intriguing Queen Bathild (died 680), wife of the Frankish king Clovis II and then regent for her son, was apparently an Anglo-Saxon relative of Ricberht of East Anglia, the last pagan king there, who was either captured by pirates or sold into slavery, probably when he was succeeded by Sigeberht, who was soon to convert to Christianity. She was apparently given to Clovis as a present, but emerged as his queen, and acted against the slave trade, forbidding the export of slaves and using her own money to buy back slaves, especially children.

Societies and clerical orders were founded for the purpose of freeing Christian slaves. The best known of these are the Trinitarian Order and the Mercedarians. The Trinitarians were founded in France in 1198 by Saint John of Matha, with the original aim of ransoming captives in the Crusades. The Mercedarians are an order of friars founded in Barcelona in 1218 by Saint Peter Nolasco, whose particular original mission was the saving of Christian slave-captives in the wars between Christian Aragon and Muslim Spain (Al-andalus). Both operated by collecting money to redeem the captives, and organizing the business of buying them back, so that they were useful to families who already had the money.

The French priest Saint Vincent de Paul (1581–1660) had been captured by Barbary corsairs and enslaved for some years before escaping. He used his position as chaplain to the aristocrat in charge of the French galley fleet to run missions among the slaves and ameliorate their conditions, without seriously challenging the galley-slave system itself.

Wars against Muslims

The position of the Western Church that Christian captives could not be enslaved mirrored that in Islam, which had the same condition in respect of Muslim captives. This meant that in wars involving the two religions, all captives were still liable to be enslaved when captured by the other religion, as regularly happened in the Crusades and the Spanish Reconquista. Coastal parts of Europe remained prey throughout the period to razzias or slaving raids by Barbary corsairs which led to many coastal areas being left unpopulated; there were still isolated raids on England and Ireland as late as the 17th century. "As a consequence of the wars against the Mussulmans and the commerce maintained with the East, the European countries bordering on the Mediterranean, particularly Spain and Italy, once more had slaves: Turkish prisoners and also, unfortunately, captives imported by conscienceless traders .... this revival of slavery, lasting until the seventeenth century, is a blot on Christian civilization".[64] Many Medieval popes condemned the enslavement by Muslims of Christians. Several religious orders were organized to redeem such enslaved Christians. There was, however, never any general condemnation of slavery or tied servitude.

Slavery incorporated into canon law

In the early thirteenth century, official support for some kinds of servitude was incorporated into Canon Law (Corpus Iuris Canonici), by Pope Gregory IX, .[71]

Slavery was imposed as an ecclesiastical penalty by General Councils and local Church councils and Popes, 1179–1535...

(a) The crime of assisting the Saracens 1179–1450.....

(b) The crime of selling Christian slaves to the Saracens 1425. Pope Martin V issued two constitutions. Traffic in Christian slaves was not forbidden, but only their sale to non Christian masters.

(c) The crime of brigandage in the Pyrenees mountainous districts, 1179.

(d) Unjust aggression or other crimes, 1309–1535. The penalty of capture and enslavement for Christian families or cities or states was enacted several times by Popes. Those sentenced included Venetians in 1309.[72]

During the War of the Eight Saints, Pope Gregory XI excommunicated all members of the government of Florence and placed the city under interdict, and legalizing the arrest and enslavement of Florentines and the confiscation of their property throughout Europe.[73]

Revival of slavery in the Early Modern Period

By the end of the Middle Ages slavery had become rare in Northern Europe, but less so around the Mediterranean, where there was more contact with non-Christian societies. Some Italian maritime states remained involved in the slave-trade, but the only Christian area where agricultural slaves were economically important was the south of the Iberian peninsula, where slaves from wars with Muslims, both in the Reconquista and Christian attempts to expand into North Africa, had recently begun to be augmented with slaves taken from sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, Spain and Portugal were the leaders in the Age of Discovery, and took their slave-making attitudes to their new territories in the Americas.

The first African slaves arrived in the Spanish territory of Hispaniola in 1501.[74] Over the next centuries, millions of Africans were taken to the New World in the African Slave Trade.

The theoretical approach of the church to contacts with less-developed peoples in Africa and the Americas carried over from conflicts with Muslims the principle that resistance to Christian conquest, and to conversion, was sufficient to make people, including whole populations, "enemies of Christ", who could be justly enslaved, and then held in slavery even after conversion.[citation needed]

Before Columbus

Europe had been aware since antiquity of the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic 100 kilometres off Africa, and occupied by the Guanches, a people related to the North African Berber peoples, who lived at a simple level without towns, long-range ships or writing, and had intermittent contacts with seafarers from elsewhere. In 1402 the Spanish began the process of conquest, island by island, in what was to be in many ways a rehearsal for their New World conquests. The process lasted until the final defeat of resistance in Tenerife in 1496, and was accompanied by the removal of large parts of the Guanche population as slaves, to the extent that distinct Guanche communities, language and culture have long ceased to exist, although genetic studies find a considerable proportion of what are considered Guanche genes among modern Cararians. There were a number of Church injunctions against the enslavement of the Guanches, which seem to have had little effect. In 1435 Pope Eugene IV condemned slavery, of other Christians, in Sicut Dudum;[75] furthermore, he explicitly forbade the enslavement of the Guanches. Under threat of excommunication, the pope ordered everyone involved fifteen days from receipt of his bull "to restore to their earlier liberty all and each person of either sex who were once residents of said Canary Islands... These people are to be totally and perpetually free and are to be let go without the exaction or reception of any money.

Pope Pius II (1458 to 1464) and Pope Sixtus IV (1471 to 1484) followed with additional bulls condemning enslavement of Christian Canary Islanders. Rodney Stark comments that the fact that slavery continued on the Canary Islands despite the issuance of Sicut dudum is more evidence of "the weakness of papal authority" at the time rather than an indication of "indifference of the Church to the sin of slavery".[76] On the contrary scholars who are specialist in the field point out that slavery continued since the prohibition of Pius II related only to the recently baptised.[77] This being confirmed by Pope Urban VIII (7 October 1462, Apud Raynaldum in Annalibus Ecclesiasticis ad ann n.42) who referred to those covered by the prohibitions of Pius II as "neophytes".[78]

Pope Martin V authorized a crusade against Africa in 1418 and this coupled with a later bull (1441) sanctioned the Portuguese trade in African slaves.[79] In March 1425 a bull was issued that threatened excommunication for any Christian slave dealers and ordered Jews to wear a "badge of infamy" to deter, in part, the buying of Christians.[80] In June 1425 Martin anathematized those who sold Christian slaves to Muslims.[81] Traffic in Christian slaves was not banned, purely the sale to non-Christian owners.[82] The papal bull of excommunication issued to the Genoese merchants of Caffa related to the buying and selling of Christians but has been considered ineffectual as prior injunctions against the Venetians, including the Laws of Gazaria, made allowances for the sale of both Christian and Muslim slaves.[83] Ten black African slaves were presented to Martin in 1441 by Prince Henry of Portugal.[84] Martin supported colonial expansion.[85] Davidson (1961) argues that Martin's injunction against slavery was not a condemnation of slavery itself but rather it was driven through fear of "infidel power".[86]

The Portuguese sought confirmation that they could enslave infidels in a crusade. In 1452 Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum Diversas to King Alfonso V of Portugal which included the following words: "we grant to you...full and free permission to invade, search out, capture and subjugate the Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of reduce their persons into perpetual slavery". In 1454 Pope Nicholas explicitly confirmed the rights granted to King Alfonso V in Dum Diversas in Romanus Pontifex by which he granted to Alfonso "...the rights of conquest and permissions previously granted not only to the territories already acquired but also those that might be acquired in the future".

We [therefore] weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso – to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit...[87]

In 1456, Pope Calixtus III confirmed these grants to the Kings of Portugal and they were renewed by Pope Sixtus IV in 1481; and finally in 1514 Pope Leo repeated verbatim all these documents and approved, renewed and confirmed them.[88]

These papal bulls came to serve as a justification for the subsequent era of slave trade and European colonialism.[89]

The papal pronouncements against slavery in the 15th and 16th centuries sought to regulate particular abuses, but they did not deny Spain and Portugal the right to engage in the trade itself. Thus, although the Church mitigated the effects of slavery in Latin America, it also legitimized it both at the beginning and for hundreds of years afterwards.

Unlike the chattel slavery in the antebellum southern United States (which is predominantly non-Catholic except Louisiana, the Mobile area in Alabama, and the Latino community), where slaves were often considered less than human, the law in Latin American countries gave slaves legal rights. The Church also treated them as fully human with respect to the sacraments; for example, they could marry and even receive holy orders.[Note 1]

In 1488, Pope Innocent VIII accepted the gift of 100 slaves from Ferdinand II of Aragon, and distributed those slaves to his cardinals and the Roman nobility.[91]

Spanish New World

Slavery was part of the indigenous cultures much before the landfall of the Europeans in America. After the Europeans made landfall in America in 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella saw that, if Spain did not receive from the Pope in regard to the American "Indies" the same authority and permissions which Portugal had received in regard of West Africa, then Spain would be at a disadvantage in making use of her newly discovered territories. Accordingly, Pope Alexander VI was approached and already on 3 May 1493 he issued two bulls on the same day in both of which he extended the identical favours, permissions, etc. granted to the Monarchy of Portugal in respect of West Africa to the Monarchy of Spain in respect of America.....and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery...wherever they may be.[92]

Although the church was excited by the potential for huge numbers of conversions in the New World, the clergy sent there were often horrified by the methods used by the conquerors, and tensions between church and state in the new lands grew rapidly. The encomienda system of forced or tenured labour, begun in 1503, often amounted to slavery, though it was not full chattel slavery. The Leyes de Burgos (or Laws of Burgos), were issued by Ferdinand II (Catholic) on 27 December 1512, and were the first set of rules created to control relations between the Spaniards and the recently conquered indigenous people, but though intended to improve the treatment of the Indians, they simply legalized and regulated the system of forced Indian labour. During the reign of Charles V, the reformers gained steam, with the Spanish missionary Bartolomé de las Casas as a notable leading advocate. His goal was the abolition of the encomienda system, which forced the Indians to abandon their previous lifestyle and destroyed their culture. His active role in the reform movement earned Las Casas the nickname, "Defender of the Indians". He was able to influence the king, and the fruit of the reformers' labour was the New Laws of 1542. However these provoked a revolt by the conquistadors, led by Gonzalo Pizarro, the half-brother of Francisco Pizarro, and the alarmed government revised them to be much weaker to appease them. Continuing armed indigenous resistance, for example in the Mixtón War (1540–41) and the Chichimeca War of 1550 resulted in the full enslavement of thousands of captives, often out of the control of the Spanish government.

The second Archbishop of Mexico (1551–72), the Dominican Alonso de Montúfar, wrote to the king in 1560 protesting the importation of Africans, and questioning the "justness" of enslaving them. Tomás de Mercado was a theologian and economist of the School of Salamanca who had lived in Mexico and whose 1571 Summa de Tratos y Contratos ("Manual of Deals and Contracts") was scathing about the morality of the enslavement of Africans in practice, though he accepted "just-title" slaves in theory.

The Church's view on the African Slave Trade in Latin America mimicked that of which they treated it in Europe, as in they did not view them as morally equal. The Church, however, did mandate slaves to be baptized, perform the sacraments, and attend Sunday mass. Slaveholders were also required to give slaves the Lord's day of rest. Uniquely, in Latin America the Church made marriage a requirement and the couple could not be forcefully separated.[93]

However, the Church was subservient to slaveholders. Priests, nuns, and brotherhoods all had large numbers of slaves under them. For example, the largest convent in Mexico City, Mexico bordered the slave market. The nuns purchased personal slaves and slaves to tend to their convent facilities. A particularly revealing case of the Church's participation in the slave trade are the records of lottery prizes from the Santa Casa da Misericordia in Brazil. Child slaves were auctioned off for the large Catholic Charity. Joaquim Nabuco, a Brazilian abolitionist, is quoted saying, " No priest ever tried to stop a slave auction; none ever denounced the religious regimen of the slave quarters. The Catholic Church, despite its immense power in a country still greatly fanaticized by it, never raised its voice in Brazil in favor of emancipation."[93]


The Spanish Requerimiento, in relation to the Spanish invasion of South America, was a legalistic proclamation supposed to be read to local populations in the New World, demanding that the local populations convert to Roman Catholicism, on pain of slavery or death, and intended to give legal colour to the actions of the Spanish. This drew on earlier precedents going back centuries, used in conflicts with the Muslims and Guanches, and originally perhaps copying the Islamic dawah. The most famous version was used between 1510 and 1556, but others were used until the 18th century. It was introduced after Dominican friars accompanying the conquistadors protested to the Crown at the enslavement of the Indians. Comparing the situation to Spain's wars against the Moors, the clerics claimed that Muslims had knowledge of Christ and rejected him, so that waging a crusade against them was legitimate. In contrast, wars against the Native Americans, who had never come into contact with Christianity were unacceptable. As a response to this position, the Requerimiento provided a religious justification for the conquest of the local populations, on the pretext of their refusing the "legitimate" authority of the Kings of Spain and Portugal, as granted by the Pope.[94]

16th century

Slavery in Europe

Slavery in Europe, mainly around the Mediterranean, continued, and was increased by the increased size of Mediterranean navies to combat the powerful Ottoman navy. The main type of naval ship in the Mediterranean, unlike the Atlantic and Northern seas, was the galley, rowed by galley-slaves; use of the galley only declines from about 1600. The navy of the Papal States was no different from that of Venice, France, Genoa and other naval powers. Galley-slaves were recruited by criminal sentencing, usually for a term of years many never survived, as well as capture in war, mostly of Muslims, and sometimes the African slave-trade. Some of the Popes were personally involved in the purchase and use of galley-slaves.[95] The Ottoman admiral Turgut Reis was captured and made a Genoan galley-slave for nearly four years before being imprisoned and eventually ransomed in 1544. After the battle of Lepanto approximately 12,000 Christian galley slaves were freed from the Turks.[96]

In 1535 Pope Paul III removed the ability of slaves in Rome to claim freedom by reaching the Capitol Hill, although this was restored some years later. He "declared the lawfulness of slave trading and slave holding, including the holding of Christian slaves in Rome".[97]

In 1639 Pope Urban VIII forbade the slavery of the Indians of Brazil, Paraguay, and the West Indies, yet he purchased non-Indian slaves for himself from the Knights of Malta,[98] probably for the Papal galleys. The Knights of Malta attacked pirates and Muslim shipping, and their base became a centre for slave trading, selling captured North Africans and Turks. Malta remained a slave market until well into the late 18th century. It required a thousand slaves to equip merely the galleys of the Order.[99][100]

Sublimis Deus

Amerindians labouring with overseer in Brazil, 1820s. As with many such pictures, their status cannot be determined from the image alone.
Amerindians labouring with overseer in Brazil, 1820s. As with many such pictures, their status cannot be determined from the image alone.

In the bull Sublimus Dei (1537), Pope Paul III forbade "unjust kinds of enslavement" relating to the indigenous peoples of the Americas (called Indians of the West and the South) and all other people. Paul characterized enslavers as allies of the devil and declared attempts to justify such slavery "null and void."

...The exalted God loved the human race so much that He created man in such a condition that he was not only a sharer in good as are other creatures, but also that he would be able to reach and see face to face the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good... Seeing this and envying it, the enemy of the human race, who always opposes all good men so that the race may perish, has thought up a way, unheard of before now, by which he might impede the saving word of God from being preached to the nations. He (Satan) has stirred up some of his allies who, desiring to satisfy their own avarice, are presuming to assert far and wide that the reduced to our service like brute animals, under the pretext that they are lacking the Catholic faith. And they reduce them to slavery, treating them with afflictions they would scarcely use with brute animals... by our Apostolic Authority decree and declare by these present letters that the same Indians and all other peoples - even though they are outside the faith - ...should not be deprived of their liberty... Rather they are to be able to use and enjoy this liberty and this ownership of property freely and licitly, and are not to be reduced to slavery...[101]

Accompanying the bull was another document, Pastorale Officium, which attached a latae sententiae excommunication remittable only by the pope himself for those who attempted to enslave the Indians or steal their goods. Stogre (1992) notes that "Sublimus Dei" is not present in Denzinger, a compendium of the Church's teachings, and that the executing brief for it ("Pastorale officium") was annulled the following year.[102] Davis (1988) asserts it was annulled due to a dispute with the Spanish crown.[103] The Council of The West Indies and the Crown concluded that the documents broke their patronato rights and the Pope withdrew them, though they continued to circulate and be quoted by Las Casas and others who supported Indian rights.[104]

Falola (2007) asserts that the bull related to the native populations of the New World and did not condemn the transatlantic slave trade stimulated by the Spanish monarchy and the Holy Roman Emperor.[105] However the bull did condemn the enslavement of all other people, seeming to indirectly condemn the transatlantic slave trade also. The bull was a significant defense of Indian rights.[106]

In a decree dated 18 April 1591 (Bulla Cum Sicuti), Gregory XIV ordered reparations to be made by Catholics in the Philippines to the natives, who had been forced into slavery by Europeans, and he commanded under pain of excommunication of the owners that all native slaves in the islands be set free.[107]

In 1545 Paul repealed an ancient law that allowed slaves to claim their freedom under the Emperor's statue on Capitol Hill, in view of the number of homeless people and tramps in the city of Rome.[108] The decree included those who had become Christians after their enslavement and those born to Christian slaves. The right of inhabitants of Rome to publicly buy and sell slaves of both sexes was affirmed.[109]

“[we decree] that each and every person of either sex, whether Roman or non-Roman, whether secular or clerical, and no matter of what dignity, status, degree, order or condition they be, may freely and lawfully buy and sell publicly any slaves whatsoever of either sex, and make contracts about them as is accustomed to be done in other places, and publicly hold them as slaves and make use of their work, and compel them to do the work assigned to them....irrespective of whether they were made Christians after enslavement, or whether they were born in slavery even from Christian slave parents according to the provisions of common law."[110]

Stogre (1992) asserts that the lifting of restrictions was due to a shortage of slaves in Rome.[111] In 1547 Pope Paul III also sanctioned the enslavement of the Christian King of England, Henry VIII, in the aftermath of the execution of Sir Thomas More[112] In 1548 he authorized the purchase and possession of Muslim slaves in the Papal states.[113]

17th century

The Jesuit reductions, highly organized rural settlements where Jesuit missionaries presided over Indian communities, were begun in 1609, and lasted until the suppression of the order in Spain in 1767. The Jesuits armed the Indians, who fought pitched battles with Portuguese Bandeirantes or slave-hunters. The Holy Office of the Inquisition was asked about the morality of enslaving innocent blacks (Response of the Congregation of the Holy Office, 230, 20 March 1686). The practice was rejected, as was trading such slaves. Slaveholders, the Holy Office declared, were obliged to emancipate and even compensate blacks unjustly enslaved.

18th century

In Compendium Institutionum Civilium, cardinal Gerdil asserts that slavery is compatible with natural law and does not break equality between humans, as slaves retain some rights such as the right to be treated humanely by their masters.[114]'

Pope Benedict XIV condemned the enslavement of Native Americans,[115] specifically in the Portuguese colonies, in the papal bull Immensa Pastorum in 1741.[116]

The movement towards abolition of slavery

The 18th century saw both the slave colonies in the New World become very important economically to Britain and France as well as Spain and Portugal, and also the growth of opposition to slavery in principle, leading to political movements for the abolition of slavery. This was related to the Enlightenment but generally based on Christian ethical principles; in the English-speaking countries many leading figures were Non-conformist Protestants.

French Catholic intellectuals who were notable writers against slavery included Montesquieu and later the radical priests Guillaume-Thomas Raynal and the Abbé Gregoire.[117]

Legal cases such as the French case of Jean Boucaux v. Verdelin of 1738 and the English Somersett's Case (1772) essentially ended the status of slave in the home countries, but without affecting the colonies. The French Revolution, in which Raynal and Gregoire were notable figures, did not initially have emancipation as a goal, but after failing to stamp out the Haitian Revolution, led by the devout Catholic ex-slave Toussaint L'Overture, and alarmed by British attempts to link up with the slave rebels, in 1794 the French entirely abolished slavery in all French territories.

The British followed in 1807 with the Slave Trade Act 1807, which outlawed all international slave-trafficking, but not slave owning, which was legal in the British Empire until the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. From 1807 the British began to use their naval power and diplomatic pressure to lead the international movement eradicating international slave-trafficking completely, which was eventually almost entirely successful.

In 1810, a Mexican Catholic Priest, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, who is also the Father of the Mexican nation, declared slavery abolished, but this was not official until the War of Independence finished.

Pius VII joined the declaration of the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, urging the suppression of the slave trade. By now the major consistent opposition to this came from Spain and Portugal, to whose empires a continued supply of new slaves remained economically very important. In the United States the slave population was largely able to maintain its numbers, and even many slave-owners accepted the evils of the African slave-trade and the need to abolish it.

Pius wrote letters to the restored King of France in 1814 and the King of Portugal in 1823 urging the same thing. By now the Papacy was under political pressure from the British government, as British support was needed at the Congress of Vienna for the restoration of the Papal States.[118]

On reviewing the history of the Church with respect slavery Maxwell (1975) concludes that "In Catholic countries the abolition of slavery has been due mainly to humanist influences".[119] The political philosopher Luigi Sturzo argued that the change in attitude to slavery among many Christian thinkers followed its legal abolition rather than preceding it.[120]

In supremo apostolatus

In 1839, Pope Gregory XVI issued a bull, with the incipit In supremo apostolatus in which he condemned slavery, with particular reference to New World colonial slavery and the slave trade, calling it "inhumanum illud commercium." The exact meaning and scope of the Bull was disputed at the time, and remains so among historians. That new enslavements and slave-trading are condemned and forbidden absolutely is clear, but the language in the passage quoted below and other passages was not sufficiently specific to make clear what, if anything, the bull had to say about the ongoing ownership of those already slaves, although their sale seemed to be prohibited.[121] There was certainly no clear call for the emancipation of all existing slaves, as had already happened in the British and French Empires.

"We, by apostolic authority, warn and strongly exhort... that no one in the future dare to bother unjustly, despoil of their possessions, or reduce to slavery Indians, Blacks or other such peoples... We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this trade in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in these Apostolic Letters" (In supremo apostolatus, 1839).

The Bull was ignored by the Spanish and Portuguese governments, both at that point of an anti-clerical cast and on poor terms with the Vatican generally. The ambiguity in the text allowed some Catholics, including some bishops in the United States and elsewhere, to continue to say that the owning of slaves was permitted by the church, while others claimed that it was a general condemnation of slave-owning. In terms of theology, the position of the church remained unchanged, that slavery was not intrinsically evil. John Henry Newman, in a letter to fellow convert Thomas William Allies, disagreed with him that slavery was intrinsically evil and instead compared slavery to despotism. Stating that neither is intrinsically evil, so though he believed St. Paul would have ended both if he could he was not bound to try as he could not. That slavery was also not per se a sin and some good could come from it.[122] It was not until the last Catholic country to retain legal slavery, Brazil, had abolished it in 1888, that the Vatican pronounced more clearly against slavery as such (that is, the owning of slaves; see below)

Pope Leo XIII

By 1890, slavery was no longer a significant issue for most governments of Christian states. A point of debate within the church related to the issue of the common Catholic teaching on slavery, in the main founded on Roman civil law, and if it could be subject to change. In 1888, Pope Leo XIII issued a letter to the Bishops of Brazil, In plurimis, and another in 1890, Catholicae Ecclesiae (On Slavery In The Missions). In both these letters the Pope singled out for praise twelve previous Popes who had made determined efforts to abolish slavery. Maxwell (1975) notes that Leo did not make mention of conciliar or Papal documents, nor canons of the general Church Law that had previously sanctioned slavery. Five of the Popes praised by Leo issued documents that authorized enslavement as an institution, as a penalty for ecclesiastical offences, or when arising through war.[112] No distinction is made in Pope Leo's letters between "just" and "unjust" forms of slavery and has therefore been interpreted as a condemnation of slavery as an institution, though other Catholic moral theologians continued to teach up until the middle of twentieth century that slavery was not intrinsically morally wrong.[123] C. R. Boxer deals with this in chapter 1 of his book The Church Militant and Iberian Expansion, 1440–1770 (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978): see note 45 (p. 126), where he refers to sources not cited by Maxwell.

United States

A Catholic Union army chaplain at a Mass during the American Civil War
A Catholic Union army chaplain at a Mass during the American Civil War

Two slaveholding states, Maryland and Louisiana, had large contingents of Catholic residents; however both states had also the largest numbers of former enslaved persons who were freed. Archbishop of Baltimore, John Carroll, had two black servants - one free and one enslaved. In 1820, the Jesuits had nearly 400 slaves on their Maryland plantations. The Society of Jesus owned a large number of enslaved individuals who worked on the community's farms. Realizing that their properties were more profitable if rented out to tenant farmers rather that worked by enslaved people, the Jesuits began selling off their bondsmen in 1837.

In one of the more famous examples of this, the Jesuit leadership of Georgetown College, in Washington, D.C., sold off 272 enslaved persons in 1838 (often known as the Georgetown 272 or GU272) in order to raise money for the struggling school.[124] Most of these people ended up near Maringouin, Louisiana, where many of their descendants still live.

Although Louisiana was one of the slaveholding states, it also had one of largest populations of formerly enslaved people in the United States. Most of the former bondsmen lived in New Orleans and the southern part of the state (the Catholic region of Louisiana). More than in other areas of the South, many free blacks in New Orleans were middle class and well-educated; many were property owners. Catholics only started to become a significant part of the overall US population in the 1840s with the arrival of poor Irish and Southern Italian immigrants who congregated in urban Northern and non-slaveholding areas.

Despite the issuance of In supremo apostolatus, the American church continued in deeds, if not in public discourse, to support slaveholding interests.[citation needed] Some American bishops interpreted In supremo as condemning only the slave trade and not slavery itself. Bishop John England of Charleston actually wrote several letters to the Secretary of State under President Van Buren explaining that the Pope, in In supremo, did not condemn slavery but only the slave trade.[125]

In In supremo apostolatus, Pope Gregory XVI admonished and adjured "all believers in Christ, of whatsoever condition, that no one hereafter may dare unjustly to molest Indians, Blacks, or other men of this sort;...or to reduce them to slavery...". Catholic bishops in the Southern U.S. focused on the word "unjustly". They argued that the Pope did not condemn slavery if the enslaved individuals had been captured justly—that is, they were either criminals or prisoners of war. The bishops determined that this prohibition did not apply to slavery in the US.[citation needed]

Answering the charge that Catholics were widely supporting the abolitionist movement, Bishop England noted that Gregory XVI was condemning only the slave trade and not slavery itself, especially as it existed in the United States. To prove his opinion, England had In supremo translated and published in his diocesan newspaper, The United States Catholic Miscellany, and even went so far as to write a series of 18 extensive letters to John Forsyth, the Secretary of State under President Martin Van Buren, to explain how he and most of the other American bishops interpreted In supremo apostolatus.

Daniel O'Connell, the Roman Catholic leader of the Irish in Ireland, supported the abolition of slavery in the British Empire and in America. Garrison recruited him to the cause of American abolitionism. O'Connell, the black abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond, and the temperance priest Theobald Mathew organized a petition with 60,000 signatures urging the Irish of the United States to support abolition. O'Connell also spoke in the United States for abolition. One outspoken critic of slavery was Archbishop John Baptist Purcell of Cincinnati, Ohio. In an 1863 Catholic Telegraph editorial Purcell wrote:

"When the slave power predominates, religion is nominal. There is no life in it. It is the hard-working laboring man who builds the church, the school house, the orphan asylum, not the slaveholder, as a general rule. Religion flourishes in a slave state only in proportion to its intimacy with a free state, or as it is adjacent to it."

Between 1821 and 1836 when Mexico opened up its territory of Texas to American settlers, many of the settlers had problems bringing enslaved people into Catholic Mexico (which did not allow slavery).

During the Civil War, Bishop Patrick Neeson Lynch was named by The Confederacy President Jefferson Davis to be its delegate to the Holy See which maintained diplomatic relations in the name of the Papal States. Despite Bishop Lynch's mission, and an earlier mission by A. Dudley Mann, the Vatican never recognized the Confederacy, and the Pope received Bishop Lynch only his ecclesiastical capacity.[126]

William T. Sherman, a prominent Union General during the Civil War, was a baptized Catholic whose son became a priest, but who disavowed Catholicism after the war ended. Sherman's military campaigns of 1864 and 1865 freed many enslaved people, who joined his marches through Georgia and the Carolinas by the tens of thousands, although his personal views on the rights of African Americans and the morality of slavery appear to have been somewhat more nuanced. George Meade, the Union General who was victorious at the Battle of Gettysburg, was baptized as a Catholic in infancy, though it is not clear whether he practiced that religion later in his life.

Concerning Ethiopians

In 1866 the Holy Office issued an Instruction (signed by Pope Pius IX) in reply to questions from a vicar apostolic of the Galla tribe in Ethiopia: ". . . slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons. For the sort of ownership which a slave-owner has over a slave is understood as nothing other than the perpetual right of disposing of the work of a slave for one's own benefit - services which it is right for one human being to provide for another. From this it follows that it is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or donated, provided that in this sale, purchase, exchange or gift, the due conditions are strictly observed which the approved authors likewise describe and explain. Among these conditions the most important ones are that the purchaser should carefully examine whether the slave who is put up for sale has been justly or unjustly deprived of his liberty, and that the vendor should do nothing which might endanger the life, virtue or Catholic faith of the slave who is to be transferred to another's possession." [127][128]

Some commentators[who?] suggest that the statement was triggered by the passage of the 13th Amendment in the US. Others claim that the document referred only to a "particular situation in Africa to have slaves under certain conditions," and not necessarily to the situation in the U.S.[129] Maxwell (1975) writes that this document sets out a contemporary theological exposition of morally legitimate slavery and slave trading.[130]


In a letter to the bishops of Brazil (5 May 1888), Pope Leo XIII recalled the Church's unceasing efforts in the course of centuries to get rid of colonial slavery and the slave trade and expressed his satisfaction that Brazil had at last abolished it. Pope Leo XIII wrote, "In the presence of so much suffering, the condition of slavery, in which a considerable part of the great human family has been sunk in squalor and affliction now for many centuries, is deeply to be deplored; for the system is one which is wholly opposed to that which was originally ordained by God and by nature"[131]

20th century and 21st century

The Vatican II document "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World" stated: "Whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torture...whatever insults human dignity, subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery ... the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed ... they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator."[132]

Speaking in 1992 at the infamous “House of Slaves” on the Island of Gorée in Senegal, John Paul II declared: “It is fitting to confess in all truth and humility this sin of man against man, this sin of man against God.”

In 1993, in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, John Paul II took, from Vatican II's pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, a long list of social evils: “homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide ... mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as sub-human living conditions, arbitrary imprisonments, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat laborers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons.” Where Vatican II had called these practices “shameful” (probra), John Paul II calls them “intrinsically evil.” In the same encyclical the pope teaches that intrinsically evil acts are prohibited always and everywhere, without any exception.

Nevertheless, institutions in the Catholic Church continued to be linked with forced labour throughout the 20th century. In Ireland, up to 30,000 women were subjeced to forced labour at those Magdalene Laundries ran by Catholics from 1922 to 1996.[133] Magdalene asylums in Ireland were not limited to Catholics, however, and the Protestant Bethany Home has also suffered from abuses and faced criticism and has a Survivor's group.[134]

In 2002 Archbishop of Accra Charles G. Palmer-Buckle apologized on behalf of Africans for the part Africans played in the slave trade, and the apology was accepted by bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee.[135]

Development of Church teaching

Although most authors argue that there has been a shift in Church teaching over the last two millennia from acceptance and toleration of slavery to opposition, some Catholic writers reject this claim, insisting that there has been no such change in the Magisterium.[citation needed] One reason for this insistence is that authors who argue that the Magisterium has changed have pointed to this purported shift in teaching as setting a precedent that Church teaching has changed to be compatible with changes in social mores and morality.[136] As a result, historical interpretation of the Church's teaching on slavery over the last two millennia has become controversial between those who would change the Church's teaching in other areas and those who resist such changes— in effect, a debate between those who hold to the Church's doctrine of infallibility and those that reject the Church's claims.

Cardinal Avery Dulles makes the following observations about the Catholic Church and the institution of slavery

  1. For many centuries the Church was part of a slave-holding society.
  2. The popes themselves held slaves, including at times hundreds of Muslim captives to man their galleys.
  3. Throughout Christian antiquity and the Middle Ages, theologians generally followed St. Augustine in holding that although slavery was not written into the natural moral law it was not absolutely forbidden by that law.
  4. St. Thomas Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin were all Augustinian on this point. Although the subjection of one person to another (servitus) was not part of the primary intention of the natural law, St. Thomas taught, it was appropriate and socially useful in a world impaired by original sin.
  5. No Father or Doctor of the Church was an unqualified abolitionist.
  6. No pope or council ever made a sweeping condemnation of slavery as such.
  7. But they constantly sought to alleviate the evils of slavery and repeatedly denounced the mass enslavement of conquered populations and the infamous slave trade, thereby undermining slavery at its sources.[33]

Theologian Laennec Hurbon asserted that no Pope before 1890 condemned all forms of slavery, asserting that, ". .. one can search in vain through the interventions of the Holy See-those of Pius V, Urban VIII and Benedict XIV-for any condemnation of the actual principle of slavery."[137]

In a modern work that denies any fundamental change in the church's teaching over the centuries, Father Joel Panzer writes:

The development of [the Church's teaching regarding slavery] over the span of nearly five centuries was occasioned by the unique and illicit form of servitude that accompanied the Age of Discovery. The just titles to servitude were not rejected by the Church, but rather were tolerated for many reasons. This in no way invalidates the clear and consistent teaching against the unjust slavery that came to prevail in Africa and the Western Hemisphere, first in Central and South America and then in the United States, for approximately four centuries.[137]

The "servitude" that Panzer describes allows, subject to certain conditions, the buying, selling and exchange of other human beings as described in the Holy Office decree of 1866 and he believes this has been the constant teaching of Popes down through the ages.[138] Maxwell (1975) argues against a very rigid understanding of Papal texts, and their immutability, noting that torture was also once sanctioned by Papal decree.[139] Pope John Paul II in 1995 "in the name of the whole Church" forbade the selling of women and children.[140]

In his 1975 work on slavery, John F. Maxwell wrote that the Church did not correct its teaching on the moral legitimacy of slavery until 1965, with the publication, from the Second Vatican Council, of Gaudium et Spes (The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World).[137] Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. has argued that slavery is one of the areas in which the Church has changed its moral teaching to suit the times, and that this change did not take place until 1890 when, he asserted, the Church finally condemned the institution of slavery, lagging behind laws which had already been enacted to outlaw the practice.[141] In a book edited by Charles Curran, Diana Hayes also concludes that there was a change in the church's teaching, which she places in the 1880s.[142]

Dulles characterizes Noonan's thesis as being that "social change makes it possible for Christians to overcome the blindness that had previously afflicted their moral vision". According to Dulles, Noonan finds that the Church has changed its doctrine, in many cases, effecting "an about-face, repudiating the erroneous past teaching of the magisterium itself."[33] However, Dulles asserts that Noonan "fails to establish that the Church has reversed her teaching in any of the four areas he examines".

Vic Biorseth argues that "In all of recorded history, there is no such thing as a matter of faith and morals on which the Holy Roman Catholic Church has ever changed its teaching."[143] Rodney Stark presents evidence to refute the allegations that the Catholic Church did not oppose slavery until relatively recently.[76] Stark makes no mention in his essay of the pro-slavery texts issued by Popes in the past nor does Father Panzer who he uses as a source. Maxwell (1975) asserts that it has been difficult for Catholic historians to write impartially on this subject. By way of example he notes texts of Pope Leo XIII who singled out for praise twelve previous Popes who made every effort to end slavery. Maxwell then points out that five of the mentioned Popes actually authorized slavery but suggests the error could be due to the Popes' "ghost writers". Hugh Thomas, author of "The Slave Trade" is critical of the New Catholic Encyclopedia through its "misleading" account of Papal condemnation of slavery.[144] Maxwell (1975) describes the situation as the historical "whitewashing" of the Church's involvement in slavery.[145]

Father John Francis Maxwell in 1975 published "Slavery and the Catholic Church: The history of Catholic teaching concerning the moral legitimacy of the institution of slavery", a book that was the product of seven years research. It recorded the instances where slavery was sanctioned by Councils and Popes and also censures and prohibitions that have been recorded throughout the history of the Church. He explains that what appears to the layman, not familiar with the intricacies of Church teaching and law, to be contradictory teaching, often involving the same Pope, is actually only a reflection of the common and longstanding concept of permissible "just slavery", and "unjust slavery" which was subject to condemnation. He shows by numerous examples from Council and Papal documents that “just slavery” was always an acceptable part of Catholic teaching right up until the end of the 19th century when the first steps were taken to place all forms of slavery under the ban. Since "just" slavery had been allowed by previous Councils and Popes he saw the declaration of slavery as an unconditional “infamy” in the Second Vatican Council pastoral constitution "Gaudium et spes" as a correction to what had been previously allowed, but not promulgated as infallible teaching.[citation needed]. Dulles disagrees, different types of servitude being distinguished [146].

Pope John Paul II in his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" (1995), when repeating the list of infamies that included slavery, prefaced the passage in "Gaudium es spes" with " ..Thirty years later, taking up the words of the Council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience.."

Papacy and Slavery - Chronological reference listing
  • Leo the Great decreed in 443 that no slave could become a priest.[147]
  • In the mid-fourth century Pope Julius I wrote that a slave could not be divorced from their spouse.[148]
  • The Pastoral Rule of Gregory I “The Great”, reigned 590-604, directed that slaves should behave humbly for their masters as they are only slaves and that Masters should not be proud since they, like their slaves, were also slaves of God.[149] He also commended the act of manumission for those who had been condemned jus gentium to slavery.[150] Gregory wrote to a military governor in Africa to request a delivery of prisoners of war for enslavement in the service of the poor in Rome.[151]
  • Pope Urban II in 1089 at the Synod of Melfi granted to princes the power to enslave the wives of clerics to enforce clerical celibacy.[152]
  • Alexander III in 1174 appealed to the Moorish King of Valencia for the release of prisoners of war on the basis that they were Christians.[153]
  • Between 1309 and 1535 various States, Cities and families were subject to the penalty of enslavement by Popes. Examples include the Florentines in 1376, the Venetians (1309, 1283 and 1509) and the Colonna family in 1535.[154]
  • In March 1425 Martin V issued a bull threatening excommunication for any Christian slave dealers and ordered Jews to wear a "badge of infamy" to deter, in part, the buying of Christians.[155] Ten black slaves were presented as a gift to Martin by Prince Henry of Portugal in 1441.[156] In 1452 Martin V condemned those who purchased Greek rite Christians and sold them to non-Christians. Only the sale to non-Christians was forbidden.[154]
  • Pope Eugenius IV in 1433 and 1435 (Sicut Dudum) imposed the penalty of excommunication on those who enslaved recent converts in the Canary Islands.[157] Eugenius tempered "Sicut Dudum" with another bull (15 September 1436) due to the complaints made by King Duarte of Portugal, now allowing the Portuguese to conquer any unconverted parts of the Canary Islands. Christians would be protected by the earlier edict but the un-baptized were implicitly allowed to be enslaved.[158]
  • Nicholas V in 1452 authorized King Alfonso V of Portugal to “invade, search out, capture and subjugate the Saracens and Pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, and other property...and to reduce their persons into perpetual slavery”. This was reconfirmed by Nicholas in 1454.[159] In 1456 Calixtus III extended the grants of Nicholas V to the Kings of Portugal.[160] Sixtus IV renewed the grants of Nicholas V in 1481.[160] In 1514 Leo X repeated all the grants of Nicholas V and those which had been subsequently been confirmed by Sixtus IV and Calixtus III.[161]
  • In 1456 Pope Calixtus III applied the penalty of excommunication to those who had enslaved some Christians along with Muslims during raids on the Turkish and Egyptian coasts.[162]
  • Pius II in 1462 decreed ecclesiastical censures for those who were enslaving the recently baptised of Guinea. The institution of slavery itself was not subject to condemnation.[163]
  • In 1476 Sixtus IV anathematized those who were enslaving the Christian converts in the Canary Islands.[162]
  • Innocent VIII in 1488 distributed amongst the clergy a share of the hundred slaves he received as gift from King Ferdinand. He was advised by King Jao in 1488 that the profits being made from the slave trade were helping to finance wars against Muslims in the North of Africa.[164]
  • Alexander VI in 1493 granted to Spain the same rights to the Americas as had been granted to Portugal for Africa by Nicholas V in 1454.[165]
  • Pope Leo X in his bull of 1513 regularized the procedure for baptising slaves who were about to die on slave ships.[166] He described the enslavement of Indians as an offense against the Christian religion and nature, however “there would certainly have been one or two [black] slaves from the coast of Guinea in the Vatican in his day”.[167]
  • Pope Paul III in 1535 sentenced King Henry VIII to the penalty of being exposed to capture and enslavement.[112]
  • In May 1537 Paul III followed the lead already given by Spanish crown and banned under pain of excommunication the enslavement of American Indians whom he now declared to be human beings. King Charles V objected since it “was injurious to the Imperial right of colonization and harmful to the peace of the Indies” so Paul annulled the executive brief decree associated with the papal bull in June 1538.[168]
  • In 1535 Paul III renewed the ancient privilege of the magistrates to emancipate slaves who fled to the Capital after it had lapsed. After appeals from the magistrates Paul revoked the privilege in 1548 and declared it lawful to hold and trade slaves in Rome including Christians.[110]
  • Pius V in 1566 restored to the magistrates of Rome the right to emancipate slaves who fled to the Capital under an ancient privilege.[169]
  • Pius V in 1571 excommunicated those who were enslaving Christians to serve as galley-slaves.[170]
  • Pope Sixtus V, elected 1585, as a sign of appreciation allowed Fernando Jimenez (the most important merchant of slaves in the mid-sixteenth century) to use his own surname, contrary to the normal restrictions applied to Jews of the period.[171]
  • Following a Royal Edict Pope Gregory XIV 1591 ordered the emancipation of all Indian slaves held by the Spanish in the Philippines under pain of excommunication. The prohibitions of Paul III and Gregory XIV were not applicable to “just” enslavement, e.g. those considered enemies.[172]
  • In 1629 Pope Urban VIII authorized the purchase of forty privately owned slaves who were serving in the galleys of the Papal fleet.[169] In 1639 he condemned slavery of Indians, but not black Africans, without qualification in a letter (“Immensa”) to his representative in Portugal.[173]
  • Pope Alexander VII in 1661 sought to purchase 100 slaves for the Papal galleys.[162]
  • Innocent X in 1645 authorized the purchase of 100 Turkish slaves to serve in the Papal galleys.[174]
  • Clement XI, elected 1700, directed the Holy Office to appeal to his nuncios in Madrid and Lisbon to act in bringing about the end of slavery.[175]
  • Pope Benedict XIV in 1741 condemns the unjust enslavement of Indians, Christian and non-Christian, and repeats the censures of Paul III and Urban VIII.[176]
  • In 1839 Gregory XVI condemned the unjust trade in black Africans as unchristian and morally unlawful. Unlike the censures of Paul III, Gregory XIV and Benedict XIV relating to Indians, there is no penalty of excommunication for offenders.[177]
  • Leo XIII in 1888 and 1890 praised 12 Popes of the past who sought to abolish slavery with no mention of just or unjust type of enslavement. Five of the Popes mentioned were authors of public documents which sanctioned enslavement either as an institution, or for ecclesiastical transgressions or as a result of war.[112]
  • In 1995 Pope John Paul II repeated the condemnation of "infamies", including slavery, issued by the Second Vatican Council: "Thirty years later, taking up the words of the Council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience..”[178]
Church councils & slavery - chronological reference list
  • The Council of Gangra (340AD) anathematized anyone who taught that it was permissible for a slave to withdraw his services from the master who owned him on religious grounds. This decree became part of the Western Church's collections of canons for quoted during the following 1,400 years.[179]
  • In 419 the Council of Carthage decreed that not even an enfranchised slave could give evidence in a court of law.[180]
  • The Council of Agde in 506AD decreed that Bishops could not sell slaves owned by the Church.[181]
  • In 517AD the Council of Jena decreed that slaves bestowed on monastic orders could not be emancipated.[150]
  • The Council of Orleans in 541AD decreed that slaves who were emancipated by a Bishop would be allowed to remain free so long as they remained in the service of the Church.[152]
  • Bishops were instructed to defend the freedom of former slaves who had been legitimately emancipated in Church at the 2nd Council of Macon in 585AD.[152]
  • In 633AD it was decreed by the 4th Council of Toledo that women who were having “forbidden relationships” with clerics were to be put up for sale as slaves and that the clerics do penance.[182]
  • The 9th Council of Toledo in 655AD decreed that the penalty of enslavement was not to be applied to priests who offended against the clerical celibacy rules but rather their children who would thereafter be forever slaves of the Church. This decree became part of the collection of Canons of the Western Church.[182]
  • The Synod of Chelsea in Saxon England[183] decreed that at the death of every Bishop all English slaves he owned were to be freed, with each Abbot or Bishop who attended his funeral having to emancipate three slaves and give to each three solidi.[184]
  • In 817AD the Council of Aachen used a previous teaching of St. Isidore of Seville to affirm the justice of enslavement.[185] The Council of Pavia in 1012AD enacted a similar decree but in addition included those children who were born of free women.[152]
  • Pope Urban II in 1089 at the Synod of Melfi granted to princes the power to enslave the wives of clerics in order to enforce clerical celibacy.[152]
  • In 1117AD the Council of Armagh decreed that all English slaves in Ireland should be emancipated.[186]
  • The 3rd General Council of the Lateran (1179AD) decreed the penalty of enslavement on any Christian who provided material aid to for the repair of Saracen ships or provided navigational assistance. This penalty was subsequently repeated at three other General Councils.[187] The same Council decreed enslavement as a penalty for anyone involved with brigandage in the Pyrenees.[154]
  • The Fifth Lateran Council[188] regularised the procedure for baptizing slaves who were about to die in transit on slave ships.[189]
  • In 1965 the Second Vatican Council described slavery, without qualification, as an infamy that dishonored the Creator and poisoned human society.[148]

See also


  1. ^ However, such priests could not act as priest to Europeans, but only when they returned to their "homeland", nor were they allowed to control a benefice or ecclesiastic property. Such rights were reserved to white Portuguese.[90]


  1. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 22; see also pages 23-26 for different forms of slavery and how they compared with other nations
  2. ^ 1 Timothy 6:1-2
  3. ^ Ephesians 6:6-8
  4. ^ 1 Peter 2:18-23
  5. ^ Galatians 3:27-28
  6. ^ Maxwell, p. 75
  7. ^ a b Maxwell 1975, p. 75
  8. ^ "Negro Race", Joseph Butsch, Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911, CDROM Edition 2003)
  9. ^ Maxwell 1975, p. 65
  10. ^ Maxwell, 1975
  11. ^ "The Papacy and the Atlantic Slave Trade", Richard Gray, Past & Present: A Journal of Historical Studies, N0 115, May 1987, p. 62
  12. ^ Stark, Rodney (1 July 2003). "The Truth About the Catholic Church and Slavery". Christianity Today.
  13. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 78-79
  14. ^ Pope John Paul II in his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (1995)
  15. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church #2414
  16. ^ Paragraph number 2401–2463 (1994). "Catechism of the Catholic Church". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
  17. ^ Schreck, p. 317
  18. ^ Holy Office decree 1866, ref Panzer 1995, p. 110, Maxwell 1975 p. 87
  19. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 108
  20. ^ Thomas p. 104-105
  21. ^ Ephesians 6:5-8
  22. ^ Colossians 3:22-25
  23. ^ 1 Timothy 6:1
  24. ^ Titus 2:9-10
  25. ^ 1 Peter 2:18
  26. ^ Ephesians 6:9
  27. ^ 1 Timothy 6:2
  28. ^ 1 Peter 2:18-25
  29. ^ Colossians 3:25
  30. ^ Religion and the Antebellum Debate Over Slavery, by John R. McKivigan, Mitchell Snay
  31. ^ Rev. George B. Cheever, D.D., in 1857. "God Against Slavery (1857), by Rev. George B. Cheever, D.D., Showing Sinfulness of Slavery, p. 140". Retrieved 15 December 2017.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ Philemon 1:1-25
  33. ^ a b c d Dulles, Avery (October 2005). "Development or Reversal?". First Things. Archived from the original on 31 July 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  34. ^ Curp, T. David (7 February 2009). "A Necessary Bondage? When the Church Endorsed Slavery". Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  35. ^ John Chrysostom. "Homily 2 on Philemon". Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  36. ^ John Chrysostom. "Homily II". Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  37. ^ 1 Timothy 1:10
  38. ^ 1 Corinthians 7:21-23
  39. ^ Goodell, The American Slave Code. Pt. I Ch. VII
  40. ^ "Slavery in the Middle Ages".
  41. ^ Deuteronomy 23:15-16
  42. ^ Luis M. Bermejo, S.J., Infallibility on Trial, 1992, Christian Classics, Inc., ISBN 0-87061-190-9, p. 313.
  43. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, [1], Accessed 10 September 2009.
  44. ^ Augustine of Hippo. ""Chapter 15 - Of the Liberty Proper to Man's Nature, and the Servitude Introduced by Sin—A Servitude in Which the Man Whose Will is Wicked is the Slave of His Own Lust, Though He is Free So Far as Regards Other Men." in City of God (Book 19 )". Retrieved 11 February 2016. God ... did not intend that His rational creature, who was made in His image, should have dominion over anything but the irrational creation - not man over man, but man over the beasts ... the condition of slavery is the result of sin ... It [slave] is a name .. introduced by sin and not by nature ... circumstances [under which men could become slaves] could never have arisen save [i.e. except] through sin ... The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow [sinful man] ... But by nature, as God first created us, no one is the slave either of man or of sin.
  45. ^ Augustine of Hippo. ""Chapter 15 - Of the Liberty Proper to Man's Nature, and the Servitude Introduced by Sin — A Servitude in Which the Man Whose Will is Wicked is the Slave of His Own Lust, Though He is Free So Far as Regards Other Men." in City of God (Book 19)". Retrieved 11 February 2016. God ... did not intend that His rational creature, who was made in His image, should have dominion over anything but the irrational creation - not man over man, but man over the beasts ... the condition of slavery is the result of sin ... It [slave] is a name, therefore, introduced by sin and not by nature ... circumstances [under which men can become slaves] could never have arisen save [i.e. except] through sin ... The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin which brings man under the dominion of his fellow [sinful man] ... But by nature, as God first created us, no one is the slave either of man or of sin.
  46. ^ Marshall, Chris (2005). "The contours of biblical justice". The little book of biblical justice. Good Books. pp. 25–26. ISBN 9781561485055. In the biblical creation narratives, it is only human beings who are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27, compare with 2:7, 5:1-2, 9:6). Humans are created to be representatives of God - a kind of icon of God in the world. They are the means by which God's loving rule is to be made visible on earth. Since God is a God of justice, those who bear God's image must also be agents of justice ... Tragically, the entry of sin has distorted humanity's capacity to know the truth about God and to live justly. Rivalry, violence, and corruption have erupted in the human community (Genesis 4:1-16,23-24, 6:1-8,11-13).
  47. ^ Genesis 1:27-31, ESV Bible. Crossway. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them ... And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
  48. ^ a b John Chrysostom. "Homily 22 on Ephesians". Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  49. ^ a b John Chrysostom. "Homily XXII". Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  50. ^ Clarence-Smith, 8
  51. ^ a b Rowling, Marjorie. Life in Medieval Times.
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  53. ^ Hayes, 66
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  55. ^ Barmby, James (1879). Gregory the Great. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. p. 203.
  56. ^ Durant, Will (1950). The Age of Faith. The Story of Civilization. 4. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 554.
  57. ^ Thomas Aquinas Q94, A5 In this sense, "the possession of all things in common and universal freedom" are said to be of the natural law, because, to wit, the distinction of possessions and slavery were not brought in by nature, but devised by human reason for the benefit of human life.
  58. ^ Maxwell p. 47
  59. ^ Maxwell p. 84
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  62. ^ Weithman 356
  63. ^ Clarence-Smith, 9
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  68. ^ Pelteret, 255-258
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  70. ^ Pelteret, 83 & 86
  71. ^ Ambe J. Njoh, Tradition, culture and development in Africa (2006), page 31
  72. ^ Maxwell p. 48-49
  73. ^ Alison Williams Lewin, Negotiating Survival: Florence and the Great Schism, 1378-1417 (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2003), p. 45, citing Gene A. Brucker, Florentine Politics and Society, 1343-1378 (Princeton UP, 1962), p. 310.
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  81. ^ "The Papacy and the Levant", p. 46
  82. ^ "Slavery and the Catholic Church", John Francis Maxwell, p. 49, Barry Rose Publishers, 1975
  83. ^ "The African Slave Trade", p. 41, Basil Davidson, James Currey Publishers, 1961, ISBN 0-85255-798-1
  84. ^ C. E. Semmes citing V.B. Thompson 1987
  85. ^ "A history of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1450–1990", p. 144
  86. ^ Davidson 1961, P. 100 fn 8
  87. ^ Romanus Pontifex
  88. ^ Maxwell p. 54
  89. ^ Allard, Paul (1912). "Slavery and Christianity". Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 4 February 2006.
  90. ^ Saunders, A.C. de C.M. (1982). A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal 1441-1555.
  91. ^ Luis M. Bermejo, S.J. (1992). Infallibility on Trial. Christian Classics, Inc. p. 315. ISBN 0-87061-190-9.
  92. ^ Maxwell p. 55
  93. ^ a b Meade, Teresa (2016). A History of Modern Latin America. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 61.
  94. ^ Francis, John Michael (Ed.), Iberia and the Americas: culture, politics, and history, Volume 1, ABC-CLIO 2006, p. 903, ISBN 1-85109-421-0
  95. ^ Maxwell p. 76-78
  96. ^ "Famous Battles in History The Turks and Christians at Lepanto". Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  97. ^ Maxwell p. 74-75
  98. ^ Luis M. Bermejo, S.J., Infallibility on Trial, 1992, Christian Classics, Inc., ISBN 0-87061-190-9, p. 316.
  99. ^ "A medical service for slaves in Malta during the rule of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem". Retrieved 15 December 2017.
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  101. ^ Sublimis Deus, 1537
  102. ^ Stogre, p. 115, fn. 133
  103. ^ "The problem of slavery in Western culture, P. 170, fn. 9"
  104. ^ Lampe, p. 17
  105. ^ "Encyclopedia of the Middle Passage", Toyin Falola, Amanda Warnock, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, ISBN 0-313-33480-3
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  107. ^ "The Popes and Slavery by Joel S Panzer". Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  108. ^ "The problem of slavery in Western culture, P. 56"
  109. ^ Noonan, p. 79, Stogre, p. 116
  110. ^ a b Maxwell, 1975, p.75
  111. ^ Stogre, p. 116
  112. ^ a b c d Maxwell, 1975, p.118
  113. ^ Clarence-Smith
  114. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, Ethical Aspect of Slavery
  115. ^ indios, tanto cristianos como infieles.. Bull translated in Spanish.
  116. ^ "polycarp/slave". Archived from the original on 16 April 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  117. ^ Clarence-Smith, 10-11
  118. ^ Clarence-Smith, 11
  119. ^ Maxwell 1975, p. 124
  120. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 124
  121. ^ Panzer, 6-8, himself supporting strongly a "wide" interpretation, quotes from several opposing views.
  122. ^ Gerard Magill (24 September 2014). Religious Morality in John Henry Newman: Hermeneutics of the Imagination. Springer. p. 121. ISBN 978-3-319-10271-9.
  123. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 115-123
  124. ^ Swarns, Rachel L. (16 April 2016). "272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  125. ^ Panzer, Joel (1996). The Popes and Slavery. Alba House.
  126. ^ John Bigelow, The Southern Confederacy and the Pope, in 157 The North American Review 462, 468-75 (1893).
  127. ^ Holy Office, Instruction 20, June 1866
  128. ^ Maxwell p. 78
  129. ^ User, Super. "Home". Catholic Education Resource Center. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  130. ^ Maxwell, pp. 78-79
  131. ^ On the Abolition of Slavery, 1888
  132. ^ Gaudium et spes 27; cf. no 29
  133. ^ "Magdalene laundries survivors threaten hunger strike | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  134. ^ "Protestant abuse victims must also be heard". Irish Times. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  135. ^ Tom Roberts, Ghanaian bishop offers apology for Africans’ part in slave trade, National Catholic Reporter, 13 September 2002
  136. ^ Borseth, Vic. "Roman Catholic Church Teaching on Slavery". Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  137. ^ a b c Panzer, Joel S. "Defending the Faith - The Popes and Slavery: Setting the Record Straight". Retrieved 12 September 2009.
  138. ^ Panzer 1995, p. 59 fn. 117; "the Holy office is a true organ of the Pope and the magesterium" p. 38, fn. 70
  139. ^ Maxwell, p. 13, cf. Pope Innocent IV
  140. ^ "Envangelium Vitae", 1995
  141. ^ John T. Noonan, Jr. A Church That Can and Cannot Change.
  142. ^ Curran, Charles E (2003). "Change in official Catholic moral teaching". ISBN 978-0-8091-4134-0. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  143. ^ "Roman Catholic Church Teaching on Slavery". Retrieved 12 September 2009.
  144. ^ The Slave Trade, Hugh Thomas, p. 12, 1997, ISBN 0-330-35437-X
  145. ^ Maxwell 1975, p. 107, p. 117
  146. ^ "Development or Reversal? | Avery Cardinal Dulles". First Things. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  147. ^ Thomas , p. 31
  148. ^ a b Maxwell, 1975, p. 12
  149. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 34
  150. ^ a b Maxwell, 1975, p. 41
  151. ^ Peter Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Late Roman Empire, p. 63, 2002, ISBN 1-58465-146-6
  152. ^ a b c d e Maxwell, 1975, p. 36
  153. ^ Cochin , p.342
  154. ^ a b c Maxwell, 1975, p. 49
  155. ^ "The problem of slavery in Western culture", P. 100,David Brion Davis, Oxford University Press US, 1988, ISBN 0-19-505639-6.
  156. ^ "Black chronology: from 4000 B.C. to the abolition of the slave trade", Ellen Irene Diggs, p. 35, G.K. Hall, 1983, ISBN 0-8161-8543-3
  157. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 51,
  158. ^ The Historical Encyclopedia of World slavery, Contributor Richard Raiswell, Editor Junius P. Rodriguez, p. 260, ABC-CLIO, 1997, ISBN 0-87436-885-5; "Christopher Columbus and the enslavement of the Amerindians in the Caribbean. (Columbus and the New World Order 1492–1992)", Sued-Badillo, Jalil, Monthly Review. Monthly Review Foundation, Inc. 1992. HighBeam Research. 10 August 2009
  159. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 53
  160. ^ a b Maxwell, 1975, p. 54
  161. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 54, see also Thomas 1997, p. 64-67 for this period
  162. ^ a b c Maxwell, 1975, p. 51
  163. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 51; Thomas 1997, p.72
  164. ^ Thomas, 1997, p. 82-83
  165. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 55
  166. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 396
  167. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 124
  168. ^ Maxwell p. 68-70; cf. Thomas 1997, p. 125
  169. ^ a b Maxwell, 1975, p. 76
  170. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 52
  171. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 117
  172. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 71, 72
  173. ^ Thomas, 1997, p. 449, 464
  174. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 77
  175. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 456
  176. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 73, see Thomas 1997, p. 464 who thinks that though this censure is primarily directed towards Indians, it clearly covers black slavery as well.
  177. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 73, cf Thomas 1997, p. 665
  178. ^ The Gospel of Life
  179. ^ Maxwell 1975, p. 30, Thomas 1997, p. 31
  180. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 31,
  181. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 40
  182. ^ a b Maxwell 1975, p. 37
  183. ^ 816 AD
  184. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 42
  185. ^ Maxwell, 1075, p. 36
  186. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 43
  187. ^ Maxwell, 1975, p. 48
  188. ^ 1512–1517
  189. ^ Thomas, 1997, p. 396, fn 2,


Further reading

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