Pope Concedes Unjustifiable Crimes in Converting South Americans

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Pope Benedict XVI tried Wednesday to quell anger in South America over his recent comments about the conversion of native populations, conceding that “unjustifiable crimes” were committed in the conquest of the continent 500 years ago.

The pope told a weekly audience here in Italian that it was “not possible to forget the suffering and the injustices inflicted by colonizers against the indigenous population, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled.”

He said in a speech last week in Brazil that native populations had been “silently longing” for the faith colonizers had brought to South America.

He said in the speech, “The proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.”

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