Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Catholic Church and Slavery

Dr. David Curp (a professor and good friend from our Stuebenville days now teaching at Ohio University) wrote an article for Crisis a couple months back dealing with the history of the Catholic Church and slavery. (I'd wanted to link to it at the time, but Crisis doesn't put current issues on the web.)

The piece is not so much an apologia for the Church's conduct as regards slavery as an examination of how the Church has regarded slavery over the centuries and why. Critics advocating that the Church change her teaching on some topic or other are always saying, "The Church once endorsed slavery." Some, in their eagerness to defend the Church are apt to go to the other extreme and insist, "The Church has always condemned slavery."

Curp rightly reminds us that the Church has always seen slavery as an evil brought on by man's fallen nature. However, through much of the Church's history her concern was more for the salvation of slaves' souls than for the freedom of their mortal lives. Although slavery had nearly vanished from Christian Europe by the end of the Middle Ages (and even serfdom was gradually becoming more humane) it saw a revival during the struggle against the Turks, during which the Spanish and Portuguese were given permission to traffic in slaves captured in the wars against Islam. (And the which permission the Portuguese and Spanish stretched to enslaving pagan and even Christian natives of lands they encountered, though the latter was expressly condemned by several popes.)

It's a good summary of the history involved and well worth reading.

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