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Hello, I need some help.

A friend told me the Catholic Church was complicit in the Slave trade.  To back this up they cited a Papal bull by Pope Nicholaus V in 1452 called Dum Diversas on 18 June 1452 that authorized King Alfonso  V of Portugal to Conquer Saracens, and pagans and consign them to PERPETUAL SERVITUDE.

How does one answer this? Is this as bad as it appears on first sight.
Greetings, I do know that individual Catholics have been involved in the slave trade and the owning of slaves. But the Church has always condemned slavery. FishEaters website has links to some encyclicals on slavery here, but I'll post the links below as well.

Pope Eugene IV, 1431-1447 - Sicut Dudum http://www.fisheaters.com/sicutdudum.html
Pope Paul III, 1534-1549 - Sublimus Dei http://www.fisheaters.com/sublimusdei.html
Pope Gregory XVI, 1831-1846 In Supremo Apostolatus  http://www.fisheaters.com/insupremoapostolatus.html
Pope Leo XIII, 1878-1903  In Plurimus  http://www.fisheaters.com/inplurimis.html
Pope St. Pius X, 1903-1914 Lacrimabili Statu http://www.fisheaters.com/lacrimabilistatu.html
Pope Pius XI, 1922-1939  Mit Brennender Sorge (not slavery, but racism) http://www.fisheaters.com/mitbrennendersorge.html

Edited by Vox to fix links
(10-02-2018, 11:53 AM)JacafamalaRedux Wrote: [ -> ]Greetings, I do know that individual Catholics have been involved in the slave trade and the owning of slaves. But the Church has always condemned slavery. FishEaters website has links to some encyclicals on slavery here, but I'll post the links below as well.

The Church condemns some kinds of slavery. There's a difference between those conquered in war and those who are simply captured and sold into slavery, and it's the latter that's been consistently condemned. Dum diversas was about a just war against Muslim aggressors, and slavery as punishment for their crimes of aggression is permitted. That's far different than kidnapping innocent people and making them slaves, which is what the US slave trade was.

If "slavery" is intrinsically evil, then any sort of forced labour is wrong, and there are plenty of examples, from prisoners to drafted soldiers to jury duty, that hardly anyone thinks are wrong, and certainly aren't illegal even in societies that abhor slavery. And, yes, there are those, mainly libertarians, that argue jury duty is slavery - and they aren't entirely wrong, given that the government forces you to show up and do things with the threat of jail if you don't. That just shows that, like most things, and many things Protestant, "slavery = evil" is oversimplified, and the real teaching of the Church is far more nuanced. Not that those who hate the Church care about that.
It's really hard to have discussions about slavery nowadays because people's (at least western, english people) minds generally go right to the racial slavery of America. But slavery in the ancient world was never a controversial subject, it was simply a fact of how the society functioned, the slave class was huge and they served in a vast variety of functions.  Doesn't make it right, but I think this shows the greater complexity in the issue.

The Church has always been against the abuse of slaves (something very common), but it was not concerned with overturning this social order. Take St. Paul's letter to Philemon, if slavery was intrinsically evil he would have told Philemon (who is inferred to be a Christian) to free Onesimus and cease his evil, but he doesn't, but reminds Philemon that Onesimus has dignity as a brother in Christ.
Thanks I see this is more complicated than i originally thought