Pax Christi Massachusetts and the Agape Community held a beautiful ceremony repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and concluded by burning the document and planting a tree over its ashes. This event was part of a larger program named, “Listening to Native Voices: Standing Rock is Everywhere” where Native Americans led talks and shared wisdom.

The Doctrine of Discovery is a religious document that was created by Pope Alexander VI in 1493 that promoted the racist policy of discovering and conquering “new lands,” that were in fact already occupied. The Doctrine of Discovery gave religious validation to Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of America thereby promoting centuries of torture and discrimination for the indigenous people of America. Property titles and land laws in the United States find their foundation in and can be traced back to the Doctrine of Discovery. Therefore, the current discrimination and treatment of Native Americans finds its root in this document.

Here is a video of the ceremony. It is well worth watching these 12 minutes and 17 seconds. Also, here are photos of the event.