The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

St. Columbus?

Thumbnail image for Ridolfo_Ghirlandaio_Columbus.jpgThese days, with efforts underway to elevate to sainthood contemporary figures like John Paul, Fulton Sheen and Mother Teresa, we tend to forget that a little more than a century ago, there was a great effort to canonize Christopher Columbus.   The Wikipedia entry on him mentions the push for sainthood in the mid-19th century. Other biographies also take note of it.
But one of the more curious efforts may be a Facebook page devoted to the Columbus sainthood cause.
The Facebook entry puts it this way:

Too long has our liberal education system maligned the great name of Christopher Columbus, the man of God who, entrusting his life to the help of God, set forth into the unknown to claim new lands for Christendom and bring those still in darkness to the light of truth found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without his faith and determination to see the glory of Christ spread to all the ends of the earth, the entire New World would not have received this faith, the faith of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. Let us honor this brave explorer and rightly claim him as a man of heroic virtue, a model of truly Catholic wonder and love of the good things in the world, an example of true faith in action.

Well. Okay.  I suspect others would beg to differ.

But meantime: Happy Columbus Day.

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posted October 12, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I would suggest that Bartolome de las Casas would be a better choice for sainthood over Columbus.

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posted October 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm

It makes it very hard for me to become a knight of columbus when:
Columbus himself was responsible for the deaths of millions of Native Americans (estimates range between 1 and 3 million) in first 15 years of his colonization of the Caribbean[2][3], including entire peoples’ such as the Taino[4] and the Arawak[5], and was the founder of the practice of slavery in the Americas.[6]
other than that I would join…

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Baron Korf

posted October 12, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Haha, if you are going to use wikipedia for your source of history then we can’t really help you. Whoever wrote that is ignorant of history and a master at insinuation. I would be interested to know how many of those deaths were due to the unintended consequence of disease. If that is the case, then we should blame the Chinese for the Black Death in Europe.
The Aztec were the slave masters of the Americas long before Columbus, and the Maya before them. The Inca as well.
And lets not forget the cannibalistic tribes in the Caribbean, and the Aztec religion requiring human sacrifice by the thousands.

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posted October 12, 2009 at 3:15 pm

This is a case of two wrongs not making a right. Yes, native americans practiced a number of evils–raiding parties, slavery, and human sacrifice. None of those activities, however, excuses the actions committed by Europeans who came to the Americas: Enslavement of native peoples, destruction of their way of life and, in certain cases, abuse so callous that it lead to their near total extinction. No one deserves to be the victim of imperial conquest.

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John Barone

posted October 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Blaming Columbus for the slaughter of the natives is like blaming Woodrow Wilson for the holocaust because the treaty of Versailles led to Hitler. Columbus was a brave and good man but a poor administrator. Instead of filling your head up with politically correct garbage read the biographies of Samuel Elliot Morison and Martin Dugard

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posted October 12, 2009 at 3:40 pm

We are always making a mistake when we judge the people of the past by today’s standards. I have no doubts that the world today would be a much better place if Europe had kept their nasty Western civilization and the African, American and Australian continents were still pristine occupied only by native populations and large herds of wild animals.

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posted October 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Columbus set out to the New World looking to expand trade routes, not to spread the faith. In my opinion our wonderful faith was spread as a consequence of El Gran Almirante’s trade interests… It was by the grace of God that the New World came to know Him.

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posted October 12, 2009 at 5:28 pm

“Well. Okay. I suspect others would beg to differ.”
A complete cheap-shot. These days “others” can always be found who will “beg to differ” on any proposition whatsoever. Think that you are not a figment of someone eles’s imagination? Think that something, rather than nothing, exists? Think that 1+1=2? There’s always a screwball who “would beg to differ”.
It’s a cheap shot not only because it’s a truism, but also because it allows you to make a negative implication without being called for it: “Oh, I didn’t say that *I* differ with that opinion, only that some others might.”
I’ve been told that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Well, sometimes that’s not a good idea. But if you’ve decided to say something that isn’t nice, at least have the courage to say it yourself.

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posted October 12, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Columbus starts the modern European exploration of the Americas, starting with the islands of the Carribean and moving onto Central and South America. This exploration was a *demographic disaster* for the native populations of the Americas. First, many natives died from diseases for which the people had no immunities. Second, the Spanish and other explorers subjugated those indians to the political and financials interests of the Spanish crown.
While there is no way to know how many Taino indians lived on Hispaniola when Columbus arrived in 1492, a Spanish census in the early 1500s put their number at 60,000. Within a hundred years, they were all gone.
Among the practices that lead to the demise of the Taino, the Spanish governors of Hispaniola and other islands would not only grant land to European settlers, but also *indians* so that the Europeans would have slaves to work the land. This isn’t supposition or political correctness. It’s historical fact. And it’s simply wrong.
Columbus was the first Spanish governor of Hispaniola, and historical evidence ties him to the beginnings of these practices.
I think of Columbus like I think of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson: Men who achieved great things, but who also had no problem with profiting from the subjugation of other people to the financial interests. In other words, they were human.

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posted October 12, 2009 at 10:42 pm

I always wondered why we, in this country, celebrate Christopher Columbus as much as we do. He wasn’t the first to find this part of the world. He didn’t even find the land he set out to find. He didn’t come here to spread the faith, as Michael pointed out.
To me, Columbus Day is a non-holiday.

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posted October 13, 2009 at 2:07 am

It’s evident that here resides both those who exhibit the results of becoming a product of our government school system as well as those who attempt to denigrate the faith that drives great men by attributing ulterior motives to their actions. These will never understand faith nor men of faith. And there will always be those who hate America,

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Steve Downstate

posted October 13, 2009 at 9:56 am

First Steve (the Steve who posted at 2:07 AM): Calling attention to a great injustice does not mean that one “hate[s] America.” Using your logic, those who say that abortion is a great stain on America’s history and culture must “hate America.” That’s simplistic thinking to the max.

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posted October 13, 2009 at 11:21 am

To Paul-Joseph, I don’t think this is simply judging a person in the past by today’s standards.
The first commenter named Bartolomé de las Casas, a Dominican priest who first came to the Americas in 1502, and who spoke courageously against the abuses of the indigenous people of the Americas, as did other priests in the Americas at the time. He is most famous for his 1522 work, “The Destruction of the Indies.”
So even then there was awareness of the crimes being committed against the people of the Americas, yet then, as today, gold won out over humanity.

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