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The bull Sublimis Deus was not retroactive. It could not be projected back in time. It could not remove the death, destruction, and dehumanization that the Holy See had unleashed for more than four decades on the basis of the Alexandrian bulls of 1493. Nor did Pope Paul II intend for the bull Sublimis Deus to liberate the Original Free Nations from the Spanish Catholic system of domination that had already been imposed on them based on the Alexandrian papal bulls. The most that the Indians could hope for as a result of the bull Sublimis Deus was to be “free” under or beneath the Spanish crown’s domination.

The history of political reality in the fifteenth and later centuries reveals that the Catholic Church never intended for the bull Sublimis Deus to remove Spain’s claim of sovereignty and dominium (it’s claimed right of domination) from the Original Free Nations. Pope Paul III and the Holy See remained protective of Spain’s claim to political sovereignty (domination) over the Original Nations. In fact, Pope Alexander VI had specified in his document Inter Caetera bull of May 4, 1493 that the Christian empire’s (imperii Christiani) system of domination was to hold the “barbare nationes” (original free nations) in subjection (“subjicere”) and domination “forever” and “in perpetuity.” And the centuries-long effectiveness of Pope Alexander VI’s authorization is demonstrated by the fact that the claim of a right of domination imposed in the past continues to be imposed on our Nations and Peoples in the present by state governments.


Indigenous Values Initiative, "On the Papal Bull, Sublimis Deus," Doctrine of Discovery Project (9 August 2022), https://doctrineofdiscovery.org/blog/newcomb-sublimis-deus/.

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