Bartolome De Las Cas Analysis

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Primary Analysis over Bartolome de Las Casas
Bartolome de Las Cases is a Dominican priest who wishes to protect the Indians of the New World from the brutality afflicted on them from the Spanish. Las Cases sailed to the New World in 1502 and stayed till 1547 before returning to Spain. In this time, he saw the cruelty his nation laid upon the natives in the name of Christianity. When he came back to Spain, he took up the defense of the Indians in a series of debates from 1550-1551 and a year later, wrote a summary of these debates. In this summary, Las Cases gives the major points of opposition headed by Sepulveda and then refutes these points in his own argument. Sepulveda is in favor of extorting the Indians under Spanish rule and claiming
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Those who would take up the side against Sepulveda would claim the only thing the Spanish were spreading was death as the natives resisted the Catholicism. However, resistance is perfectly acceptable to Sepulveda since he thinks he can back this method of spreading faith with a verse from scripture. He follows the teachings of Saint Augustine in saying when there are only a few priests to spread God’s Word, it is done through meekness, but when the Church has grown, it is right to force those to Christ. Sepulveda says, “Christ wanted men to be compelled, even when unwilling, to accept the Christian religion.” The verse Sepulveda references is the parable in which a king has a wedding, but after the king’s guests refuse to come, the king sends out his servants to gather everyone they can find in the streets. The fault in Sepulveda’s argument is the picking and choosing of a few words instead of the whole passage. If the verse had said to bring unbelievers to Christ by any means necessary, then there would be nothing for Las Cases to argue against. However, if one were to read this passage in scripture, the words “unwilling”, “force”, and “compel” are nowhere to be found. The words, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” were overlooked by Sepulveda. The key word here is “invited” and not forced. Sepulveda wants men to be drawn to God on their own accord, but if they resist, he argues for them to be compelled with force. Interestingly though, Sepulveda says, “he does not want the unwilling to be baptize. This is forbidden by divine law, and no law can oblige anyone to be baptized against his will.” Yet, he goes on to say that violence should be used to show the Indians their fault in resisting so they may freely choose to be baptized. The Spanish soldiers seemed a little to eager to spread the good news as many natives were forced in their baptisms. There are little

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