You [Native Americans] represent the first inhabitants of this immense region of North America. For many centuries you have marked it with your imprint, your traditions, your civilization.
(…)
Over the centuries, dear Native Americans, dear Inuit, you have progressively discovered in your cultures specific ways of living your relationship with God and with the world, wanting to be faithful to Jesus and the Gospel. Continue to cultivate these moral and spiritual values: the acute sense of God’s presence, the love of your family, respect for the elderly, solidarity with your people, sharing, hospitality, respect for nature, the importance given to silence and prayer, faith in Providence. Preserve this wisdom preciously. Leaving it impoverished would also impoverish the people around you. Living these spiritual values ​​in a new way requires on your part maturity, interiority, deepening of the Christian message, concern for the dignity of the human person, pride in being Native American and Inuit. That is, it requires the courage to eliminate any form of enslavement capable of compromising your future.

Your encounter with the Gospel has not only enriched you, but has enriched the Church. We know well that this was not done without difficulty and, at times, not without incompetence. However, as you experience it today, the gospel does not destroy what is best in you. On the contrary, it fecundates from within the spiritual qualities and gifts that are proper to your cultures (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 58). On the other hand, your Native American and Inuit traditions allow new expressions of the message of salvation and help us to better understand to what extent Jesus is savior and how is salvation is catholic, that is, universal.

This recognition of what you have accomplished cannot make us forget the great challenges facing your peoples in the current North American context. Like all other citizens, but more acutely, you fear the repercussions of economic, social and cultural transformations on your traditional way of life.

You worry about will become of your Native American identity, your Inuit identity, and the fate of your children and grandchildren.

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Pope St. John Paul II

Discoutse to the Native American and Inuit populations

September 10, 1984


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