KINGSTON: The leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, is calling on Caribbean nations to demand reparations for slavery from the Roman Catholic Church in addition to Europe.
During an address in Kingston last Sunday commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Million Man March, Farrakhan said the Roman Catholic Church must be included in any discussion on the issue of reparation.
“When you talk about reparation, you can’t leave the Pope out,” he said. “There was something in the Catholic Church called the Papal Bulls authorizing slavery, it is a type of letter issued or patent by the Pope.”
He said Pope Nicholas V issued a Papal bull granting Portugal and Spain, “full and free permission to invade, search out and capture…unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be and reduce their persons into perpetual slavery”.
Farrakhan said even in today’s world, this Papal Bull is being regarded as “an endorsement of slavery” so the church cannot be left out when asking for reparations.
“You can’t leave the Pope out, nor can you leave European countries out,” he said.
Last week, at the conclusion of a conference on reparations in Antigua, the chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Reparations Commission, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, said the movement has been energized and the Commission is working towards mounting a region-wide rally.
“We are going to organize, with the support of all of these national commissions, a regional rally in which we will move the reparations banner from the northern Caribbean, through to the centre, to the south, all the way through to Brazil,” said Sir Hilary.
Beckles, a renowned historian and Principal of the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said such an event would engage the talents of artists, musicians and youth, while bringing regional and global attention to the matter.
As part of its mandate, the reparations commission seeks to establish reconciliation between victims and beneficiaries. It also seeks to achieve the Caribbean Reparatory Justice Programme 10-Point Action Plan that tackles various social, educational and economic issues including debt cancelation, public health, illiteracy eradication and psychological rehabilitation.