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It is wrong to evaluate the actions of an era from the point of view of a different era. But neither can you remove choices and episodes that make you shiver

"It would be wrong to judge the actions of an era from the point of view of a different era," writes Alexandre Dumas, putting the phrase to D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers. Golden words. As demonstrated by the heated controversy over the demolition of the statues of so many men who in his time thought it was "normal", even though the word horrifies us today, to have slaves. Suffice it to re-read what even Abraham Lincoln said in Charleston, Illinois, on September 18, 1858: "I am not and have never been in favor of promoting in any way social and political equality between the white and black races; I must add that I have never been in favor of granting the vote to blacks or making them jurors, nor to qualify them to hold public office, or to allow them marriages with whites. ' Creepy.

Unfortunately, it also applies to the Church. It would be unfair, precisely because so many priests and friars and missionaries have fought against slavery, starting with the great Bartolomé de Las Casas who arrived in Santo Domingo as a slave master and dedicated his life to their liberation, to remove those parts of history that still today they make many Christians engaged in volunteering blush. Particularly in Africa. From where, according to studies, at least twenty million Africans have been kidnapped and sorted in Europe, the Americas and Arab countries. At least.

Of course, as John Paul II claimed in 1992 in his unforgettable visit of forgiveness to Goré, the Senegalese port from where the slave ships sailed ("Men, women and children were victims of a shameful trade in which baptized people took part but who have not lived their faith: how can we forget the enormous sufferings inflicted, despising the most basic human rights, on the populations deported from the African continent? ") the Church already condemned slavery in a 1462 letter of Pius II as a crime:" magnum Scelus ". But these were statements of principle taken for granted and betrayed.

The silence on the theme of the Council of Trent, opened in 1545 when the routes to America had already been open for half a century and the trafficking of blacks had already been started by the very Catholic Portuguese (complete with baptism to the abductees administered on board), the says a lot. As well as the use of 475 slaves on board the ships of the papal fleet based in Civitavecchia still in 1726. Woe to judge by today's meter. But even forgetting about it is unbearable.