On January 2, 1492 the battle of Granada in what is today Spain ended with the Catholic monarchs victorious over the Moors. It was the last battle waged by King Fernando II of Aragon and Queen Isabel of Castilla to consolidate and take full control over the country.
It was later in that year that Queen Isabel, in a change of heart moment, found limited resources to fund and equip the Christopher Columbus idea of reaching the spice-rich islands of the far east by sailing west. It is from Palos de la Frontera, a small port town a short distance from Portugal that Columbus set sail for America where he visited its shores beginning on October 12, 1492.
There are other aspects of this moment in history that saw Spain come to our part of the world that are important to bare in mind. Among them was and is the fact that Spain is extremely demographically and geographically diverse.
Furthermore, early Spanish Catholicism was weak on the belief in the Holy Trinity and tended to be in-tuned with the Middle Eastern notion that Jesus was more of a prophet. That is why beginning in 711 the Moors, that carried the belief in the next prophet after Jesus, had a relatively easier time in occupying most of the country.
This left social and religious scars that had to be healed by Fernando and Isabel after the reconquest using a heavy hand. The “over-compensation” by the Catholic monarchs that at times carried the belief system to extremes was their way of unifying the country in the face of diversity of every kind.
This is what Columbus, brought to the New World. In its extreme, for example, if someone was not a baptized as a Christian, the person could not be considered human.
Recently, I had an occasion to attend mass at a local Catholic Church where the priest also offered a sermon on the evils of abortion. He grieved at the notion of killing the fetus in the womb, but said that things are getting better under President Trump who is going after abortion clinics.
The irony was that later, in the announcement section of the service, he read a letter from the Archbishop giving an update about the investigation on the sexual exploitation of children by priests. Apparently, this announcement was in anticipation of an extensive article by Claudia Lauer and Megan Hoyer of the Associated Press published in the Denver Post this past Sunday
I do not deny that the Catholic Church and especially the Evangelical community on the Protestant side have the right and obligation to stand up for the unborn. At the same time however, there appears to be less of an emphasis on the care of children after they are born.
The politics of the moment has children being exploited and used as pawns on our southern border. It has children living in cages, being separated from their family and making a mockery of virtuous-sounding words about the unborn as unripened fruit of a woman’s body.
Columbus did not come as the lone authority on the journey to America. Priests also came with his expeditions.
Later on, it was the priests that sought to baptize people they found as quickly as possible so that they could be saved or at least be less mistreated. They represented what was good and bad about the new religious authority in the Western Hemisphere.
Columbus provided that legacy. Our children deserve much more.