The president of Mexico published an open letter to Pope Francis on Saturday asking the Roman Catholic Church to apologize for the abuses of indigenous peoples during the conquest of Mexico in 1500.
In the letter, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also asks the pope to lend Mexico ancient pre-Hispanic or colonial-era Mexican documents.
“The Catholic Church, the Spanish monarchy and the Mexican government should publicly apologize for the offensive atrocities that the indigenous people have suffered,” the letter said.
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López Obrador asked the pope to make a statement in favor of Miguel Hidalgo, the 19th-century Mexican independence leader who was once believed to have been excommunicated from the church for his involvement in the revolt. However, researchers later said it appeared that Hidalgo had confessed his sins before he was executed and thus was not excommunicated.
López Obrador said: “I think it would be an act of humility and at the same time of greatness” for the church to reconcile posthumously with Hidalgo.
The letter comes as Mexico struggles to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the conquest of 1519-1521, which resulted in the deaths of much of the country’s pre-Hispanic population.
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In 2019, López Obrador apologized to Spain for the conquest, in which millions of indigenous people died from violence and disease.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said at the time that Spain “will not issue the requested apology”.