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AAP Goa President threatens political commentator with arrest for telling truth about Francis Xavier and slave trade by Jesuits, the Jesuits website admits to ‘slave trading’

While the AAP leader alleged that the post hurt religious sentiments, the official website of the religious order, the Jesuits, admits to an inglorious history of slave 'ownership, renting, and borrowing’.” 

On Sunday (26th May), the Goa state President of the Aam Aadmi Party, Amit Palekar threatened a political commentator, Abhishek Banerjee, with arrest for writing a post about Francis Xavier and the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Taking to X, Palekar tagged the Goa Chief Minister and senior Police officials demanding immediate criminal action and arrest of Banerjee alleging that he made a post that “hurt the religious sentiments” of Goans and Catholic Christians.  

Notably, on Saturday (25th May), author and Political commentator, Abhishek Banerjee shared a post about the Jesuits which was co-founded by Francis Xavier, and the religious outfits’s involvement in slave trading. Banerjee wrote, “This is Francis Xavier. Many middle-class Indians think the Jesuit order, which he founded, is some icon of education. The bitter truth is that the Jesuits used to own nearly 20,000 slaves at one point…More people should know about these horrors…”

Responding to the post, the AAP Goa President charged Banerjee with hurting religious sentiments and called upon the state administration to arrest him for sharing the post. 

Palekar wrote, “Call upon CM @DrPramodPSawant to take immediate criminal action and arrest @AbhishBanerj for the below post by him and hurting the religious sentiments of lakhs of Goans not just catholics but us all Goans. @DGP_Goa @Goa_Cops. I hope you remember what our PM said during election speech in Goa unless it was fake.” 

Retorting to the AAP leader’s threat of arrest and criminal action over the post, Banerjee stated that he merely quoted well-documented facts. He replied, “Sir, I am merely quoting Encyclopedia Britannica. This is a well-documented fact.” 

AAP leader alleges Jesuits’ ‘slave trade’ post hurt religious sentiments, the Jesuits website admits that it was involved in slave trading

It is pertinent to note that while the AAP leader alleged that the post hurt religious sentiments, the official website of the religious order, the Jesuits, admits to an inglorious history of slave ‘ownership, renting, and borrowing’.” 

The website’s, ‘What we have Learned’ section, admits that the followers of the Jesuits “owned, rented and borrowed” slaves to build, expand, and sustain the missionary work and “educational institutions” of Jesuits in the US.  

It states, “The Society of Jesus participated in the institution of slavery in North America from the colonial era until the passage of the 13th Amendment. The involuntary labor of the people the Jesuits owned, rented, and borrowed helped establish, expand, and sustain Jesuit missionary efforts and educational institutions in colonial North America and, over time, across the United States. The Jesuits’ use of enslaved labor is a legacy shared by all Jesuits and Jesuit institutions.”

It adds, “We learn more every day about the lives of the people the Jesuits held in bondage.” 

(The Jesuits admitted about the Slave trade, media reports highlighting the extend of it and narrating the ordeals of the enslaved people)

Notably, the colonial powers driven by religious zeal followed the evil practice of the slave trade and committed other atrocities in virtually all their colonies to plunder their resources, cultural subjugation, and annihilation of their native culture and civilisation including in India.  

Additionally, according to media reports in 2021, the Catholic order, the Jesuits, pledged $100 Million to “atone for slave Labour and sales”. As per reports, it was one of the largest efforts by an institution to atone for slavery and move to benefit the descendants of the enslaved people, the Jesuits once owned. 

The church officials and historians said that the move by the leaders of the Jesuit conference of priests represents the largest effort by the Roman Catholic Church to make amends for the buying, selling, and enslavement of Black people.

(Document listing names of Some Slaves, Image Source – The New York Times)

According to the Rev. Thomas R. Murphy, a historian at Seattle University, the Jesuits believed that the enslaved had souls, but they also viewed Black people as “assets to be bought and sold”. At the time, the Catholic Church did not view slaveholding as immoral. 

According to a New York Times report, the Jesuit records show that priests baptized the children of the enslaved, blessed their marriages, and required the people they owned to attend Mass (religious gathering). It also documents whippings, harsh plantation conditions, families torn apart by slave sales, and hardships experienced by people shipped far from home as the church expanded.

The report added, “Can a man serve God faithfully and possess slaves?” Brother Joseph Mobberly, S.J. asked in his diary in 1818. “Yes,” he answered. “Is it then lawful to keep men in servitude? Yes.”

(Snippets from media report stating that several top universities were built/sustained on enslavement funds)

Additionally, according to media reports, America’s most prestigious colleges and universities – Georgetown in Washington, DC, Boston College, Fordham University in New York, Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the university named for the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius of Loyola in Baltimore, Maryland – owe their existence to the money the Jesuits raised in the early 1800s from the sweat, toil, and blood, “drawn”, as President Abraham Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural Address in April 1965, “with the lash”.

Francis Xavier: From spearheading the Inquisition of Goa to tormenting the lives of local Hindus

Francis Xavier is the co-founder of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) along with Ignatius of Loyola and others. Apart from the Jesuits’ inglorious history of the slave trade, Francis Xavier spearheaded the Inquisition of Goa.  

‘Saint’ Francis Xavier set foot in India in the newly established Portuguese colony in  Goa on 6th May 1542 to spread the message of Jesus Christ. ‘Saint’ Xavier is a revered name globally, with many a teaching institution named after him across the breadth of India. However, he has a dark legacy of not only justifying practices like the Inquisition but orchestrating them, mass conversions of local populations in the Indian Subcontinent.

He thought of dark-skinned natives as ‘devils’. In The Letters and Instructions of Francis Xavier, he wrote that Indians made for poor vocations due to their lack of commitment — both to the order and to celibacy. 

However, in the annals of Indian history, he began to be described as the Modern day ‘Goencho Saib’ (Father of Goa). Click here, to read about the atrocities committed during his period and why his arrival in India is considered a dark chapter that initiated the Goa Inquisition. 

Making denigrated remarks about Hindu deities, he wrote, “Indians being black themselves, consider their own color the best, they believe that their gods are black … the great majority of their idols are as black as black can be … and seem to be as dirty as they are ugly and horrible to look at. Witnessing the destruction of temples & idols gives me so much joy.”

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Paurush Gupta
Paurush Gupta
Proud Bhartiya, Hindu, Karma believer. Accidental Journalist who loves to read and write. Keen observer of National Politics and Geopolitics. Cinephile.

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