The first pope from Latin America has gone further than any of his predecessors in apologizing for crimes committed in the name of the Catholic Church during the colonization of the Americas. "I say with sorrow that the church has committed many serious sins against the indigenous peoples of America in the name of God," he told a summit of indigenous groups and other activists in Bolivia yesterday, per Bloomberg. "I humbly ask for forgiveness not only for the offenses of the church itself, but also for the crimes against native peoples during the so-called conquest of America."
Benedict XVI, the last pontiff to visit the region, created a huge controversy in 2007 when he claimed that during the Spanish and Portuguese conquest, indigenous people had been "silently longing" to become Christians, the AP notes. In his speech yesterday, Francis also condemned environmental destruction and unrestrained capitalism, which he called "the dung of the devil," Reuters reports. Earlier in the day, the pontiff surprised onlookers by visiting a Burger King to get changed before an open-air Mass in Santa Cruz, ABC reports. (On his way to Bolivia, Francis drank some coca leaf tea to combat altitude sickness.)