Mexican President calls on Pope Francis and the Catholic Church to apologize for his conquests

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The Mexican president on Saturday issued an open letter to Pope Francis calling on the Roman Catholic Church to apologize for the abuses committed against indigenous peoples during the conquest of Mexico in the 1500s.

In the letter, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also asks the Pope to lend Mexico old pre-Hispanic or colonial-era Mexican documents.

“The Catholic Church, the Spanish monarchy and the Mexican government should issue a public apology for the offensive atrocities suffered by indigenous peoples,” the letter said.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a rally to commemorate his first anniversary in office, in the capital’s main square, the Zocalo, in Mexico City, on Sunday, December 1, 2019 (AP Photo / Marco Ugarte )

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López Obrador has asked the Pope to make a statement in favor of Miguel Hidalgo, the Mexican independence leader in the 19th century who was allegedly excommunicated by the church for his involvement in the uprising. However, researchers later said that it appeared that Hidalgo had confessed his sins before being executed and therefore had not been 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.

Pope Francis delivers his blessing while reciting the Angelus Midday Prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, September 20, 2020 (AP Photo / Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis delivers his blessing while reciting the Angelus Midday Prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, September 20, 2020 (AP Photo / Andrew Medichini)

The letter comes as Mexico fights to mark 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 asked Spain for an apology 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 make the apologies that have been requested”.

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