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Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Tribal Indians condemn pope

A Roman Catholic advocacy group for tribal Indians criticised Pope Benedict's speech [AFP]

Indian leaders in Brazil have reacted angrily to comments by Pope Benedict that they had been purified by the Roman Catholic church since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492.

In a speech to bishops at the end of a visit to Brazil on Sunday, Benedict said indigenous people of the Americas had welcomed European priests after conquest.

"It's arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs," said Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, chief co-ordinator of Coiab, an Amazon Indian group.

The pope had said the peoples of the Americas had a "silent longing" for Christianity and welcomed European priests' arrival.

He said the church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.