Jose de Acosta, Spanish missionary in South America

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Date: 1583

Region: Europe South America, Central America and the Caribbean

Subject: Religious, Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Print Journalism


Acosta.jpg

Artist: Jose de Acosta (1539 - 1600)

Confronting Bodies: Spanish Church officials

Dates of Action: 1583

Location: San Juan Island, Caribbean, South America and Spain

Description of Artwork: In his journal, Acosta criticized Spanish missionaries in South America and the Caribbean during the conquest in the 16th century.

The Incident: Acosta was a Jesuit missionary in South America and the Caribbean from 1572 - 1582. In his journal, which he presented to the king of Spain, Felipe II, Acosta described the horrific treatment inflicted upon native Americans by Spanish officials. His primary objections were the conditions that the missionaries condoned. Acosta wrote, "not only have we failed to bring them the news of Christ with sincerity and honest faith, but we have betrayed in our deeds what we professed in our words." Acosta also referred to the encomienda system, that turned Indians into slave laborers.

Results of Incident: Acosta's report was suppressed by a professor of theology at Colegio Romano and the head of the Jesuit order in Spain, Claudio Aquaviva. It was discovered in 1985 in the University of Salamanca and published by the Higher Council for Scientific Research.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, ed. D. Jones`