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Karina Loayza
Box 323-B

Survey of Church History

Professor Dr. Gwenfair Adams
May 2nd, 2016

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In 1572 when the Jesuit father Jose de Acosta arrived to Peru he found many challenges
for his task of evangelization among the natives in the most cherished viceroyalties of the
Spanish crown. His contribution cannot be overestimated because his work De Procuranda
Indorum Salute (On the necessity of attending the well-being of the Indians, 1588) constitutes
the best picture of the religious-political context during the first decades of the viceroyalty of
Peru, describes the theological mindset with which the task of Christianization was to be framed
in the following years, and constitutes the first missionary manual in colonial America. I will
argue that, in despite of his well-grounded theological reflections and good intentions, the
implications of the underlying premises of his missionary method -along with the socio political
reforms imposed by the viceroy Francisco de Toledo- were insurmountable roadblocks in the
path of the Christianization of the Andeans in colonial Peru.
The task of evangelization during the early years of the Spanish invasion of the New
World was made with the assumption that the conversion of the natives to Christianity would not
present great difficulties. The general assumption was that the pagan religious practices among
the natives were an expression of their untutored human nature. Then, what was needed was a
replacement of the native pagan rituals for Christian teachings and practices.
During the period after the invasion and destruction of the Inca Empire until the arrival of
Jose de Acosta (1532-1572), Spanish attempts for the conversion of the Andeans were by means
of accommodation1 which means that they made use of the native religious concepts to explain

1 As understood by Acosta, accommodation was a method of expounding Scripture by extending its meaning to
topics the scriptural author did not mention and could not have known about. (MacCormack, Sabine. 1991.
Religion in the Andes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, p. 261-262)

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their message. In this way, unintentionally, the ancestral beliefs survived under a Christian
The bulk of missionary efforts before the arrival of father Acosta was characterized by
forced conversions and mass baptisms without any type of instruction2. The friars and the clergy
in general did not even speak the lingua franca of the Inca Empire, Quechua. This fact created a
problem that father Acosta will address later in his Procuranda:
Quien, pues, este inflamado por el celo de la salvacin de las almas de los indios,
convnzase en serio que nada grande puede esperar, si aprender el idioma no es su
primera e incansable preocupacin. cmo un pueblo de idioma desconocido y
lenguaje misterioso a ti, aunque le prediques maravillas y le hables le Cristo divinamente,
en su corazn te va a responder amn, eso es, cmo te va a prestar su interior
The sociopolitical reforms of Viceroy Francisco Toledo had created an unwelcoming
environment among the Andeans in Peru by the time father Acosta firstly arrived. The Jesuits
were working in the parishes established in the reducciones (reductions), although forbidden
by the Jesuits constitutions because they were living so far from their religious communities. The
reducciones were resettlements of the Andeans in villages far from their own towns in order to
facilitate the tax collection by the encomenderos4 which they made without any control, and
2 Acosta, Jose de. 1540-1600. Jose de Acosta's De Procuranda Indorum Salute: A call for evangelical
reforms in colonial Peru. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, p. 15.
3 Jose de Acosta, por L. Perena, V. Abril, C. Baciero, A. Garcia, D. Ramos, J. Barrientos y F. Maseda. 1984. De
Procuranda Indorum Salute . Madrid: Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas, Vol. 2, p.49. [Whoever,
then, is ignited by zeal for the salvation of the souls of the Indians, should be seriously convinced that nothing big
he could expect if learning the language is not his first concern.... How people from an unknown and mysterious
language, although you preach them marvelously and talk to him about Christ divinely, would respond amen in
their hearts, how would they give you their inward affirmation?]

4 They were the Spaniards conquistadors who were rewarded by the crown with encomiendas which
comprised the given of land along with Andeans from whom they took taxes and hand labor. In theory,

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for the doctrineros5 and priests to instruct the Andeans in matters of faith, but more
importantly for the organization of the mita (hand labor) for mining in particular, among other
required public work like maintenance of the roads, cattle herding, etc.6
The system of encomiendas and reductions established by the viceroy Toledo had a short
life. The government report for the successor of Toledo in 1604 says:
Las reducciones que hizo el Senor D. Francisco de Toledo estn algo desbaratadas en las
provincias de arriba a causa de haberse muerto muchos indios y de otros que se han huido
por evadirse de las mitas y de las minas y de los servicios personales a que estn
repartidos y de las vejaciones y malos tratamientos que reciben de sus corregidores y
ministros de doctrina que son muy grandes y haberse otros recogido a chacras donde los
retienen sus duenos7
However its short space of time the system of encomiendas and reducciones persisted on
the mind of the Andeans as the paradigm of this new order in which they had been violently
thrown into. It is in the light of this reality that Jose de Acosta would try to carry out the
Christian message and for such a task he would write his Procuranda Indorum Salute.
they were not slaves however the system proved to be oppressive because of the lack of control. (Medina,
Alejandro Malaga. 1975. Las Reducciones En El Virreinato Del Peru (1532-1580). Revista De Historia
De Amrica, no. 80. Pan American Institute of Geography and History: 942.
5 They were friars or priests hired by the encomenderos to teach Christian doctrine to the Andeans. Such
practice was required by the crown in all its colonies.
6 Medina, Alejandro Mlaga 1975, 11.
7 Ibid. p.34. [The reducciones made by Don Francisco de Toledo are somewhat derailed in the provinces on the
highlands because many Indians had died and others who had fled to escape from the mitas and work in the mines
and personal services by which they were subject of great humiliations and bad treatment that they receive from
their magistrates and ministers of doctrine. Many are now working in farms where they are kept by their owners]

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Jose de Acosta spent fifteen years in Peru during which he travelled across the Andes
seeking to become familiar and knowledgeable about the Incas customs and beliefs. In spite of
the fact that when he arrived to Peru most of the conquistadors had died as well as the Andeans
who served the last Incas and by then most of the Andeans had already been indoctrinated and
some had been baptized8. Then, he returned to Spain and presented his book De Procuranda
Indorum Salute to King Philip II in January 24th, 1588.
His treatise was made with the desire of developing the best approach for the conversion of the
so-called Indians. In light of the unsurmountable task ahead he decided to focus his efforts on the
Andean people in Peru:
Y por ser las naciones de indios innumerables, y cada una con sus ritos propios, necesitan
ser instruidas de modo distinto, y al no sentirme yo con disposicin para tanto, por serme
desconocidas muchas de ellas, y aunque las conociera todas, seria trabajo interminable;
por todo eso he preferido ceirme principalmente a los indios del Per, pensando asi ser
ms til a todos los dems. Y esto por dos razones: la una, por serme a mi ms conocidas
las gentes del Per; la otra, porque siempre he creido que estos indios ocupan como un
lugar intermedio, entre los otros, por donde con ms facilidad se puede por ello hacer
juicio de los dems. Pues aunque llamamos indios todos los brbaros que en nuestra edad
han sido descubiertos por los espanoles y portugueses, los cuales todos estn privados de
la luz del evangelio y desconocen la policia humana; sin embargo, no todos son iguales,
sino que va mucho de indios a indios, y hay unos que se aventajan mucho a los otros9.
The very first step for the developing of Acostas missionary method is to legitimize the
rational capacity and ability of comprehension of the Andeans. His intention was to help and
8 MacCormack, Sabine. 1991. Religion in the Andes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, p. 264.
9 Jose de Acosta, por L. Perena, V. Abril, C. Baciero, A. Garcia, D. Ramos, J. Barrientos y F. Maseda. 1984. De
Procuranda Indorum Salute . Madrid: Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas, Vol.1, p.59-60[The Indian
nations are innumerable, and each with its own rites. They need to be educated differently, and I do not feel the
courage to undertake such a task since many of them are unknown for me, and although knew them all, it would
be an endless work. For this reason I preferred to stick mainly to the Indians of Peru and thinking to be more
useful to everyone else. For two reasons: one, I know better the people of Peru; the other, because I have always
believed that these Indians occupy an intermediate position, among others, and so more easily to make a
judgement of others. For though we call Indians all barbarians in our age that have been discovered by the Spanish
and Portuguese, all of whom are deprived of the light of the gospel and ignore the human police; however, not all
are equal, and there are some that are in more advantage than others.]

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encourage the European missionaries to undertake the evangelization with fairly confidence. In
doing so, Acosta follows an Aristotelian rationale in unison with his Humanistic formation- to
classify the American barbarian nations.
Aristotelian Rationale for the Classification of the Andeans
The motivation behind Acostas efforts to describe the inhabitants and the natural world
of America is to make sense of this socalled New World for the European mind. He
contextualizes his findings in terms of what was known in the Old World. For instance, he
describes much of the native fauna with European signified. Like for the auquenidos (Andean
camelids) he simply describes them as cattle and the dogs are not true dogs because they are not
anything like the European dogs:
In many parts of the Indies, I believe, almost everywhere, sheep cannot be raised
successfully because the grass is so tall and the vegetation so rank that only cattle can
graze there, and so there are innumerable herds of cattle. There were no true dogs in
the Indies, only an animal similar to a little dog that the Indians called alco, and the
Indians were so fond of them that they will go hungry in order to feed them10.
A central part of his effort to contextualize the Andean world is Acostas classification
following the Aristotelian concept of barbarians -used to describe all people other than the
Greeks. But later in Christendom, was not only a cultural and political definition but also a
moral and religious one used to describe all non-Christians11.
It is on the basis of this ethnographic classification that he develops his evangelical
model. Acosta identifies three types of barbarians and proposes a missionary strategy

10 Jose de Acosta. Edited by Jane E. Mangan, with an introduction and commentary by Walter D. Mignolo.
Translated by Frances Lopez-Morillas. 2002. Natural and Moral History of the Indies. Durham and London: Duke
University Press, p.230-31.

11 MacCormack 1991, 266.

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accordingly to each type. In the first category he recognizes the Asian civilizations, mainly for its
use of a writing system, porque dondequiera que hay libros y monumentos escritos, la gente es
ms humana y politica (Wherever there are books and writing testimonies, people are more
human and civilized)12. In the second category, nations as the Aztecs and the Incas are included
for they have developed high organizational structures, but because of their lack of a writing
system13 and keeping of monstrous rites and customs they are to be persuaded by a superior
power for the embracing of customs worthy of men because without this constraint they are not
to be trusted in keeping a civil life.
En la segunda clase incluyo los brbaros, que aunque no llegaron a alcanzar el uso de la
escriturasin embargo tienen su repblica y magistrados y finalmente alguna forma
solemne de culto religioso. De este gnero eran nuestros mejicanos y peruanos cuyos
imperios y repblicas, leyes e instituciones son verdaderamente dignos de
admiracin.Mas porque guardan tanta monstruosidad de ritos, costumbres y leyes, y
hay entre los sbditos tanta licencia de desmandarse, que si no son constrenidos por un
poder superior, con dificultad recibirn la luz del evangelio, y tomarn costumbres dignas
de hombres, y si lo hicieren, no se juzga que perseverarn en ellas; por eso la misma
razn, y la autoridad de la Iglesia establecen, que los que entre ellos abracen el
Evangelio, pasen a poder de principes y magistrados cristianos, pero con tal que no sean
privados del libre uso de su fortuna y bienes, y se les mantengan las leyes y usos que no
sean contrarios a la razn o al Evangelio14.
12 Shepherd, Gregory. 2015. "The Dynamics of Jos de Acostas Colonizing Voice: Ventriloquism in SixteenthCentury Ethnography." The International Journal Of Humanities & Social Studies.

13 This argument about the Incas is still debated among Andean scholars because there are many who
claim that we have still not learn how to read the Quipus. There is early evidence from the chronicler
Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa who consulted over one hundred of "Quipucamayos (interpreters of the
Quipus) in Cusco before writing his Historica Indica ( (MacCormack 1991, 81)
14 Jose de Acosta 1984, Vol. I, 63-65. [In the second class I include the barbarians who although did not reach the
use of writing ... however they have their republic and magistrates ... and finally some solemn form of religious
worship. Of this kind were our Mexicans and Peruvians whose empires and republics, laws and institutions are
truly admirable ... but because they keep monstrous rites, customs and laws and they have such a license for
excesses, that if they are not constrained by a higher power, with difficulty they will receive the light of the gospel
and embrace worthy customs of men, and if they do so they are not judged to persevere in them. Therefore, it is
common sense and the authority of the Church that establish that those who embrace the Gospel would be under
the rule of a Christian king and magistrates, but as long as they are not deprived of the free use of their wealth and

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The implications of his basic premise are problematic and they could be analyzed from
different angles. However, for the purpose of the present study I am going to focus my argument
on the impact that had over the evangelical task ahead.
Good News along with New Culture
By the time a band of Spanish soldiers led by Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru the Inca
Empire had already been in the peak of its power for about one hundred years ruling over a
population of at least eight million from their capital city in the Cuzco Valley and comprising
most of contemporary Peru and Bolivia, the southern part of Ecuador, and the northern part of
Chile. This information along with the archeological evidence of the development of a Valleywide Chiefdom dating from ca. 500 BC AD 20015 points out to the fact that this new world
was actually a very ancient civilization with a very complex intertwining of languages and
ancestral traditions, because the Incas had subdued several small kingdoms which had kept to a
certain extent their own rituals and beliefs.
We cannot overestimate the complexity of this ancient culture. Politically and
administratively the Inca Empire was the most sophisticated state in pre-Columbian America16.
However, Acostas imposition of western political and social hierarchies in order to establish the
degree of development of this newly discovered civilization creates a new set of standards
radically foreign to the very fabric of the Andean society. In the mind of the missionary Acosta

property, and keep them the laws and customs that are not contrary to reason or to the Gospel.]

15 Bauer, Brian. 2004. Ancient Cuzco: Heartland of the Inca Empire . Austin: Texas University Press, Kindle
location 1118-1119.

16 Ondina E. Gonzales and Justo L. Gonzales. 2008. Christianity in Latin America. New York: Cambridge
University Press.

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the pinnacle of civilization was reached in Europe where the light of gospel is shining whereas
the devil was reigning in America:
After the might of the Gospel defeated and disarmed himhe attacked the most remote
and savage peoples.And so, once idolatry was rooted out of the best and noblest part
of the world, the devil retired to the most remote places and reigned in that other part of
the world, which, although it is very inferior in nobility, is not so in size and breadth.17
The implication of his categorization in terms of European standards is that he not only
deems Andean society inferior to that of Romans and Greeks but also he implicitly sets out the
path of progress to follow. What he does by way of comparison, in practical terms, is to identify
the step in which the Andeans are in the way of becoming a much developed society. There is a
need to be precise at this point, because father Acosta did not consider the Andeans as retarded
and slow to learn. He was on certain extent an advocate for the dignity of the natives.
Pienso que no hay que dar oidos a los que echan a los indios una culpa de la que ellos
deberian responsabilizarse y arrepentirse, hablando siempre mal de su ingenio y
condicin; a los que sostenemos lo contrario, nos llaman inexpertos, ignorantes y
novatos.Pero los que se jactan en decir esas cosas, quisiera yo que me respondieran,
con que diligencia, con que celo y con qu constancia los han adoctrinado ellos
mismos....Se recita dos o tres veces por semana el Credo y eso en castellano.Se les
obliga a que aprendan y reciten de memoria esos textos espanoles de los que no entienden
ni palabra y su pronunciacin es de risa18.

17 Jose de Acosta. Edited by Jane E. Mangan, with an introduction and commentary by Walter D.
Mignolo. Translated by Frances Lopez-Morillas, 254.
18 Jose de Acosta 1984, Vol. II, p.19.[I think we should not give attention to those who blame the Indians of
things that they should take responsibility and repent, always talking ill of his wit and condition; to those who
argue otherwise, they call us inexperienced, ignorant and novice ... but those who boast to say those things, I
would like to answer me how much diligence, zeal and perseverance they have been indoctrinated them...They
make the Indians recite two or three times a week the Credo and that in Spanish.They require them to learn and
recite from memory these Spanish texts of which they do not understand a word and their pronunciation is

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The problem is that father Acostas methods for the evangelization in colonial Peru are
rooted in his idea of inculturation or deculturization from the Inca-Andean heritage- which was
intertwined in his Procuranda and that he does not really take into account the complexity of the
Inca-Andean culture into his missionary methods.
The Missionary Strategy of Jose de Acosta
One of father Acostas biggest concerns was to understand why in the days of the early church
Christian teachers used to perform powerful signs and miracles whereas in his own age there
were no accounts of such miraculous events. In his explanation of such particularity, we see how
he is pondering to undertake his evangelistic task:
Pero en nuestros tiempos es muy diversa la condicin de las cosas; porque aquellos a
quienes se anuncia la fe son en todo muy inferiores en razn, en cultura, en autoridad; y
los que la anuncian, por la antigedad y prestigio de la religin, por su muchedumbre, su
ingenio, su erudicin y dems cualidades, son muy superiores a los antiguos. Ni el
ingenio de los brbaros es tal que sienta inquietud por las dificultades de la
fe.Finalmente, qu necesidad hay de grandes milagros, cuando lo que hace falta es
ms inteligencia, que sienta alguna curiosidad de conocer la alteza de nuestra doctrina?
Solamente un milagro se necesita para estas gentes del Nuevo Mundoque convengan
las costumbres con la fe que se predica19.
In his Procuranda the majority of Acostas guidelines for the missionaries is directed to
the high moral standard they must exhibit in order to make fruitful their efforts. Para edificar no
solo costumbres, sino la misma fe, se requiere santidad tan excelente que seria de desear
verdaderamente la misma de los Apstoles (In order to build not only customs, but the very

19 Jose de Acosta 1984, Vol. 2, p. 321.[But in our times there are very different condition of things; because to
those who our faith is announced are all much lower in everything, in reasoning, culture and in power; and those
who announce it, they are superior and in more advantage to their predecessors because of the antiquity of their
religion, the bigger numbers, their wit, erudition and other qualities. Also, the barbarians are not intellectually
curious.Finally, why the need of great miracles, when what is needed is more intelligence that feels some
curiosity to know the excellency of our doctrine? Only one miracle is needed for these people of the New World ...
that the lifestyle of those who preach would go along with their message]

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faith, holiness is required in so excellent level that we should really desire that of the very
It is precisely in this point that the rhetoric of father Acosta clashes with the harsh reality
of the colonial system. As Acosta had said, it was a miracle of a life consistent with the Gospel
message what were needed to allow Christianity to be credible for the Andeans. But that miracle
never happened.
The Clash with the Reality of the Colony
The arrival of Christianity to Peru was, in the first place, through the conquistadors and not
through well-meaning friars and clergy like the Jesuit Jose de Acosta. The Spanish conquistadors
had different backgrounds and their experiences varied from each other. In this sense, Matthew
Restall and Kris Lane have reconstructed an archetype from the patterns of conquistador
A young man in his late twenties, semiliterate, trained in a particular trade or
professionArmed as well as he could affordready to invest what he had and risk his
life if absolutely necessary to be a member of the first company to conquer some wealthy
and well-populated polity20.
They carried the sword and the cross, as Justo Gonzales has put it21. The seed of
mustard was thrown in a bloody soil and not much could grow from such a soil. Indeed, Father
Acosta was aware of the hard circumstances when he wrote his missionary manual as he
demonstrates in the exposition of the methods for evangelization. He proposes three possible
methods for preaching: First, that of the Apostles confiding in divine assistance. Second, enter
20 Matthew Restall and Kris E. Lane. 2011. Latin America in Colonial Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, Kindle location 1787.

21 Ondina E. Gonzales and Justo L. Gonzales. 2008. Christianity in Latin America. New York: Cambridge
University Press, 40.

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into new villages which were already submitted under the rule of a Christian prince whether
justly or unjustly-. Third, approach the people but with the aid of soldiers. The experience of the
first Dominic friars of whom many had disappeared- taught that the apostolic method was not
the best to use in America. So what Acosta proposes is a combination of the second and third
Asi que el modo y orden de los apstoles, donde, se puede guardar cmodamente, es el
mejor y ms preferible; pero donde no se puede, como es por lo comn entre los
brbaros, no es prudente ponerse a riesgo, bajo especie de mayor santidad, de perder la
propia vida y no ganar de modo alguno la ajena22.
By this time, the Andeans had experienced the violent campaigns of the extirpation of
idolatries which were supposed to aid in their conversion. The task of the extirpadores was to
punish the Andeans who persisted in their ancient rites and traditional religions. Acosta then
proposes that the only solution to years of resentment and exploitation was to follow the example
de apostles in morality and compassion however with a military assistance- The reality was that
after decades of cruelty, the Andeans had learned to overcome their circumstances by mentally
resisting all the elements of Spanish culture and Catholicism was particularly one of them.
Other element that persisted in the mind of the Andean was the clerical hypocrisy that
contaminated the testimony of the church. One of the requirement for the encomenderos was to
hire a doctrinero -a fray or priest- to teach the Christian faith to the Andeans living under his
rule. In the practice, because of the isolation in which they lived and without any supervision
looked for ways to provide for their own wealth. Such circumstances led to the Pope Pius IV to
write in 1562:
22 Jose de Acosta 1984, Vol. 1, 302. [Wherever is possible it is better to follow the example of the Apostles.
this the best and preferred; but where you cannot follow it, as usually happens among the barbarians, it is not
prudent to take the risk, because you want to prove a higher holiness, of losing your own life and winning not the
life of others]

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Among the priests of Santo Domingo and other smaller orders travelling to the western
Indies and other lands and islands in the sea. There has opened such a great abyss of
hidden perversity that many of them appropriate riches sought after while there,
contradicting a solemn vow of povertywhen they return to Spain. They bring with them
such a great quantity of riches distributing it among relatives and close family or
dedicating it to other elicit uses, showing disdain for their religious vows, placing their
souls in danger, defrauding the royal treasury and setting a bad example to all23.
The process of thought that follows father Jose de Acosta in order to present the Andean
reality for his European audience involves the of the contextualization native Peruvian reality
within a radically foreign reality. In his effort to legitimate his cause for the evangelization of the
Andeans he imposes a taxonomy which standards would never consider neither the complexity
of the fabric of Andean society nor the profound implications of the colonial regime that
constrained the mind and hearts of the people in this New World.

23 Acosta, Jose de. 1540-1600. Jose de Acosta's De Procuranda Indorum Salute: A call for evangelical reforms in
colonial Peru. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, p.35.

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Primary Sources
Acosta, Jose de. 1540-1600. Jose de Acosta's De Procuranda Indorum Salute: A call for
evangelical reforms in colonial Peru. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Bernal Diaz del Castillo, and Miguel Leon-Portilla . 2000. Historia Verdadera De La Conquista
De La Nueva Espaa. Madrid: Dastin.
Bernal Diaz del Castillo. Translated by John Ingram Lockhart. 2010. The Memoirs of the
Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Vol 1-2. The Proyect Gutenberg .
Hernan Cortes, and Francis MacNutt. 1908. Fernando Cortes His Five Letters of Relation to the
Emperor Charles V. Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark.
Jose de Acosta, por L. Perena, V. Abril, C. Baciero, A. Garcia, D. Ramos, J. Barrientos y F.
Maseda. 1984. De Procuranda Indorum Salute . Madrid: Consejo Superior De
Investigaciones Cientificas.
Jose de Acosta. Edited by Jane E. Mangan, with an introduction and commentary by Walter D.
Mignolo. Translated by Frances Lopez-Morillas. 2002. Natural and Moral History of the
Indies. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Seconday Sources

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Bauer, Brian. 2004. Ancient Cuzco: Heartland of the Inca Empire . Austin: Texas University
MacCormack, Sabine. 1991. Religion in the Andes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Matthew Restall and Kris E. Lane. 2011. Latin America in Colonial Times. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Medina, Alejandro Mlaga. 1975. "Las reducciones en el virreinato del Peru (1532-1580)."
Revista De Historia De Amrica 9-42.
Ondina E. Gonzales and Justo L. Gonzales. 2008. Christianity in Latin America. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Shepherd, Gregory. 2015. "The Dynamics of Jos de Acostas Colonizing Voice: Ventriloquism
in Sixteenth-Century Ethnography." The International Journal Of Humanities & Social

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Personal Pastoral Reflection

I was told by a Nigerian friend that if I ever go to South Africa I am going to be
identified or classified- as a half-cast which means that they can tell I have white
ancestors ,however, I am not a pure-cast. I am a hybrid. I am Peruvian so I always knew
that I do have a mixture of heritages running through my veins which I deeply appreciate and
value very much- but it was not until I arrived to the United States that I became aware that this
particularity about Latinos or Hispanics, although this label is not actually accurate- has a
political and racial connotation that it is not always welcome. Suddenly, I was immerse in a
world where everyone is identified by their racial heritage. I have African-American, NativeAmerican, Hispanic-American, some White-American friends and few others Colombian and
Argentinians although here we are just Hispanics. Why our society is always trying to make
sense of the changes within it by ways of classify people in blocks that are not true to the beauty
of their uniqueness? This is an old tradition, anything new under the sun, as I have discovered
doing the research and reading for my paper. It is as old as the dialogues of Plato and Aristoteles
who had the luck of being the first as so we were told- in philosophy about what makes a man
a rational being, or what makes a nation higher than other. So the Greeks and the Romans traced

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the path that all civilizations should walk on. Many centuries later when this Western world
clashed the so-called New World, a new system of meanings were imposed in peoples mind and
now what they were was no longer valuable or worthy of keeping and be transmitted -except
their abundant wealth to support the Old World which they were forced to serve.
The marks of the colonization are still there for us to see it if we really pay attention to
how we are still trying to impose a ladder of civilization with which we place countries and
people and then classify them as first or third world countries, or developed and developing
countries. And the problem is that when we do so, we are ripping out people from their
uniqueness and their personal stories. We stop listening to the individual and pay more attention
to the foreign story you heard about them. We do not ask we just assume.
In many ways we are still like that first generation of missionaries to America. We go to
foreign places without speaking the language, unable to communicate unable to listen peoples
stories- but assuming they do need us. I am not saying that they do not need the good news of
Jesus because we are called to go to the ends of the earth. But what they do not need is our
understanding of what is civilized and what is not, they do not need to learn our language but we
need to learn theirs because we are called to love them first as God loved us and learn to live
like us- We need to become one of them, by Gods grace.