Slavery condemned by popes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 August, 1999, 12:00am

I refer to John Lee's review of Hugh Thomas' The Slave Trade in your issue of July 31.

The review mentions that 'from the very start, there were isolated voices of conscience [against the slave trade], mainly from the church'.

In fact, a whole series of condemnations of the slave trade were issued by various popes from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

However, much of the Catholic world ignored them, preferring to go along instead with the spirit of the age (see Joel S. Panzer: The Popes And Slavery published by Alba House, New York, 1996).

A parallel can be drawn with the response in our own day to papal teaching on moral matters which conflict with current fashions.