Maria Teresa Fattori

The Race of Slaves Sacramental Doubts about Black Slaves from 1686 to 1866

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Black Slavery, Race, Sacramental Life

The paper examines the dubia concerning slaves and slavery first presented to, and then resolved by, the Holy Office from 1686 to 1866. The written opinions of the consultors illustrate how the issue of slavery became a decisive element that led to exceptional sacramental practices in contrast to the Tridentine doctrine. While temporary, unstable solutions to the question of the legitimacy of black slavery were found, and pastoral care for slaves became a flexible issue, capable of recognising the specificity of the condition of slaves in the course of time. Dossiers and files documented in the Archives of the Holy Office are valuable instruments for analysing canonical provisions that regulated the condition of baptised indigenous slaves. The decisions that the Holy Office reached between the 17th and the 19th centuries focused on four aspects concerning slavery and the concrete conditions of slaves’ religious life. The chosen perspective of the sacramental life permits us to understand better the position of black slaves in the longue durée

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