Master Class on "Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas, OP: Christian Faith and Amerindian Rights"

Apr 6, 2018
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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David LantiguaUniversity of Notre Dame

Open to current university students and faculty. A link to the readings will be provided for registrants.

This class offers an in-depth overview of the life and writings of the irrepressible friar Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas, O.P. (1484-1566), identified by friend and foe as the “Protector of the Indians.” Since youth, Las Casas was intimately bound to the old and new worlds of Europe and the Indies, traversing the Atlantic at least a half dozen times during his life. He was a Renaissance churchman par excellence, inhabiting the various duties and roles of missionary preacher, theologian, bishop, historian, political philosopher, and canon lawyer. Incredibly, his legal advocacy and literary output was wholly dedicated to accounting for the injustices perpetrated by Spaniards against the native peoples of the Indies while defending their freedom and rights against European political domination and religious coercion to the faith.

In order to facilitate class discussion, each session will focus on a distinct yet interrelated theme that generally corresponds to two phases of the friar’s life: before his appointment to the episcopate of Chiapa in New Spain (1484-1543) and after (1544-1566). Session I chiefly considers the transformation of Las Casas from priest-encomendero to a Dominican theorist and practitioner of peaceful evangelization. Session II focuses on his advocacy on behalf of Amerindian rights as bishop of Chiapa in the New World and back in Spain.


Bartolomé de las Casas, The Only Way, eds. Helen Rand Parish and Francis Patrick Sullivan (Paulist Press, 1992), pp. 63-84; 112-116; 120-125

-----. Indian Freedom, ed. Francis Patrick Sullivan, S.J. (Sheed and Ward, 1995), selections


Gustavo Gutiérrez, Las Casas: In Search of the Poor of Jesus Christ (Orbis Books, 1993), trans. Robert Barr, pp. 363-395

David Lantigua, “Faith, Liberty, and the Defense of the Poor: Bishop Las Casas in the History of Human Rights,” in Christianity and Freedom: Historical Perspectives, eds. Timothy Shah and Allen Hertzke (Cambridge Press, 2016), pp. 176-202

On April 5, David Lantigua gave a lecture on "Early Modern Catholic Social Thought and World Order."

David Lantigua is Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame where he is also Co-Director of the Catholic Social Tradition Minor and faculty fellow of both the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Institute for Latino Studies. He previously taught at The Catholic University of America and was a former graduate fellow of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. He is author of Infidels and Empires in a New World Order: Early Modern Spanish Contributions to International Legal Thought (Cambridge, 2020). He is co-author of Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach to Global Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) and co-editor of Bartolom√© de las Casas and the Defense of Amerindian Rights (University of Alabama Press, 2020). He has published articles in Modern Theology, Journal of Law and Religion, and Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics.