The Vatican and property law
By Ray Marilyn Hamm


Do you know your land title is connected to the Vatican?

European nations were claiming land in the 1500s.   In the early 1500s, a pope issued a statement saying that nations could claim any discovered land that was not already claimed by any other Christian nation;  the (heathen) people could live there and use the resources but could not own the land.  This came to be called the Doctrine of Discovery.

In the early 1800s in the United States, two people  claimed title to the same piece of land; one had bought the land from the government and one had bought the  land from the local indigenous group,  Who was the rightful owner?  who had the right to sell the land?!  

In 1823, the US Supreme Court ruled that only the federal government had the right to sell the land.  “The right derived from discovery and conquest can rest on no other basis, all existing titles depend on the fundamental title of the crown by discovery.”

Did you get that?  ALL our present titles depend on those decisions.

Until the 1970s, these assumptions were the basis of Canadian property law.   From the Canadian Encyclopedia, December 2023: Canada's foundation and current relationship with Indigenous peoples draws from the Doctrine of Discovery.

(For more details and overview, see article in July 22, 2022, Globe and Mail - How the Vatican encouraged the colonization. . )

Pope Francis repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery in March 2023.

New understandings of sovereignty and sharing, new treaties are needed.

(Relax.The folks I know do not want the land back.)