The conquest of the Americas has also been addressed recently by St. John Paul II and Pope Francis.
In an address to native peoples during a visit to the United States in 1987, John Paul II acknowledged the pain caused by the encounter of Europeans with Native Americans, which "was an event of such significance and change that it profoundly influences your collective life even today. That encounter was a harsh and painful reality for your peoples. The cultural oppression, the injustices, the disruption of your life and of your traditional societies must be acknowledged," he said.
However, he also defended the positive aspects of the work of the "many missionaries who strenuously defended the rights of the original inhabitants of this land," who established missions and improved education standards while working to preserve the native language.
"Above all, they proclaimed the Good News of salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ, an essential part of which is that all men and women are equally children of God and must be respected and loved as such. This Gospel of Jesus Christ is today, and will remain forever, the greatest pride and possession of your people," he said.
He recalled the example of St. Junipero Serra, who presented Mexican authorities with a "Bill of Rights" of sorts for indigenous peoples. He also recalled how in 1537, Paul III "proclaimed the dignity and rights of the native peoples of the Americas by insisting that they not be deprived of their freedom or the possession of their property."
In 2015, Pope Francis also addressed the conquest of the Americas, during a meeting with native peoples in Bolivia.
He echoed the sentiments of St. John Paul II, asking forgiveness for the sins committed by some Christians at the time, while defending the actions of other Christians at the time, who chose peace over violence.
"I say this to you with regret: many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God. My predecessors acknowledged this, CELAM, the Council of Latin American Bishops, has said it, and I too wish to say it. Like Saint John Paul II, I ask that the Church – I repeat what he said – 'kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters,'" he said, quoting an address given by John Paul II in the year 2000.
"I would also say, and here I wish to be quite clear, as was Saint John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America. Together with this request for forgiveness and in order to be just, I also would like us to remember the thousands of priests and bishops who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the power of the Cross. There was sin, a great deal of it, for which we did not ask pardon. So for this, we ask forgiveness, I ask forgiveness. But here also, where there was sin, great sin, grace abounded through the men and women who defended the rights of indigenous peoples," he said.
The Vatican has yet to officially respond to López Obrador's recent request for an apology for the conquest of Mexico.