Cover image for To Heaven or to Hell: Bartolomé de Las Casas’s Confesionario By David Thomas Orique, O.P.

To Heaven or to Hell

Bartolomé de Las Casas’s Confesionario

David Thomas Orique, O.P.

COMING IN MARCH

$24.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-08098-7
Coming in March

144 pages
5.5" × 8.5"
4 b&w illustrations/1 map
2018

Latin American Originals

To Heaven or to Hell

Bartolomé de Las Casas’s Confesionario

David Thomas Orique, O.P.

“This is an important and long overdue work. David Orique’s study of how Bartolomé de las Casas used confession as a tool in his long struggle for justice for the indigenous people is compelling and faithful to the historical record. This is a major new source on one of the principal elements in the evolution of modern human rights, in which Las Casas was the central actor in the long sixteenth century.”

 

  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Subjects
This volume is the first complete English translation and annotated study of Bartolomé de Las Casas’s important and provocative 1552 treatise commonly known as the Confesionario or Avisos y reglas. A text that generated controversy, like Las Casas’s more famous Brevísima relación, the Confesionario outlined a strikingly novel and arguably harsh use of confession when administering the sacrament to conquistadores, encomenderos, slaveholders, settlers, and others who had harmed the indigenous people, thus using magisterial authority and jurisdictional power to promote restitution.

David Thomas Orique addresses how, from 1516 to 1547, Las Casas subscribed to and wrote about the theory and practice of the doctrine of restitution. He then presents the specific historical context of the development of the initial manuscript of the Confesionario in 1547 as Doce reglas (Twelve Rules), which later became the augmented Confesionario manuscript. Orique’s commentary on the 1552 Confesionario treatise highlights how Las Casas’s Argumento and its approval by theologians legitimates his work. Orique outlines the various guidelines proposed to confessors to identify, investigate, and seek restitution from offending Spaniards based on their possessions and circumstances. He also explores Las Casas’s use of the Thomistic tripartite scheme of divine, natural, and human law.

With insightful analysis and commentary accompanied by an eminently readable translation, To Heaven or to Hell will be especially useful to students and scholars of Latin American colonial history, early modern religion, and Catholic studies.

“This is an important and long overdue work. David Orique’s study of how Bartolomé de las Casas used confession as a tool in his long struggle for justice for the indigenous people is compelling and faithful to the historical record. This is a major new source on one of the principal elements in the evolution of modern human rights, in which Las Casas was the central actor in the long sixteenth century.”

David Thomas Orique, O.P. is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program at Providence College.