|Galleria Sabauda, Torino;|
from a Renaissance painting
Since it happens to hear progressive Catholic authors say that one of the social effects of the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman/Western world was to lead to the abolition of slavery, it may be worth recalling this passage from Giacomo Leopardi's Pensieri ("Thoughts," first published in 1845, no. 66):
In our current century the black people are believed to be of a completely different race and origin from the white, and this notwithstanding, completely equal to them as far as human rights are concerned. In the 16th century the black, though believed to share one root [in Adam] with the white and belong to one and the same family, were considered -- especially by Spanish theologians -- as for their rights, to be, by nature and God's will, way inferior to us. And in both eras the black people were and are sold and bought, and forced to work in chains under a whip. This is what ethics is worth; and that much the beliefs in the field of morals have to do with actions.