Value of the stamp celebrating Portuguese colonialism rises after the Vatican withdraws it

The pro-colonial stamp issues by the The Vatican Philatelic Office for World Youth Day

VATICAN CITY– The price of the “pro-colonial” stamp rises significantly after the Vatican chooses to remove the stamp from circulation, due to its recent repudiation of the doctrine of discovery.  

 The Vatican Philatelic Office has withdrawn the "pro-colonial" stamp, issued for World Youth Day 2023, which will be held in Lisbon from the first until the Aug sixth, and which Pope Francis will attend, but the withdrawal has caused an increase in value of the stamp.

 The image chosen to commemorate the Portuguese World Youth Day was designed by artist Stefano Morri and depicted the Pontiff guiding young people waving the Portuguese flag and the Church represented by Peter's boat, to discover what is beyond the horizon.

The official description states that the Monument that inspired the stamp is the statue called to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) which stands on the banks of the River Tagus, in Lisbon. The statue references Prince Henry the Navigator, who was a central figure in the Portuguese Empire monument, and the statue depicts Henry guiding his crew into new territories. 

 The Vatican choose to withdraw the stamp because the statue was commissioned by the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar, in homage to the architects of Portuguese colonial expansionism.

 Historically, colonialism and the Catholic Church were bonded through the doctrine of discovery which was a legal and religious concept used for centuries to justify Christian colonial conquests but has since been repudiated by the Pope and the Holy See.

 The decision to repudiate the doctrine of discovery was made less than two months ago on March 30th with a document that read  "The Catholic Church, therefore, repudiates those concepts that do not recognize the inherent human rights of indigenous peoples, including what has come to be known legally and politically as the 'discovery doctrine'”. A sentiment that was underlined by José Tolentino de Mendonça, a Portuguese Cardinal and prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and education who said that “the doctrine of discovery was not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church, and is repudiated in this note; but this tragic event reminds us of the need to remain ever more vigilant in our defense of the dignity of all men and of the need to grow in knowledge and appreciation of their cultures.”

 Despite the mishap, the pro-colonial stamp was still put on the market by the Vatican Philatelic Office, with a circulation of 45,000 complete sets, and caused much public outcry. 

  The public outcry was heard by the Vatican, as the Holy See immediately rejected the image commenting that it was in fact in very bad taste. 

 Portuguese bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo, delegate of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences commented saying  “Certainly Pope Francis does not identify himself with this nationalist image which contradicts the universal fraternity as well as his magisterium". The bishop also specified that the stamp "refers to a well-known work and epically evokes a pastoral reality that does not correspond to that spirit”. 

 The organizers of the World Youth Day deny that the stamp was in reference to the colonial statues saying that it was only meant to “promote the pontiff meeting with young people”, however, this statement was not listened to by the Vatican which chose to immediately withdraw its sale. 

 People who had already purchased the stamp are in luck, as the stamp has risen significantly in value after the Vatican removed it from sales, as it has now become a rare ‘collectors’ item. 


Monument commemorating Henry the Navigator