Benedict XVI, visiting Brazil, said the Americas’ Indigenous Peoples had been “silently longing for Christianity” – “anonymous Catholics” no doubt! – when Catholic Spain brought it with the sword. I guess he was already working in the Vatican when ‘Indian’ became ‘cool’ in his native Germany in the last ten-fifteen years!
(By contrast, Alaska Natives embraced Orthodoxy without force when it was offered them freely, first by Russian *lay* fur hunters, later by Russian priest- and monk-missionaries. Furthermore, they retained it even after Russian [lay] fur-hunting companies basically enslaved their men and exploited many of their girls and women – retained it, in part, because the clergy, Church, and Tsar defended them and helped them. Retained it so faithfully that, after American companies, Protestant-dominated, arrived to make them wage-slaves, the Yankees complained because the Natives needed off for so many Orthodox feast-days! Retained it so faithfully that one little-educated Kodiak Islander named Peter laid down his life when the same Spanish in California – probably at the San Gabriel Mission near L.A. – tortured him to death for refusing to convert to Catholicism: died showing them his Orthodox baptismal cross. He is now venerated as New-Martyr St. Peter the Aleut. To this day a majority of Alaska Natives remain Orthodox Christians… it has been their “traditional religion” for up to 300 or so years – completely voluntarily. And unlike most of the history of the Latin faith among Natives of the Americas, Alaskan Orthodox have made the faith their own, from early years adding their own hymns and chant-styles to the Orthodox Liturgy and traditional practice, when for years Catholic Indians were required to silently watch the Mass performed far in front of them, or sing Gregorian chant.)