Coming from Columbus, Ohio I have always admired Christopher Columbus. There is a beautiful replica of his flagship, Santa Maria, in my hometown and I have boarded it many times for tours, etc. The Knights of Columbus are named after the Explorer of course and JPII was a staunch advocate of theirs, including in his native Poland.
Rather than try to defend Columbus or the Knights, who are easily defended in the faith, I was impressed a few years ago to see Apocalypto. This is the story of a native of the new world who was captured and nearly subjected to human sacrifice. He then escaped, and after finding his family well, views in the distant a ship much like the Santa Maria.
The question is, were the natives of the New World better off without the Conquistadors like Columbus? Were they better off with human sacrifice and slavery by dominant tribes?