Serra – Saint or Monster?
Published September 23, 2015
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis will make a saint out Junipero Serra today at the National Basilica in Washington, D.C. Members of the California American Indian tribes and others in Indian Country feel Serra was a monster, not a saint.
Valentin Lopez opposes the canonization of Serra. Courtesy of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
“Pope Francis continues to ignore the true history of what happened to American Indian tribes in California. What Serra did to Indians was about the conquest of our people,” commented Valentin Lopez, Chairman, the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of Costanoan/Ohlone Indians to Native News Online on Monday. “This is a serious error.”
Serra was the first Padre presidente and architect of the California mission system from 1769 until his death in 1784. His policies unequivocally led to atrocities against our ancestors; he does not deserve the honor of sainthood. .
While many applaud Pope Francis for the many reforms he is instituting in the Catholic Church, they are also deeply shocked and hurt that he has decided to canonize Junipero Serra.
Serra was the principal perpetrator for the oppression of our ancestors. He instituted brutal policies, regulations and systems for capturing, enslaving, whipping and torturing Indians by the use of shackles and stocks.
Serra’s mission system resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 California Indians and the extermination of many California tribes. He and his fellow friars effectively and intentionally destroyed the culture, spiritual beliefs and the environment of our ancestors.
In Pope Francis’ apology earlier this year to the indigenous people of the Americas, he referred to these acts as “sins, crimes and offenses” of the church.