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Pope Francis Insults Native People by Making Junipero Serra a Saint

By Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman | AllGov | September 8, 2015

Native Americans are upset at Pope Francis for his decision to canonize 18th-century Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra.

Serra founded the mission system in California, which helped establish the Catholic Church long before California ever became a state.

But the missions treated local Native Americans cruelly while trying to convert them to Christianity. Many of them were whipped, imprisoned, and put in stocks. Serra’s drive to “civilize” native peoples resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the eradication of their culture, Gary Kamiya wrote at San Francisco Magazine.

That’s why tribal leaders and others have voiced objections to Pope Francis’ announcement in January to make Serra a saint. Protests have been staged all across California and more are expected throughout the year.

Francis has tried to soften the opposition by apologizing on behalf of the church for its crimes against indigenous peoples. In July, Francis “made a sweeping apology for the church’s sins and ‘crimes’ against indigenous peoples during a visit to Bolivia” by “humbly” begging for “forgiveness in the presence of Bolivia’s first-ever indigenous president and representatives of native groups from across South America, who wildly cheered the pope and said they accepted the apology,” the Associated Press reported.

“Pope Francis has gone to South America and apologized,” Norma Flores, a spokeswoman for Kizh Nation, told AP. “Yet he is going to canonize the individual responsible for the genocide of Native people.”

Flores wants the pope to come to California and acknowledge the church’s specific crimes. “We will never forgive or forget, but we need that in order for our wounds to heal,” she added. The pope’s travel plans don’t include a visit to the state.

“Back in the 1930s, there were just two remaining speakers of our language, Chochenyo,” Vincent Medina told San Francisco Magazine. “When I went to my grandfather and asked him about the language, he said, ‘We don’t know the language anymore’… There’s a reason why it wasn’t passed down to him from his mother. The decline started with Junípero Serra’s policies. He used to gripe about how Indians wouldn’t stop speaking their languages. He wanted them to speak Spanish.”

Louise Miranda Ramirez, tribal chairwoman of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, whose people occupied large parts of northern California at the time of Serra’s arrival in 1769, told San Francisco Magazine she “felt betrayed” by the decision to canonize Serra.

“The missions that Serra founded put our ancestors through things that none of us want to remember. I think about the children being locked into the missions, the whippings—and it hurts. I hurt for our ancestors. I feel the pain. That pain hasn’t gone away. And it needs to be corrected,” Ramirez said.


Who Is the Controversial Missionary Canonized by the Pope?

teleSUR | September 24, 2015

On Wednesday, Pope Francis canonized Junipero Serra, a Franciscan priest, who is revered by Catholics but is also detested by some Native Americans groups who accuse Serra of abusing the native populations, subjecting them to forced labor, and cultural genocide.

Serra, an ordained a priest in 1738 is most famous for establishing nine of the state of California’s 21 missions in the 1700’s, effectively bringing Catholicism to the America’s.

According to U.S. census records, the population of native Californians dropped from approximately 310,000 when the missionaries first arrived to 20,000 at the start of the twentieth century.

Scholar Calley Hart attribute the sharp decline in population due to the discouragement of traditional medicinal practices, unsanitary living conditions, the lack of medical care along with radical changes in diet and location.

Native American groups argue that Serra, like many Franciscan missionaries at the time, forced native populations to work for Spanish settlements and were gradually stripped of their culture and religion.

“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.

Serra was first designated a candidate for sainthood in 1934 and later in 1988.


To Learn More:

Junípero Serra’s Missions Destroyed Entire Native Cultures. And Now He’s Going to Be a Saint. (by Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Magazine )

Pope’s Apology Doesn’t Change Opinions On Canonization (by Sudhin Thanawala, Associated Press )

Pope Taps Junipero Serra for Sainthood despite Pesky Complaints of Genocide (by Ken Broder, AllGov California )

September 19, 2015 - Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. The Catholic Church needs to fold up.

    Comment by FRANK | September 19, 2015 | Reply

    • And who would fill this vacuum?

      The Catholic Church is one of the few institutions promoting values other than greed and theft and self-interest within “Western Society.” It is part of the “West’s” criminal conquest of the world, but getting rid of it entirely leaves us with what Hollywood wants for us. Let’s make the church better instead – whether from the outside or the inside as you prefer and get Hollywood to fold up instead, or at least first.

      Comment by 4justice | September 20, 2015 | Reply

      • I thought a vaccum would fill itself? let’s have some sanity of belief.

        Comment by bloggerkarl | September 24, 2015 | Reply

  2. If you believe in God; you are going to hell!

    Comment by Bill Mitchell | September 19, 2015 | Reply

  3. When a site for a mission was chosen, one of the requirements was that there be an native village nearby, that they could use for slave labor. The natives were fed from troughs, like animals. Men were whipped publicly for disobedience; women were taken away to be whipped privately. Escape attempts were punished severely. The excuse for this treatment was that they were saving these native’s souls. Father Serra had to have witnessed (and permitted) a huge amount of brutality at these missions. But the slave labor was necessary for the missions to survive.

    Comment by Tanya Stone | September 22, 2015 | Reply

  4. what do you expect from the religion that invented the torture of the dark ages? …….and has a sacrament that mimics cannibalism.

    Comment by Rife | September 23, 2015 | Reply

  5. The Pope’s EGO-trip. “Look at how HUMBLE I AM!” $-TENS of MILLIONS squandered and tons of that awful carbon pumped out so he could parade his “piety”. How many of those refugees he loves so much could have been FED, CLOTHED, HOUSED? Hypocrit makes a big show of SLEEPING in a small apartment, then squanders MILLIONS when he is awake.

    Ship all the ILLEGALS to Vatican City since the Pope LOVES them.
    How many “immigrants” has the Pope taken into Vatican City? How many of
    the TONS of art and gold have been sold to FEED those “immigrants” in
    Europe. So now WE can just walk into Vatican City and wander wherever WE
    WANT with no guards or questions????? It is EASY to be GIVING with
    OTHER People’s money and property, let us see the Pope be “giving” with
    the Church’s TREASURES ……..Hypocritical JERK.

    Comment by albert | September 23, 2015 | Reply

  6. The Requerimiento 1513

    “…. Wherefore, as best we can, we ask and require you that you consider what we have said to you, and that you take the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it, and that you acknowledge the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world, and the high priest called Pope, and in his name the King and Queen Doña Juana our lords,…

    But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us.”

    Ah well, no pressure there then.

    Comment by PJ London | September 23, 2015 | Reply


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