Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Did Junipero Serra embody the church’s direction?

Edd Doerr (arlinc.orgposted online in the Washington Post on 9/24/2/2015  -in response to the story “Serra embodied church’s direction, pope says”  -------

The canonization of Junipero Serra, a process begun before Francis became pope, should be a source of great embarrassment to the Catholic Church. It is certainly a slap in the face to the Native Americans who suffered horribly at the hands of the Spanish missionaries. The abuse of the Indians in California was so bad that the Spanish civil governor of California (1775-1782), Felipe de Neve, severely criticized Serra and the missionaries. The missions' mistreatment of the Indians is detailed and documented in California Latino author Elias Castillo's important 2015 book, A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish Missions. After Mexico won independence from Spain its government expelled the Spanish missionaries and closed the missions. And all this was before California became part of the US.

Curiously, the Vatican never canonized Bartolome de las Casas, the earlier missionary who exposed and criticized the mistreatment of Native Americans.

It is embarrassing that Serra's statue stands in the US Capitol. It should be removed and replaced by the statue of Thomas Starr King, the real American that Lincoln credited with keeping California in the Union during the Civil War. Starr King's and Serra's statues stood in the Capitol since 1931 until Starr King's was replaced by that of Ronald Reagan. Serra's should now be replaced by that of Starr King. Jerry Brown should start the process. 

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