Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Again Junipero Serra: “What not to do”

Edd Doerr of  Silver Spring, MD had this letter (“What not to do”) published in the Nov 6/19, 2015, issue of the rather liberal National Catholic Reporter (NCR) newespaper.    

Loring Abeyta’s excellent critical review of Gregory Orfalea’s book about Junipero Serra, Journey to the Sun (NCR, Sept 24/Oct8),(she called it "

Cloying book skirts damage Serra wrought") is backed up and reinforced by California Latino author Elias Castillo’s well-researched and documented 2015 book, A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions. Serra’s mistreatment of the Indians was so bad that the Spanish civil governor of California, Felipe de Neve (1775-82), criticized him.

From a review of A Cross of Thorns:
The myth of California’s missions as a nurturing environment for Indians is stripped away by Elias Castillo. Instead, he reveals the Indians’ enslavement by friars who used whips, chains, and shackles to restrain the unwilling prisoners who provided the labor force for the missions.

Through study of historical reports and letters, Castillo describes the efforts of Father Junipero Serra, father of the state’s mission system, to gain more souls in heaven. But it came at the expense of Indians wrenched from their lives close to nature into a worse one. Serra may be canonized by Pope Francis, but his legacy is stained.

The book is thoroughly researched and well written. It depicts a sad period in California history.

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