Father Serra, A Real Saint or Merely A European Colonialist ?
by Jimmy Franco Sr.
Pope Francis has recently proposed the canonization of Father Junipero Serra into sainthood based upon his missionary work in colonial Mexico and the colony of Alta California. Normally, the process of canonization to achieve sainthood within the Catholic church requires two ‘verified’ miracles and Serra has previously been credited with one by Pope John Paul II. Pope Francis has recently stated that he is willing to make an “exemption and waive the rules” for a required second miracle so that the process toward sainthood can move forward. However, before designating Serra a saint for his religious work in early California, an impartial
Serra’s proposed sainthood ignites a debate on his historical role.
(J. Wilson/click to enlarge photos)
discussion needs to be held to evaluate the impact that these efforts had upon the indigenous peoples that he interacted with and evangelized to. For many people today, the issue of Father Serra’s role in the development of the California mission system and its harsh methods of conversion is difficult to confront and discuss in an objective and logical manner. Many academics and religious apologists have restated the worn-out phrase that we cannot assess and compare 18th century concepts, practices and any misconduct by California’s missionaries through the use of 21st century standards. This is fundamentally incorrect as this confused approach and form of denial would mean we cannot use present historical methods to record, analyze and evaluate any individuals or events from the past because we live in the present. This obstructionist position is simply being used to stifle an investigation of the historical facts that would clarify Serra’s role and help us to distinguish romanticized myths from the truth as sordid as it may be.
The spread of European capitalism, colonialism and religious dogma