In 2015, Father Junipero Serra was canonized by Pope Francis. To some people, Junipero Serra deserved to become a saint after all of his work establishing numerous missions along the California coastline, starting in 1769 with the San Diego Mission (Junipero Serra: Saint or Sinner?, n.a). However, while the Catholic Church may commend Father Junipero Serra for his actions and even held him to sainthood, Pope Francis announcement had brought bitter feeling for the Native American community throughout California. For Native Americans and others, he is seen more as a glorified leader of genocide.
After his canonization there were numerous cases of vandalism in California missions such as the Mission San Fernando, where a statue of Father Serra’s hand were painted red and murderer was scribbled onto his statue. Other acts of such vandalism were also experienced at Mission Carmel and Mission Santa Cruz (Father Serra Statue Vandalism, n.a). While Father Serra did accomplish spreading Catholicism throughout California, which is a great feat itself and has greatly influence California society today; I do not believe he deserved to be canonized by Pope Francis to become a saint.When Father Serra was made a saint by Pope Francis he was required to have performed two miracles to qualify as a saint. He had only performed one when he had cured a nun of lupus in St. Louis (Debate on Father Serra and Sainthood).
Pope Francis had made an exception for Father Serra and made him a saint anyways due to his work with the missions. I disagree with this because while Father Serra did spread Catholicism along a great portion of California, he still did not meet the requirements of becoming a saint. While I do believe he should be recognized for his accomplishments I do not believe he should be recognized as a saint.
These exceptions opens windows for more exceptions to be made along the way. Additionally, his name is also trailed with blood.Father Junipero Serra’s name is commonly intermixed with the slaughtering of natives. It has been historically proven that Serra had physically abused and overworked natives that would not convert to Christianity (Holson, 2015). I do not believe it is right to have a person who is heavily associated with violence and genocide to be considered a saint.
Additionally, Father Junipero Serra is also responsible for the desecration of the Native American cultures and populations as a result of converting the Native Americans to Christianity. Serra’s conquest into the California coast brought disease to the Native populations that resulted with the populations dropping significantly, with the Native American population dropping 300,000 to 200,000 within a five year period (Junipero Serra Saint or Sinner?). In terms of desecration to the culture, when the Natives converted the Christianity they also had to convert their lifestyles to be like the Europeans. Additionally. Serra’s work also resulted with tribes losing touch of their traditional language, beliefs and ways of life (Junipero Serra Saint or Sinner?). When looking at the facts surrounding the canonization of Father Junipero Serra, I do not think he should have been made a saint. Although Serra did do great things in terms of his success of spreading Christianity to California, he also nearly destroyed a whole culture.
I also believe that his canonization brings a bad image to the Catholic faith.