To: His Holiness, Pope Francis
Urge Pope Francis to abandon the canonization of Junipero Serra
Pope Francis is coming to Washington, D.C. to canonize Junipero Serra as a Saint. It is imperative he is enlightened to understand that Father Serra was responsible for the deception, exploitation, oppression, enslavement and genocide of thousands of Indigenous Californians, ultimately resulting in the largest ethnic cleansing in North America.
The reality of the California Mission system has yet to be accurately taught in California schools or recognized by the Catholic Church. Elementary school children tour mission grounds and are taught that native people were "docile and child-like savage pagans, saved by the kind and benevolent padres". In reality, the human remains of thousands of indigenous people are scattered beneath the grounds of the Missions that were built by Indian slaves as garrisons for the church and Spanish crown. Indigenous people died of rape, beatings and diseases introduced by the Spanish conquistadors in California. Spanish Priests did little to recognize indigenous people as humans and did not come to their rescue when women were raped by soldiers and settlers. With an over 90% indigenous mortality rate, Serra hardly "saved many souls".
Why is this important?
Descendants of Mission Natives strongly oppose the canonization of Junipero Serra. Pope Francis recently apologized to Native peoples in South America for past inhumane treatment and colonization; yet our ancestors were suppressed, dominated and enslaved by Serra and considered collateral damage to the Church and State. The canonization will not celebrate Hispanics (since Serra and his Inquisition Conquistadors were foreign invaders), welcome Native Peoples back to the Catholic Church, or honor our ancestors. It will re-awaken the Inquisition Doctrine of Discovery; a very dark, and brutal time in the history of the Catholic Church and Civilization.
The passage of time has not made the reality of dominations and genocide of Indigenous Californians go away, nor has it made the Mastermind of the brutal Mission system a Saint. We respectfully ask you to urge the Pope to vacate this plan and open meaningful dialogue with California Nations, in California, before his visit to Washington D.C.. We do not want an apology; rather, we need immediate action from the Vatican to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery and to recognize the inhumane treatment of our ancestors. This canonization is in direct conflict with the pope's position on protecting indigenous peoples in his encyclical on the environment. If Pope Francis is sincere in his intentions towards Native peoples, he will abandon the canonization of Junipero Serra now.