People’s Pope canonizes controversial figure

Written By: Daniel Felix

It’s ironic how a man unable to make a mistake has made such a big one. On Sept. 23 Pope Francis, the people-oriented Pontifex, finished the process of canonization for Juniperos Serra, granting him sainthood, an irrevocable status.

A shocking move by such a well-liked figure, Pope Francis has insulted California’s indigenous and non-indigenous people alike. I truly believe that Serra should’ve never been canonized because of the way he spread the Catholic faith.

Pope Francis decided to canonize, or grant Sainthood to Serra, an 18th century Spanish missionary known by the church and around the world for the prosecution of thousands of American indigenous, for helping spread the Catholic faith in California. Although I am not of the Catholic faith, I feel that abolishing someone else’s culture and making them believe in my own is not a good representation of Catholicism.

Serra should’ve never been canonized. Serra came to California and abolished the indigenous people’s culture in every way he could. If the indigenous were caught speaking their native language they were beaten until they stopped. Considering the lack of food, indigenous people would attempt to leave to search for food elsewhere. If caught leaving they were beaten and, if not killed, brought back to the mission, where they worked like slaves.

The exact number of indigenous that had been killed is still unknown. However it is estimated that it was in the several thousands.

At Mission Dolores we have one account of the indigenous lives that were lost due to Serra’s missions. “More than 5,000 Indians are buried at Mission Dolores in unmarked graves,” adds Andrew Galvan, an ancestor of the first indigenous that lived there.

In response to Serra’s canonization, indigenous Californians have staged weekly protests, posted YouTube videos and started an online petition demanding the pope rethink his decision.

“I’m outraged,” said Olin Tezcatlipoca, director of the Mexica Movement, an organization that educates the public about indigenous rights, said in a Huffington Post article. “This is sad because supposedly this pope is more enlightened and more progressive. This came as really shocking.”

The Pope has canonized 22 people the one before Serra being Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas who was canonized for opening the Dominican Sister of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem, Ghattas spread Catholicism without killing anyone and rightfully earned her sainthood.

I would like to believe that a man from the western hemisphere would take it upon himself to learn the American history to its fullest extent. Pope Francis, as people-oriented as he is, has had a big “Oh s—” moment upon canonizing Serra. This is another example to show that everyone can mess up and yes even the Pope.