Serra: Saint or sinner? Canonization has foes in California

Feb 7, 2015 1:21 PM by News Staff

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (AP) - California's history can't be told without the story of Junipero Serra.

The 18th-century Franciscan missionary introduced Christianity and established settlements as he marched north with Spanish conquistadors.

But plans to make Serra a saint have reopened wounds for many Native Americans in California and beyond. They say the missionary wiped out native populations, enslaved converts and spread disease.

Indigenous Californians have protested outside the Los Angeles cathedral for several weeks.

An online petition asking Pope Francis to change his mind has more than 3,000 signatures.

But Catholics and scholars of Serra say the man must be judged in the context of his time. Serra considered himself more moderate than other missionaries.

Pope Francis plans a trip to Washington, D.C. this fall that will likely include a sainthood ceremony for Serra.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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