ST. JU­NIPERO SERRA Pope to can­on­ize Cal­i­for­nia mis­sion­ary de­spite protests

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

first fe­male — and the first les­bian — to be hon­ored in the Na­tional Stat­u­ary Hall.

Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan is Cal­i­for­nia’s other rep­re­sen­ta­tive statue in the U.S. Capi­tol.

The statue is­sue has died down for the mo­ment, and Mr. Brown, who once as­pired to be a priest him­self, has promised the Serra statue will stay put. Serra is a “very coura­geous man” and “one of the in­no­va­tors and pioneers of Amer­ica,” Mr. Brown said ear­lier this year.

‘Stun­ning’ hu­mil­ity

Sup­port­ers say hun­dreds of years of in­ves­ti­ga­tions and study con­firm such praise.

“Fa­ther Serra de­serves to be a saint. He gave his life in ser­vice to the Lord, bat­tled in­jus­tice, and inspired ev­ery­one who worked with him to be a bet­ter Chris­tian,” Bill Dono­hue, pres­i­dent of the Catholic League for Re­li­gious and Civil Rights, wrote in a re­cent pa­per called “The Noble Legacy of Fa­ther Serra.”

Serra was a de­vout, zeal­ous man who, once he ar­rived in Mexico, walked nearly 300 miles to “con­se­crate his mis­sion at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe be­fore com­ing to Cal­i­for­nia,” Mr. Dono­hue said.

Af­ter­wards, the priest founded nine mis­sions along the Cal­i­for­nia coast, in­clud­ing ones that pro­vided the seeds around which grew such mod­ern-day cities as San Fran­cisco, San Diego, Ven­tura and Carmelby-the-Sea. He set up agrar­ian so­ci­eties, in­tro­duced build­ing struc­tures and learned a lo­cal In­dian lan­guage to bet­ter speak and preach to their com­mu­ni­ties. He also bap­tized around 6,000 peo­ple, many of whom were In­di­ans.

Letters and doc­u­ments show that Serra of­ten stood against other Euro­peans in de­fense of In­di­ans, Mr. Dono­hue wrote. He was heroic, he told The Washington Times. “The hu­mil­ity of this man — his hum­ble­ness is just stun­ning to me.”

As­so­ci­at­ing Serra with crimes and abuses — es­pe­cially those that hap­pened af­ter his death — is “the ul­ti­mate mar­tyr­dom Serra has suf­fered,” said Ruben Men­doza, an ar­chae­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity in Monterey Bay, ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle in the Our Sun­day Visi­tor newsweekly.

“The his­tor­i­cal record on Fa­ther Serra and his treat­ment of the in­dige­nous peo­ples are as clear as records from that time can be,” said Mr. Lis­ton.

Mr. Lis­ton also noted that Mr. Men­doza’s ar­ti­cle mat­ters be­cause he was taught not to think highly of the Catholic mis­sions, but per­son­ally re­viewed the records with “an ar­chae­ol­o­gist’s eye.”

He “came to re­al­ize that the mis­sions were, in many re­spects, a sanc­tu­ary for the in­dige­nous peo­ple, both spir­i­tu­ally and so­cially,” said Mr. Lis­ton.

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