Opposition to Serra Sainthood

California Indians DemandCruelty to Ancestors be Disclosed as California Mission Foundation tries to Declare El Camino Real a UNESCO World Heritage Site  A proposal by the California Mission Foundation to have the state’s famed El Camino Real route declared a UNESCO Heritage Site is being bitterly opposed by state Indians who said it would only “honor and glorify the brutal conquest” of Indian lands.

AlJazeera Report on Canonization of Junipero Serra  Some argue that California’s native peoples voluntarily joined the Spanish Missions founded by Junipero Serra in the 18th Century. “Not true,” Valentin Lopez of the Amah Mutsun told AlJazeera Television. “That’s why they had soldiers with them, to capture the Indians.”

“We Are Stunned” Lopez Tells CNN After Canonization  Sept. 23, 2015

Native Americans Make Last Ditch Plea to Block Serra Canonization    Native American activists and advocates met Tuesday, Sept. 22, in Washington, D.C., for one last-ditch effort to draw attention to their objection over the canonization of 18th-century Franciscan friar Junípero Serra reports the National Catholic Reporter.

Serra Gate: A Fabrication of a Saint  By Christine Grabowski, Ph.D.  There is a scurrilous fabrication being disseminated by the Catholic Church regarding Junípero Serra, the missionary whom Pope Francis intends to canonize on September 23, 2015. Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/09/16/serra-gate-fabrication-saint-161759?page=0%2C0

Listen to a discussion of the controversy surrounding Serra’s canonization including AmahMutsun Chairman Valentin Lopez as broadcast on Radio KALW on Sept. 14, 2015

How Tarnished is Serra’s Halo?  written by Vinnie Rotondaro in the National Catholic Reporter, this article explores the controversy surrounding Junipero Serra

Petition to California Gov. Jerry Brown to Oppose Canonizing Junipro Serra.    Please see Change.org  to sign our petition asking the governor not to remain silent on the proposal to canonize Serra. The petition has received more than 500 signatures in four days.

Tribal Chairmen’s Assn. Letter Opposing Canonization In an August 2015 letter Association members state their opposition to canonizing Junipero Serra and reason that the Pope must be “unaware of the deadly toll and devastating effect that the Catholic Mission system had on our nations and peoples here in California. How else can we make sense of you associating the image of “sainthood” with a Spanish Catholic missionary who instituted and imposed a Catholic mission system upon our ancestors with deadly and dehumanizing effects?

Association of Tribal Governments Letter Opposing Serra Sainthood The California Association of Tribal Governments has written a letter to Richard Garcia, Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey, Ca., his Holiness Pope Francis be asked to reevaluate his decision to canonize Friar Junipero Serra,” and asking for a meeting to reevaluate the church’s relationship with the families of all California Indians taken to the missions where they were enslaved. In addition, the letter states: “It is essential that his Holiness Pope Francis rescind the a Papal Bulls that comprise the Doctrine of Discovery.”

Letter to Pope Francis re Doctrine of Christian Discovery, September 10, 2015. New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends has ssent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to repudiate and rescind the Doctrine of Christian Discovery promulgated by predecessor popes.

Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown August, 2015, September 6, 2015.  The letter presents a second request to the Govenor to recognize the damage done to California native people’s by Serra and the Missions. State support of Serra’s canonization perpetuates the factual distortion of California history and sends the message that native lives don’t matter.

Is California’s New Saint More of a Sinner? The Amah Mutsun opposition to canonizing Junipero Serra is part of story reported by Public Radio International, a nonprofit orgaization whose content attracts nearly 19 million people around the world each month. “We’ve asked The Pope to work with our tribal members to begin a healing process. And we have not heard back from him,” Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, told PRI.

Tribal Psychiatrist Says Serra Canonization Will Deepen ‘Soul Wound’, “For the most part, California Indians have never healed from the treatment their ancestors endured in the missions, and making Junipero Serra a saint is going to make it even harder for healing to occur,” psychologist Donna Schindler told former Franciscan friar Mark Day.  In an article published in La Prensa San Diego Day explores the issue of historic trauma with Dr. Schindler.

California’s Saint, and a Church’s Sins  An opinion piece by New York Times writer Lawrence Downes describes opposition to the canonization of Junipero Serra. The piece quotes Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band: “How can Pope Francis and the Catholic Church speak or act with moral authority when they know that they have mistreated the indigenous people?” and the book A Cross of Thorns authored by Elias Castillo.

Far from Civilized and Scarcely Human,  Steven Newcomb, author and co-founder of the Indigenous Law Institute, describes letters from Friars Fermín Francisco de Lasuén and Junipero Serra demonstrating they regarded Indian people as posessions of the California Missions. His essay appeared in Indian Country Today.

Letter from Steven Newcomb to Gov. Brown  Steven Newcomb, author and co-foundeer of the Indigenous Law Institute, challenges California Gov. Jerry Brown to oppose canonization of Junipero Serra. Earlier the governor called Serra “one of the innovators and pioneers of California”

Letter to Gov Brown re Serra also Gobernador Brown re Serra (en espanol)   The Amah Mutsun Tribal Chair has asked Gov. Jerry Brown to join in opposing the canonization of Junipero Serra. The request was made in a letter delivered to the Governor’s Office July 17, 2015.



Letter-to-Pope-Francis-re-Encyclical-1 July 2015   also   Respuesta de Amah Mutsun a la Encíclica de la Iglesia Católica con relación al Medio Ambiente (en espanol) Presenting the Amah Mutsun response to the Pope’s Encyclical Letter regarding the environment

Letter to Pope Francis From Valentin Lopez (RE: Serra) Feb. 24, 2015  also   Carta Baierta al Papa Francisco (en espanol) The letter presented reasons for the Amah Mutsun opposing the canonization of Serra and requests that the Pope rescind two 15th Century Papal Bulls.


Letter to Pope Francis from Valentin Lopez May 9,2015 Requesting a meeting with the Pope regarding canonization of Junipero Serra

Letter to Pope Francis from Valentin Lopez, Apr 25, 2014 Advising Pope Francis that efforts for Indian leaders to meet with California Conference of Bishops were rejected

Letter to Pope Francis from Donna Schindler, March 12, 2015 Urging the Pope to acknowledge the Mission’s effect on California Indians and not canonize Serra.

Letter to Pope Francis from Donna Schindler, April 25, 2014 Describing how historical trauma is passed down through generations.

Letter to Pope Francis from Valentin Lopez, Aug. 29, 2013 describing the Amah Mutsun tribal history and requesting a hearing with the church.

Letter from Mary Valdemar JS SB 30May2015 “Although I believe that much good work is done within the church, today I am here as one of many Catholics who oppose the canonization of Serra,” Mary Valdmar, co founder of Chicano Indigenous Community for Culturally Conscious Advocacy and Action (ChICCCAA) told a Santa Barbara gathering in May, 2015.


Sign the Petition Opposing Sainthood for Serra We have until the Pope’s arrival in the United States Sept. 22 to deliver our message. Thousands have already signed. Please join us.

Program Features Arguments Against Canonizing Serra

Radio KPFA’s Visionary Activist Show features Valentin Lopez of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, and authors Matthew Fox and Elias Castillo discussing their opposition to plans to canonize Junipero Serra.  (Audio)


Demanding the Pope’s Attention  San Jose Mercury News, July 11, 2015 by Tracy Seipel

Several hundred people gathered at Mission San Juan Bautista July 11 calling for the Vatican to halt it’s plans to canonize Junipero Serra, founder of the California Missions. “The true history of what happened here has never been told,” said Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band that organized the day-long event.

Invocations from Day of Prayer Event Oppose Junipero Serra’s Canonization  BenitoLink, July 14, 2015 ChoQosh Auh’Ho’Oh, an descending from three tribes of California Coastal Indians, urged listeners to tell the truth about the horrors of Mission life faced by her ancestors.  She was one of a dozen speakers at the event.


Indian Tribes Reflect on Mission Life and Canonization of Serra LaPrensa San Diego, July 3, 2015 Many Indians at a gathering at Mission San Luis Rey say that while they are practicing Catholics they are strongly opposed to the Pope’s decision to canonize Junipero Serra.

United Nations Meeting Hears Opposition to Sainthood for Junipero Serra (Video) Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band spoke in opposition to the canonization of Fray Junipero Serra during an April, 2015 meeting of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: Intervention.   View text of remarks


Sainthood for Founder of California Missions Angers Native American Groups  Aljazeera America, May 28, 015 Members of several Native American groups gathered on Easter Sunday at the historic Carmel Mission to protest the proposed canonization of Franciscan priest Junipero Serra, who is buried there. The gathering sought to honor their ancestors who were also buried at the mission nearly 250 years ago after being stripped of their kinship ties, culture and languages.

Junipero Serra Sainthood: Native Americans Protest at Carmel Mission Cemetery on Easter Sunday Julia Prodis Sulek, San Jose Mercury News, April 5, 2015 As Catholics celebrated Easter Sunday Mass in the packed Carmel Mission, nearly 200 Native Americans crowded into the nearby cemetery to honor their ancestors buried there and to protest the impending sainthood of Junipero Serra, the friar who forced them into servitude.

Native Americans Protest at Carmel Mission Claudia Meléndez Salinas, Monterey Herald, April 5, 2015

Historic Trauma is Real, Valentin  Lopez Tells a Symposium at UC Riverside (Video) Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Band, argued against canonizing Junipero Serra at a symposium at UC Riverside on March 13, 2015. “Historic trauma is real and it ties back to mission times,” he said.

Steve Newcomb Discusses The Language of Domination in the Vatican’s Papal Bulls (Video) Steve Newcomb, co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, discusses the translations from Latin of Papal Bulls that directed actions of the Roman Catholic Church in unchristianized countries.

Junipero Serra Sainthood Belies Cruel History By Elias Castillo  Special to the Mercury News, Jan. 23, 2015 In the case of California’s missions, the coastal Indians paid a high price for their interaction with the church. Junipero Serra, who arrived in 1769, created a harsh and unforgiving regimen that would ultimately claim the lives of 62,000 Indians and devastate their civilization, including the extinction of a number of small tribes.

The Emerging Truth about Junipero Serra and the California Missions By Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, July 2015 ​”Reading this book (A Cross of Thorns) will set your hair on fire and your third chakra racing while your sense of moral outrage boils over.  Yet it is presented in subdued and sober terms, with fact after fact and story after story, building a sure case against the canonizing of Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra.”

Is going gangsta on natives any way to make a saint? If Pope Francis has his way, maybe.  MetroAction, San Jose, CA., Feb. 11, 2015 Amidst the controversy over Pope Francis’ plan to elevate Father Junipero Serra to Catholic sainthood this year comes a scholarly magnum opus, A Cross of Thorns, by Peninsula writer Elias Castillo. Based on seven years of research, the book shatters the image of the missions as peaceful refuges for the Indians and  will no doubt fuel the debate.

Pope Overlooks “Cultural Genocide” in Canonizing Fr. Junipero Serra Mark. R. Day, LaPrensa, SanDiego, May 22, 2015 Pope Francis’ confirmation of his plans to canonize Fray Junipero Serra in September has led Serra’s supporters to rejoice, but has ignited strong protests among some Native Californians who reiterate their claim that Serra oppressed their ancestors and was no saint.



Impact of Colonization on the Native California Societies The Journal of San Diego History SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY Winter 1978, Volume 24, Number 1 By Robert Heizer What I propose to discuss here is the theory of the Franciscan mission system, how it actually operated until its termination in 1834, the Indian reaction to the system, and its effects on the native population in cultural, psychological and demographic terms.

The Vatican’s Rhetorical Strategy: Serra Was a Man of His Time Indian Country Today, April 28,2015 By Steve Newcomb How has the Vatican responded to protests and sharp criticism from Indian people in California regarding Pope Francis’s announcement to declare Serra a saint? To accompany its acknowledgement of Serra’s use of “corporeal punishment” on the Indians of California as an “educational tool” of evangelism, the Vatican has said that Serra was “a man of his time.”

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