Did Pope Francis Canonize a Saint or a Sinner?
by emmanuelledeguise on April 26, 2016 - 9:16pm
On October 17th, 2010, Brother André got canonized by Pope Benedict XVI for his miraculous acts and for his generosity. The canonization was all over the news, at least in Quebec. It was a great moment of pride for all French Canadians. Since, many canonizations were done, but it has not been as exposed, except one. Junipero Serra, a Spanish priest who was a missionary in California in the 1770’s, was canonized on September 23rd, 2015. This canonization was more of a controversy than a cheerful event. He founded many missions in California to colonize it and to convert First Nations Indians (Holson). What is controversial is that “[t]he missions ended up killing about 90% of the California Indians present at the time of missionization” (Burke).
Many have various opinions on this issue. First Nation people were the ones who reacted the most to this canonization. They argue that the Vatican is canonizing a sinner. For Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, “[i]t is very offensive to canonize the person who actually enslaved, whipped, tortured and separated families and destroyed our cultural and spiritual beliefs” (qtd. in Connor). Honouring Serra would be an act of racism and disrespect to Native Americans. On the other hand, Pope Francis states that he deserves this honour because “[h]e was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life” (Burke). In response to the First Nation protests, he said that Junipero “sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it” (Burke).
Since it happened in 18th Century, no one can be sure of what is the truth behind this story. The canonization of Junipero Serra will not be the first controversy around the Catholic Church. Another controversy with the Church is the sexual aggressions that many fathers did on children throughout time. It has been debated for a long time and the end is not near. However, many people still believe in the Church’s faith even with all those controversies. Maybe it is time to see the true faith of the modern Church.
Burke, Daniel. “Pope Francis canonizes controversial saint Serra” CNN News. Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc, 23 Sept. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
Connor, Travis. “Saint or Sinner? Pope Courts Controversy With Canonization of Junipero Serra” NBC News. NBCNEWS.COM. 23 Sept. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.
Holson, Laura M. “Sainthood of Junípero Serra Reopens Wounds of Colonialism in California” The New York Times. The New York Times Company. 29 Sept. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.