Sainthood for Serra gets Vatican OK

San Francisco Chronicle, By Steve Rubenstein, May 6

Father Junipero Serra, who has been inching closer to sainthood for decades, received official approval from the Vatican on Wednesday, to the delight of his supporters, who regard him as a legendary spiritual leader, and the dismay of many American Indians, who say he represents the worst abuses of the colonial period.

Serra fans in San Francisco were ecstatic when, half a world away, a Vatican panel signed off on Pope Francis’ desire, announced in January, to canonize Serra in a special Mass during the pope’s visit to Washington, D.C., in September.

“Somebody pinch me,” said Andrew Galvan, a native Ohlone and the curator of the Mission Dolores museum. “I never thought I’d live to see it. I’m the happiest Indian in California.”

Galvan has been leading efforts since 1988 to make Serra a saint. He said abuses by colonial powers were “unfortunate” parts of history and that Catholics, with Serra’s imminent sainthood, now have a “golden opportunity” to reach out to American Indians.

Serra’s elevation seemed all but assured after Francis declared in January he wanted to make him a saint. But there remained the formal approval of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the identification of a second “miracle” performed by Serra.

His first miracle was the curing of a lupus patient, who had prayed to him. There was no second miracle, but the pope declared Serra’s entire life’s work to be the second miracle, Galvan said.

The steamroller to sainthood remained an affront to many American Indians, who view the 18th century California mission system that Serra represented to have subjected their ancestors to forced conversions, enslavement and whipping.

“My blood pressure is going up right now, just hearing about it,” said Olin Tezcatlipoca, the director of the Mexica Movement, a Native American group opposing Serra sainthood. “This is a canonization of colonization, white supremacy and genocide. Does that sound saintly to you?”

Think Progress: Native Americans Say This Man Enslaved Them. Pope Francis Wants To Call Him A Saint.
Alternatively, Kathryn Jean Lopez over at NRO has this nice article: Junipero Serra and God’s Tender Mercy

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