Valentin Lopez: Founder of brutal Indian missions was no saint

Valentin Lopez, right, attended the Mass of Reconciliation at Mission San Juan Batista in 2012. Photo from Aman Mutsun Band

Valentin Lopez, the chairman of the Amah Mutson Band in California, calls on Pope Francis to deny sainthood upon Junipero Serra, the founder of the brutal Indian mission system in California:
Junipero Serra was the architect of the California mission system which was responsible for the brutal capture, enslavement, whipping, torture, and death of between 100,000 to 150,000 California Indians.

The missions also appropriated the lands of California Indians.

It is inconceivable to our tribe that Serra could ever be considered for sainthood and yet that is exactly what Pope Francis intends to do. It is for these reasons that our tribe, along with many other California tribes, oppose the canonization of Serra.

Many California tribes are also calling on Pope Francis to rescind the Papal Bulls that resulted in the enslavement of millions of indigenous peoples around the world. This includes the enslavement of the Africans who became the slaves in America, and the enslavement of California Indians. The Papal Bulls called for the conquest, enslavement, exploitation and domination of indigenous people and gave the pope's blessing to "put them in perpetual slavery and take all their possessions and their property."

Most recently, Pope Francis issued his Encyclical Letter regarding the environment and issued an apology to indigenous people. His Encyclical Letter declared that the destruction of indigenous people, Indigenous culture, and their environments is a sin; this is exactly what Serra did to our ancestors. How can the architect of these sins be considered a saint? And how can Pope Francis issue an apology to Indigenous peoples and still go forward with the canonization of Serra?

Get the Story:
Valentin Lopez: Deny sainthood to Junipero Serra (The Morgan Hill Times 8/4)

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