Over the summer, Pope Francis apologised for the “Many grave sins were committed against the native people of America in the name of God.” “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America,” the pope said. But his decision to canonise Father Junípero Serra, on his first visit to the United States next week, has angered many groups. An online petition against the canonisation has gained over 10,000 signatures. Many of the counter voices are descendants of those colonised. For Ron Andrade, executive director of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission, and of the Luiseño tribe, said Serra “decimated 90% of the Indian population”. Serra (1713-1784), was an ordained Franciscan priest and professor of theology by the age of 24. By 1749, Serra accompanied other Franciscans dedicated to missionary work in Mexico. He also preached, heard confessions, and assisted at Mexico City’s College of San Fernando. In 1767, Spain founded the first mission in California. Estimates put the Native American population at about 310,000; yet in under a century, that figure declined at a rapid rate, alongside cultural shifts. Spain’s […]
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