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Friday, October 9, 2015

The Making of a Saint





According to Merriam - Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, copyright @2007, a saint is - 1 : one officially recognized esp. through canonization as preeminent for holiness 2 a :one of the spirits of the departed in heaven  b : ANGEL 1a   3 a : one of God's chosen and usu. Christian people .... 4 : one eminent for piety or virtue .....
Recently Pope Francis canonized another man, Junipero Serra y Ferrer, O.F.M. into the Catholic Church's Hall of Fame (sainthood).  This writer has a question or two.  

Pope Francis spoke about how the Church had harmed the indigenous peoples of North and South America and asked for forgiveness during the  period known as the "colonial expansion."  And it is right well that he should; thousands died on both continents from a variety of reasons.  And then in the United States we have this thing known as "the Doctrine of  Discovery," circa 1823, which made the indigenous populations lower than second class citizens (another chapter of abuse).  

Francis, for whatever his reasons, pushed through Junipero's canonization by deleting a couple of steps.  Like the two verified miracle requirements (there was one, in 2013.  Supposedly a woman was healed after praying over a relic believed to be one of Junipero's.  Here, this writer must ask - how do you verify something like this?  In our age of science?  Did not hocus-pocus go out with the bath water after science became prominent? Oh yeah, faith right?)  Also, he by-passed the Vatican committee that supposedly makes the final approval (Four months after Francis declared that he would canonize Junipero Serra this group did approve Serra.  Because the Pope gets what he wants when he wants it).

There are some historians who state that Junipero Serra was an oppressor of the indigenous peoples of California: he forcibly made these folks give up their age old culture and heritage, while shoving conversion to Christianity down their throats.  And, he had no problem imprisoning, whipping, torturing, and working these people to death, all in the name of his religion and god.  Serra, like some many other churchmen, believed that indigenous peoples were like ignorant children who needed to be brought to Christ and "civilized," no matter what the cost.  Now many Native Americans, especially those in California, consider Junipero Serra a genocidal maniac and should not have been made a Saint; this writer agrees with them.  So why did it happen?

In my opinion, Hispanic Catholics within the USA make up a large segment of the population and many of them vote.  Is Francis trying to influence the vote here in the USA? Serra did hail from Spain. Only Pope Francis knows why he elevated Junipero Serra to his Catholic Church's Hall of Fame.  But a genocidal maniac does not fit into the definition given above.

                                               Copyright @2015 Terry Unger  

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