On September 23rd, 2015, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the afternoon on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the University Mall at The Catholic University of America. During Mass, Pope Francis will be canonizing Junipero Serra, a Franciscan Friar known for starting nine Spanish missions in California in the 1700s.
The name Junípero Serra is well known in California: Schools and streets are named in his honor, and statues of the 18th century Spanish missionary still stand. But Native American activists are far less enamored with the friar, saying Serra was actually an accomplice in the brutal colonization of natives.
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With more than 10.000 signers , the petition was sent yesterday to Pope Francis. Within the last months , the California Missions – Natives or rather their descendants received great help from other Natives, from many writers, historians, academicians and other people for that campaign.
Just today and within the next days, there are activities against the canonization of Junipero Serra.
Part of that campaign is the „Walk for the ancestors“ .
The Walk for the Ancestors, led by Tataviam descendants Caroline Ward Holland and Kagen Holland, began September 7th at Mission Solano in Sonoma, CA and is set to conclude sometime in late October at Mission San Diego. At each Mission, the walkers will join with representatives of local tribes and all those who come to stand with them. Words, stories and prayers will be shared, and a moment of silence will be observed at the mass grave sites of the ancestors. The walk will then continue southward, and anyone present at the gathering will be welcomed to participate.
Despite the protest of many Native American groups, the Pope has canonized Junipero Serra this week.
Quite clearly, the canonization of Junipero Serra is a slap in the face for the originally California Missions Natives as well their descendants .
“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,” ( Pope Francis, Juli 2015 )
"We will never accept Junipero Serra's canonization, we will continue the fight to have the canonization rescinded. One day, the Catholic Church will realize it made a mistake." ( Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band)