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Today’s Canonization of Junipero Serra: Pope Francis’s Controversial Act

The Pope’s visit to the United States will include Wednesday’s plan to perform the first canonization on U.S. soil; the act will make controversial Spanish Franciscan priest Junipero Serra a saint.

On June 25 the California Senate voted 22-10 to banish a statue of the Spanish Franciscan priest Serra that has stood in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall since 1931. Accusations have been lodged against Serra regarding treatment of Native Americans during his oversight of the missions.

One-time Jesuit Seminarian, California Governor Jerry Brown, vowed to block the bill shortly after it passed. “We’re going to keep his statue in Congress. It’s done as far as I’m concerned.” Commenting also on the canonization of “California’s first saint,” Brown said, “The Pope is right in recognizing his sanctity.”

Pope Francis opened his first trip to the U.S. this week with aggressive comments on climate change.

Brown participated in an environmental summit hosted by the Pope earlier this year at the Vatican. There Brown carried support for the Pontiff’s draft “Encyclical on Climate Change.”

Breitbart News’s Austin Ruse noted the words of the University of California’s Dr. Steven Hackel, who commented that the Spanish colonization made it “a very difficult time for California Indians.” However, Hackel said the missions provided “a place for them to rebuild their communities.”

Serra is credited with founding nine of California’s 21 missions.

Ruse reported that the push to canonize Serra gained traction in 1988 when St. John Paul II beatified the priest. Cambridge Dictionaries Online describes beatification as, “to announce formally in the Roman Catholic church that someone who is dead has lived a holy life, usually as a first stage in making that person a saint.”

Serra will be the first Hispanic saint, according to CBS Sacramento.

According to Ruse, Serra rather advocated for “Indian” rights and was revered by many at the time of his death as “Padre Santo.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana

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