Junipero Serra Finally Declared a Saint by Pope Francis

Statue of Serra
Statue of Serra

We've been big fans of Pope Francis ever since the Argentine became the latest vicar of Christ a couple of years ago. Oh, how he has antagonized conservatives so, what with his constant comments on how gays are human, how capitalism is warped, how global warming is a thing, and so on. Right on, Papa Pancho!

But then again, Francis IS the pope of the Catholic Church, one of the evilest hierarchies in human history, and hence capable of major fuck-ups. And that's what happened this morning, when he declared he was making Junípero Serra a saint. Since the pope is an Argie, we gotta switch to his Spanish to declare "¡Oye, che boludo hijo de la gran puta!"

Francis said this while visiting Manila, further adding that he's going to conduct the canonization while visiting the United States this year. ""He was the evangelizer of the west in the United States," he told onlookers.

He was also the enslaver of thousands of California's Indians, though.

The sins of Serra are many and best captured in this 2000 Weekly cover story by Bob Emmers (hey, Bob: Big fan of yours. Where are you?). Here's the money shot:

All Native Americans in the area surrounding a mission were urged to come to it and be converted to Christianity. Once converted, the Native Americans were bound to the mission--told where to live and work, and what to eat and wear. If an Native American misbehaved, he was whipped. If he ran away, he was hunted down and brought back and whipped. All surrounding land was held in trust by the mission. After 10 years, when the natives were at last "civilized," the land would in theory be returned to them; but that was a rare outcome. The Native Americans labored exclusively for the mission, grew its food and tended its livestock. At sunrise, they assembled for Mass and then ate a breakfast of porridge. They spent the morning laboring in the fields under the direction of padres, at noon were fed a bowl of pozole, then returned to the fields until evening. In the evenings, they went to church again.

The mission system turned the natives' world upside-down. The Spanish introduced sheep, horses, cattle and hogs, all of which ate the very same foods the Native Americans had lived on for centuries, destroyed the gardens and disrupted the game ranges. White settlers were lured by grants of land, livestock, implements and seed. Forests were cleared for firewood and construction materials. Plows turned the land, exhausting it and leaving it open to erosion. Thus the Native Americans became dependent on farming and were even more tightly bound to the missions.

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Locally, I would say that Serra's biggest sin was destroying Juaneño and Gabrieleño culture so much that they're not even federally recognized as tribes, so few are their numbers.

Francis skipped over the usually mandatory second miracle attributed to a saint candidate to canonize Serra--and doesn't it tell you something, Papa Pancho, that there hasn't been a second miracle tied to that cretin? Heckuva job, Brownie!

Email: Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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