Canonisation of American saint is a ‘prophetic response’

Blessed Junipero Serra was a “working-class missionary” who deserves to be made a saint and to have his record as a defender of native peoples made known, according to Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles.

Acknowledging that Pope Francis’ plan to canonise the 18th-century Franciscan in September “has opened old wounds and revived bitter memories about the treatment of Native Americans during the colonial and missionary period of America's history”, the archbishop said the missionary’s legacy had been “distorted” by “anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic propaganda”.

While some scholars and activists seem to have turned Fr Serra into “a symbol for everything they believe was wrong with the mission era”, he said it was clear that as the first pope from the New World, Pope Francis “understands the Christian roots of the Americas and the continent's importance for the church's mission in the 21st century”.

The first ever canonisation of an American saint on American soil would be, he said, “a prophetic response to the sign of the times”.