“On all the 21 missions along the coast here our people were enslaved, they were beaten, they were tortured, our women were raped. It was forced labor and a forced religion. There’s nothing saintly about the… atrocities on our culture, on our people.”
- Anthony Morales, Chief Redblood of the Gabrielino Tongva Band of Mission Indians
Well, Pope Francis can't say I didn't try to warn him about his harebrained decision to canonize Junipero Serra a Roman Catholic saint. I wrote about it here, on Daily Kos, in February. More importantly, every tribe and band of American Indians in the mission area of California, and for that matter, the rest of the state, sent letters to Rome asking the Pope not to canonize this vampire. And other Indian nations, tribes and bands throughout the country also sent correspondences.
Simply to say that a throng of people are up in arms about this stupid canonization on Sept. 23 of a true monster is an understatement. Recent events, including vandalism and desecration of statues and tombs, have taken place at some California mission sites since Serra was made a saint.
Police in Monterey, Calif., are searching for vandals who decapitated a statue of Serra at the Monterey Presidio. On Thursday, Oct. 15, vandals cut the head off the so-called "holy man's" granite sculpture. It's perched, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and has been a fixture inside the Monterey Presidio since 1891. This was the second desecration. The first occurred in September right after Serra got his promotion, when someone poured black paint on another statue of Serra.
It doesn't end here. A statue of Father Serra was desecrated on Sept. 27. It was toppled over and splattered with paint in the Carmel Mission courtyard, according to a post on the church’s Facebook page. The Washington Post reported that vandals scrawled “Saint of Genocide” on a headstone in the park. Serra is buried in the Carmel Mission courtyard and according to The Washington Post, vandals covered the statue of Serra with green paint and threw red paint all over nearby headstones in the cemetery in the courtyard. This rampant vandalism took place four days after Pope Francis made Serra a saint.
The incident at the Carmel Mission courtyard is being investigated as a hate crime because the vandals targeted “specifically the headstones of people of European descent, and not Native American descent,” Carmel police Sgt. Luke Powell told the Los Angeles Times. Sadly, those who committed the vandalism may spend a long time in jail because of their protestation. A hate crime? Come on, how can you charge somebody with a hate crime who threw paint on rocks?!
And on Monday (Nov. 2), vandals splashed red paint across the front door of the Mission Santa Cruz. The mission wasn’t founded by Serra but by his successor, Father Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, but Mission Santa Cruz is one of 21 Spanish Franciscan missions stretching from Sonoma to San Diego that were part of the hegemony, apartheid and colonialism that European invaders forced upon Native people.
Students touring the historical mission in Santa Cruz discovered the vandalism Monday, KSBW-TV reported. Calls to the Diocese of Monterey and Santa Cruz police were not returned.
In response to Serra's canonization, the Satanic Temple "demonized" Junipero Serra in a ceremony held in San Gabriel recently. The met around 2 p.m. at Plaza Park the afternoon of Oct. 13, just across the street from San Gabriel City Hall and then continued to Mission San Gabriel Archangel to perform their dark 'satanic' ritual at 3 p.m., according to laist online magazine.
According to the laist article: The Satanic Temple was founded by Lucien Greaves, with its largest and most active chapter in Detroit. Unlike other versions of Satanism, the Satanic Temple practices non-theistic Satanism. This means they do not actually believe that Satan exists, but use his character as the foundation for their ideology, which values logic and autonomy. The Satanic Temple's mission is "to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will."
Father Serra (November 24, 1713 – August 28, 1784) was a Roman Catholic Spanish Franciscan friar. He spearheaded the founding of 21 missions in and around Baja, Calif., and these missions were designed and implemented to bring the Catholic faith to the native peoples; but to many American Indians and Hispanic people who live in California, they see these missions as nothing less than prisons, even concentration camps, in which their ancestors were forced to live and to work in a hostile, labor-intensive, hegemonic atmosphere. Friar Serra used conquistadors armed with spears, swords, and whips to maintain order in these missions. It was hardly a "saintly" sort of way to manage things. As head of the Roman Catholic religious order in California, Serra not only dealt with church officials, but also with Spanish officials in Mexico City and with the local military officers who commanded the nearby presidio garrison. Serra can be seen more as a politician, perhaps even a military head, than a holy man. Beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988, and canonized by Pope Francis on September 23, 2015, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., during Pope Francis's first U.S. visit, the extremely popular new pope fell into harsh disfavor with American Indians and Hispanics. The vandalism of the Monterey religious sites is just a symptom of an unpopular and hated decision by the Holy See.
Monday morning (Nov. 2), this writer left messages with tribal officials at the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, the Santa Ysabel Tribal Office, the Pala Band of Mission Indians, the Viejas Tribal Office, the Los Coyotes Band of Indians, the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, and the Jamul Indian Village of California (part of the Kumeyaay Nation of Southern California). However, at the time that I posted this story later in the work, nobody returned a call. All of these tribes and bands are in, or near, the missions that were created to colonize their ancestors.
However, Anthony Morales, Chief Redblood of the Gabrielino Tongva Band of Mission Indians, said in Last Real Indians, “On all the 21 missions along the coast here our people were enslaved, they were beaten, they were tortured, our women were raped. It was forced labor and a forced religion. There’s nothing saintly about the… atrocities on our culture, on our people.”
"I'm outraged," said Olin Tezcatlipoca, director of the Mexica Movement, an organization that educates the public about indigenous rights, in a Huffington Post Religion article posted in Februrary. "This is sad because supposedly this pope is more enlightened and more progressive. This came as really shocking."
A member of the La Posta Band of Mission Indians, who didn't want to divulge his name, said to this writer on the telephone Nov. 2: "We don't agree with it (Serra's canonization). Like any other tribe in Southern California, we're very much against it, for what they did to the Native Americans. That's all I'll say on the record about that."
"We sent our letters to the Pope telling him that we didn't agree with the canonization of this man, like many of the southern California tribes did. But Pope Francis canonized him anyhow," this anonymous source added.
Two Lakota leaders who head-up groups that fight for the rights of all American Indians, however, had quite a bit to say about Junipero Serra's canonization.
James Magaska Swan, a Lakota Indian and founder of the United Urban Warrior Society, told this writer in a Oct. 31 that, "I disagree with this canonization. In the modern world we live in, here was a guy who committed atrocities against American Indians."
Swan said that he could not believe the Roman Catholic Church would canonize someone as brutal and diabolical as a man who was responsible for all the horrible acts that he committed against Native people.
"Many of our people see Catholicism as a cult type of religion. I studied religion at the university level for over four years and at least I see it as being such," Swan told this writer. "With the boarding schools and all the horrible things that Serra did to us, we see this canonization as a real slap in the face. It shouldn't have ever taken place."
Even as controversial and big as the Serra canonization has been, Swan said as far as his United Urban Warrior Society's work is concerned, it has taken a back seat to other more salient issues that concern the Oglala Lakota Sioux people of South Dakota, where Swan lives.
"We try to support other Indians and their concerns, but we have local issues that have to take precedence and we can't work on many things all at the same time. That's not a good way to handle things. We must stay focused. Right now, our United Urban Warrior Society is working on feeding the homeless on our reservations. We do this every year. We collect new clothing, too. There are a lot of other big projects we do," he said.
Swan said although the United Urban Warrior Society supports other groups, "We're battling big crises on several fronts now - some treaty issues here and we're working on an intensive plan with slumlords so our people have adequate housing at a reasonable cost. I can't just spend all my time on one issue. There are a number of things I'm focused on currently. Our philosophy is that we're more into finding ways for people to help themselves and we're not limited to just fund raising efforts - our mentality is that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life."
"Right now, I'm working on a project to get some of these restaurants that just throw food out at the end of the day to donate it to our cause, so we can use this excess food to feed some of the homeless in our communities. Many of these restaurants don't want to do this because of liability issues, though. But there is a disclaimer in order that we're working on getting passed through the South Dakota legislature so that restaurants that donate food to us aren't held liable if someone eating this left-over food may get sick or something."
The United Urban Warrior Society has 33 chapters nationwide. "We've sponsored homeless feeds; every year we have a Thanksgiving-On-The-Street event when we feed the homeless, in fact; and we're involved with some groups that are against violence towards women, including helping them with fundraising and donations; and we help our children in various ways - like holding little festivities around Christmastime and giving kids presents," Swan said about The United Urban Warrior Society. The Urban Warrior Society also takes an aggressive posture against Big Oil & Gas and mining companies that try to set up operations on treaty lands.
Canupa Gluha Mani, leader of the Strongheart Warrior Society and also a Lakota Indian from South Dakota, told this writer in an Oct. 31 telephone interview: "I don't agree with the man (Junipero Serra) and what he did."
Mani said he views Junipera Serra as even a worse historical figure in menace and blood lust than Vlad the Impaler, the original Dracula. He said at least to many Romanians, Vlad the Impaler was a leader who kept invaders out of Romania, and many Romanians today even see him as a hero and a vanguard for their country's nationalism. But Serra was an invader who took the land, culture and religion away from indigenous people for the interests of the European elite.
"You want to make Serra a saint? Come on, it's inhumane," Mani muttered in disgust.
"People have to realize that all this genocide goes back much further. Pope Nicholas V - back in 1455 - we indigenous people know everything about this guy. Pope Nicholas V hated people who did not fall into the European culture." Mani said.
"European people did not have any religion - think of it. Here, anyhow. Over there, they did, but not here. They had to bring it here. There's a difference between adapting to something and being forced. Indians were forced into this culture and religion."
"For (American Indians) in the Midwest, we are the only ones who stood up against this colonization. We fought this battle and we're still fighting the war," he said.
"The King and Queen of Spain ordered Christopher Columbus to wipe our people out by invading areas that are populated by indigenous people. Back in 1450, before Columbus even arrived here, Pope Nicholas V wanted to wipe out aboriginal people. That was his big goal."
"All these people kept fighting and trying to make indigenous people extinct for the land and the resources here. For my people, well, we should not have to yield to the white man for sanctuary in our own country. If we are going to have to have some kind of compromise and a healthy society, we're going to have to work together for better solutions," Mani said, adding that in a country that has been run by white men since the beginning, a good place to start with a solution-based, better society is for the government to start respecting and adhering to treaty laws.
"God these people are evil! Why aren't world leaders blaming the white race? We have a right to our land. We have a right to maintain our land. But what do white people do? They always make the Indians the bad guys. Nobody wants to hurt anyone's feelings these days with all this political correctness. Do you think our feelings haven't been hurt? Our feelings have been hurt to hell! Everyone's too minute with the questions. If we are going to get to the root of this nightmare, we're going to have to blame the white race for being the biggest bootlegger, the biggest drug dealer, and the biggest pharmaceutical dealer," Mani said.
Canupa Gluha Mani's grandfather, Roy Martin, was the last to hold the leadership position that Mani now holds with the Strongheart Warrior Society, Mani said, adding that he was raised by his grandfather and Roy Martin groomed him since he was young to someday take over as leader of the Strongheart Warrior Society. Mani is very much an American Indian activist, and is committed and dedicated to not only the rights of the Lakota, but to all Indian tribes and indigenous people. Strongheart Warrior Society members are an extremely active group and travel throughout the United States to fight for the rights of Indians. The Strongheart Warrior Society takes an aggressive stance with those who interfere with Indian culture, treaty law, and sovereignty, Mani said.
The 'really cool' pope, who is enjoying a lot of popularity due to his liberal views on politics and his strong will to stand for the protection of the climate; his harsh criticism against ultra-conservative world leaders - including Republicans in the U.S.A. - and powerful corporate elites, lost favor with American Indians and those who oppose Serra's diabolical reign of terror in Southern Californa.
As a Roman Catholic myself, who goes to mass every Sunday just about, I wonder how Saint Junipero Serra will fit in with the Roman Catholic Church's major saints, like the 11 best friends of Jesus Christ; His mother and father, Mary and Joseph; His cousin, St. John the Baptist; His apostle, Mary Magdalene; or St. Francis of Assisi; St. Bernadette; St. Joan of Arc; St. Patrick; or the host of the truly holy, pious, and religious giants that every practicing Catholic tries to emulate in daily life. And this saint's "demonizing" by committed Satanists infuriates me, knowing that including him in the Roman Catholic Canon of Saintly men and women is a poisoning of their lives, their deeds, and their good works. Although it may be sinful and may upset some Roman Catholic clergymen, I really can't help wondering if St. Junipero Serra is an inhabitant of hell.
One of the major things the Holy See looks for when canonizing a saint are a few miracles performed by the individual, and in Serra's case, it's a nebulous thing indeed. Did Junipero Serra even perform one miracle in his lifetime? His sole miracle: a woman who prayed to Junipero Serra was cured of Lupus, according to the victim of this disease. What?! I once dated a woman who told me she was cured of Lupus by going on a health food kick - yes, she said drinking a lot of high-protein drinks and wolfing down a plethora of vitamins and minerals got rid of this nasty bug. To say that I'm quizzical about this "miracle" is an understatement.
The iffy nature of miracles in Serra's canonization is best summed up in this excerpt from an Aug. 28, 2009, article in the Los Angeles Times:
In a basement at Old Mission Santa Barbara, a filing cabinet is thick with claims of miracles that didn't make the grade.
A man falls off his horse and, thanks to Junipero Serra, he gets up unscathed. A woman visits Serra's tomb in Carmel and something stirs her deeply, changing the course of her life. An alcoholic gives up drinking and credits Serra for seeing him through.
They all believed their experiences to be miraculous -- but none was deemed the miracle needed to lift Serra into sainthood, a goal church officials announced 75 years ago today, the 225th anniversary of his death.
Serra, the revered and reviled Franciscan priest who founded California's missions, has one officially recognized miracle to his name. A nun in St. Louis was healed of lupus after praying to him, leading to Serra's beatification in 1987.
But sainthood requires a second miracle, defined by the church as an event that cannot be explained by science but can be attributed to the candidate's intercession from beyond the grave.
Two years ago, Serra advocates thought they had found one. A Denver woman who had prayed to Serra delivered a healthy baby, despite a dire prognosis. The case went to Rome, but physicians for the Vatican concluded it was not a miracle.
Now there's another possibility. Sheila E. Lichacz, a Panamanian artist, has survived 14 brain surgeries for tumors called meningiomas, after being told time and again that she was dying. One-third of her skull was removed in surgery and replaced with acrylic plates. But they too were removed after causing life-threatening infections.
Now a large part of her brain is covered not by bone or plates, but only by flesh.
Yet at 66, she is exuberant and stylish. On a recent trip to Santa Barbara to confer with priests about her medical history, she wore a brilliant blue pantsuit with matching hat and turban, heavy silver chains and a black leather belt of her own design studded with 13 silver crucifixes. Her words tumble out in a cascade of religious fervor.
"Have you ever seen anything like this?" asks Lichacz, who still has four benign tumors in her head. "Have you? Brain surgery for 45 years? Blessed Junipero -- that poor man, he needs me. He gave it all, I'm telling you, and -- I'm not bragging -- I'm giving it all too."
The guy who said Serra's influence cured him of alcoholism leads me to wonder why Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, the founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous, were not canonized by Pope Francis on his visit. Through the Twelve Step programs they've created, millions have been cured of alcoholism. And off-shoot Twelve Step fellowships and programs have led millions more to recover from other addictions, such as narcotics, gambling, sexual addictions, shoplifting, compulsive spending and pathological lying. Yes, as far as those recovering from alcoholism and other addictions are concerned, it's evident that the influence of Smith, a doctor, and Wilson, a stockbroker, have led to millions of miracles! Not one or two - millions!
It's common knowledge among the Roman Catholic faithful that a saint performs miracles while he or she is alive. But a truly great saint's miracle working power goes beyond the grave. In the case of Wilson and Smith, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, a thick phone book of a major world city could be used to fill recovering alcoholics and those suffering from other addictions - and all these folks have been recovering after the deaths of A.A.'s founding members. Yes, if one views those who have put their addictions in remission as "living miracles," these two humble men, who met for the first time as hopeless, helpless, lost drunks in a hotel in Akron, Ohio, in the mid-1930's, and who both admitted they weren't saints, would be miracle-working superstars.
Believe it or not, Junipero Serra has his defenders. Although I don't really find much reason to empathize with this newly promoted "saint", out of fairness, I thought I'd include a few of those who side with Serra.
Although religious scholars argue that when historically evaluating Junipero Serra, it is necessary to place him in the 18th-century order of things. Salvatore J. Cordileone, the current archbishop of San Francisco, acknowledges Native American concerns about Serra's whippings and coercive treatment, but argues that missionaries were also teaching school and farming. Iris Engstrand, professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of San Diego, described Friar Serra as being "much nicer to the Indians, really, than even to the governors. He didn't get along too well with some of the military people, you know. His attitude was, 'Stay away from the Indians'. I think you really come up with a benevolent, hard-working person who was strict in a lot of his doctrinal leanings and things like that, but not a person who was enslaving Indians, or beating them, ever....He was a very caring person and forgiving. Even after the burning of the mission in San Diego, he did not want those Indians punished. He wanted to be sure that they were treated fairly..." Still, thousands of Native Americans in California maintain their Catholic faith, and some supported efforts to canonize Serra. James Nieblas, 68 – the first Native American priest to be ordained from the Juañeno Acjachemen Nation, a tribe evangelized by Serra, was chosen to meet with Pope Francis during his visit to Washington D.C. Nieblas, a longtime supporter of Serra's canonization, stated during a 1986 interview with the Los Angeles Times that "Father Serra brought our people to this day. I think Serra would be proud...canonization has the full support and backing of the Juaneno people." (Source: Wikipedia. See here)
The controversy goes on and on. Deborah A. Miranda, a professor of American literature at Washington and Lee University and Native American, stated that "Serra did not just bring us Christianity. He imposed it, giving us no choice in the matter. He did incalculable damage to a whole culture." (Source: Wikipedia.See here)
According to George Tinker, an Osage/Cherokee Indian and a professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, Serra utilized forced labor of converted Indians in order to support the missions. Overwhelming evidence suggests that "native peoples resisted the Spanish intrusion from the beginning". And although Tinker admits that Junipero Serra's intentions in evangelizing might have been honest and genuine in the Roman Catholic sense of things, the Native peoples of this region just wanted to be left alone to continue worshiping in their own spiritual culture and maintaining their families, homes and communities as they had been doing since the dawn of mankind. (Source: Wikipedia. See here)