The Catholic conversion of Native Americans

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue is severely upset by a New York Times piece about Junípero Serra, canonized in 2015 by Pope Francis.


[ … ]

A week later the New York Times maligned St. Serra in a front-page story by Laura M. Holson, “Sainthood of Serra Reopens Wounds in Colonialism in California.” She said that “Historians agree that he [Serra] forced Native Americans to abandon their tribal culture and convert to Christianity, and that he had them whipped and imprisoned and sometimes worked or tortured to death.”

This was a bald-face lie.

Et cetera, et cetera.

So I did what any idle Web surfer would do: I went to Wikipedia and found this:

Serra wrote a letter in August 1778 to Fernando Rivera y Moncada explicitly instructing the colonial commander to whip and shackle Indigenous men who escaped from Mission San Carlos.

I am sending them to you so that a period of exile and two or three whippings … If Your Lordship does not have shackles, with your permission they may be sent from here.

Deborah A. Miranda, a professor of American literature at Washington and Lee University and an enrolled member of the Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Nation, 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”.

Donohue’s Internet service doesn’t make Wikipedia available? Or is it just good for fundraising to cultivate a sense of grievance?

There certainly doesn’t appear to be any doubt that historians agree that Serra favored flogging unbelievers.

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