September 23 canonization set for Blessed Junipero Serra; Vatican rejects complaints of racism
April 20, 2015
Pope Francis will preside at the canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra on September 23 in Washington, DC, the Vatican has announced.
The Pope had disclosed in January that he hoped to canonize the great Franciscan missionary during his September visit to the US. On April 20, the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, revealed the date for the ceremony, which will be held outdoors on the grounds of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
At a press conference in Rome announcing plans for the event, the secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Guzman Carriquiry, said that the canonization of Bl. Serra should promote greater recognition of Hispanic contribution to US culture, correcting an “Anglo-centric” reading of American history.
Carriquiry suggested that the honor for Bl. Serra could “break down walls of separation between what is Anglo and what is Hispanic, between the Protestant and Catholic traditions, between the United States and Latin America.” The result could give new confidence to Hispanic Americas, he suggested. “They can rightly affirm, ‘We are Americans,’ without having to abandon their best cultural and religious traditions.”
Responding to complaints of activists who have claimed that Father Serra showed a racist attitude toward Native Americans—and in particular to the vote by the California state senate calling for the removal of a statue of Father Serra from the US Capitol—Carriquiry said that this attitude would “bury in oblivion an ideal: the extraordinary Hispanic Catholic contribution a missionary made not only to the history of California but also of the United States.”
A spokesman for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Father Vincenzo Criscuolo, said that the complaints against Bl. Serra “are completely contradicted by the documentation.” He said that a 1,200 page report on Father Serra, presented in support of the cause for his canonization, showed him to be an “intrepid defender of the rights of native people.”
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- Canonisation of Blessed Junipero Serra highlights Hispanic contribution to US, says Vatican official (CNS)
- Vatican goes on offensive to defend US-Spanish saint (AP)
- Canonization this year for Bl. Junipero Serra (CWN, 1/15)
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