The Academy of American Franciscan History has released a new video documentary on Junipero Serra, Introducing Junipero Serra: The Newest Saint.
One of the important points that comes across in this documentary is the fact that Father Serra saw missions — where previously nomadic groups lived in settled communities — not as a way to exploit indigenous labor, but as one of the best ways to protect indigenous peoples against colonial exploitation. Serra’s idea grew out of his previous experience in the Sierra Gorda region of south central Mexico (or New Spain as it was called at the time) and he vowed to apply it in Alta California.
Note: this is an updated version of an earlier post written at the time of Serra’s canonization.
Catholics and non-Catholics alike seem to be interested in whether Junipero Serra should be declared a saint. In the previous post I gave an outline of the long process that Junipero Serra — or any other would-be saint — must undergo in order to be officially recognized by the Catholic Church. Given the controversy surrounding Serra’s case, some have asked why bother declaring him a saint? Can’t everyone agree to disagree without raising him up as an example to a billion Catholics? Was it an ill-considered or rush decision by successor of the fisherman?