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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hello, Pope Francis

I will have to say right off that, despite the current Pope's progressive views, I do not trust him.  I have had a lifetime of dealing with the Catholic church (I attended Catholic schools all the way through my bachelor's degree). Some of that history is positive; some is negative.  The Church has such a long history of ignoring and sweeping controversies and outright crimes under the rug that I cannot blindly trust anyone elected to the Papacy, or any of its higher offices.

The Pope, though somewhat progressive in thought and deed, has refused to even address the ordination of women in the Church. This is an issue which has been going on for decades in the Church, probably long before I was born 56 years ago.  Francis refuses to address this issue, saying that it is moot, that because Christ was a man, priests must be male.

There is a group of Catholic women who have simply gone forth and ordained themselves.  I say "Bravo!" to this. They were, of course, duly excommunicated by the Church.  A small contingent of this group traveled to Washington DC today to protest the Church's stand on ordaining women.  They were again duly moved out of the way so Francis could go on and canonize Junipero Serra:

Serra is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.  I can't believe the unquestioning nature of many people  following this event.  "Well, it's so cool to see a real canonization," said someone in the news.  " No saint is perfect," says another. Yeah, it's cool, because you might as well sweep the atrocities of the California missions under the rug. 

I have lived in Santa Cruz for over thirty years. There is a strong presence of Ohlone and other Native American people here, who have sought to educate about the missions.  Never has Francis given them any time to discuss with him the horrors perpetrated on California's indigenous people (which Father Serra duly recorded in a diary, dispassionately, as if penning his grocery list).  I began to hear about these atrocities soon after Serra was beatified.  I will not go into what I read, but the articles were sound and credible pieces of journalism, and they made me ill to the core.  In the eyes of the Church, Serra "converted" people (in reality, mostly by brute force, and when the native people tried to leave the missions, they were beaten and tortured).  This is the reality of Father Serra and the founding of the missions: and today he is elevated to sainthood...because he "preserved the dignity" of native Californians.  It's hard to preserve the dignity of people you've tortured, killed, and enslaved, isn't it...or did a memo come out that I didn't get?

Francis has a long, long way to go before he earns a shred of trust from me.  I trust no head of the Catholic Church, sorry to say, and I am not participating in the Francis love fest. I appreciate his attempts to be progressive, but this doesn't let him off the hook in my eyes. I hope nothing awful about him comes to light--that is something which really would devastate me--but today's canonization (without having a dialogue with Native Americans until AFTER the canonization was completed) really doesn't earn him many points in my book...sorry to say.

Here is an article about Serra and others who founded and ran the missions of California: