Pope to canonize 18th-century missionary; critics angered

FILE - In this July 2, 2015, file photo, Capitol Hill visitors walk in front of a statue of missionary Junipero Serra, center, located in Statuary Hall, also known as the Old Hall of the House, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The first pope from the Americas is preparing to elevate to sainthood an 18th-Century missionary who brought Catholicism to California. Pope Francis will canonize Junipero Serra during a Mass on Sept. 23 outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The first pope from the Americas is ready to elevate to sainthood an 18th-century missionary who brought Catholicism to California.

Pope Francis plans to canonize Junipero Serra during a Mass on Wednesday outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. It’s the first time that a pope will elevate someone to sainthood on U.S. soil.

Photos: Pope Francis visits the U.S.
Photos: Pope Francis visits the U.S.

The pope announced in January that Serra would be canonized. The Franciscan friar from Spain is revered by Catholics for his missionary work. Francis fast-tracked Serra’s canonization by eliminating the need to show proof of two miracles.

Serra’s canonization is controversial, especially in California, where Native Americans say he wiped out indigenous populations, enslaved converts and spread disease.

Francis will celebrate the Mass in Spanish.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s