The pope went ahead and “canonized” Junipero Serra, Reuters reports.
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The pope later said Mass in Spanish to about 25,000 gathered inside and outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and canonized 18th-century Spanish missionary Friar Junipero Serra. The canonization was controversial because critics say that Serra beat and imprisoned Native Americans, suppressed their cultures and facilitated the spread of diseases that heavily reduced the population.
During the first canonization on U.S. soil, Francis in a homily hailed Serra as a man who “sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it.” Some Native American activists condemned making Serra a saint, with one, Corrina