A Cross of Thorns Author at the

San Francisco Commonwealth Club
Listen to an audio of Elias Castillo's February, 2015 discussion of his book held at this renowned institution. 

          By Gary Kamiya,  San Francisco Magazine, August 24, 2015

       By Steve Newcomb 

       Indian Country Today, April 28,2015 

    How has the Vatican responded to protests and sharp criticism from Indian people in California regarding Pope Francis’s announcement to declare Serra a saint? To accompany its acknowledgement of Serra’s use of “corporeal punishment” on the Indians of California as an “educational tool” of evangelism, the Vatican has said that Serra was “a man of his time.”


  • Serra the Saint: Why Not?

    By Deborah A. Miranda
    Indian Country Today Media Network, Jan. 26, 2015 

    We are told that Junipero Serra is being canonized because he brought Christianity to California Indigenous Peoples. If that were all he had brought to us, perhaps I could find it in my heart to forgive Pope Francis’ decision. If Serra had brought us the choice of Christianity—with no punishment for choosing to remain faithful to our own religions—perhaps I could understand the Pope’s decision. But Serra did not just “bring” us Christianity; he imposed it, he forced it, he violated us with it, giving us no choice in the matter.

  • Serra a poor choice for sainthood amid attempts at reconciliation

    By Lisbeth Haas, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 22, 2015
    Pope Francis announced his intention last week to make Father Junipero Serra a Catholic saint shortly after his trip to Sri Lanka, where he had emphasized the importance of peace, justice and reconciliation. The choice of Serra for canonization is especially unfortunate, given that the Catholic Church has been making its first attempts at reconciliation with some of California’s indigenous people, who experienced devastating losses due to the colonial system Serra ushered in.

  • Church’s tone-deaf move to canonize Serra will drive people away
    Callie Millner, San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 24, 2015            On my walk home from work, I pass three storefront evangelical churches. They’re often the only institutions of well repute on those blocks, and their congregants have the pride of people who treasure respectability and order, because there’s so little of those things in their surroundings.

  • What California Indians Lost Under Serra, Soon to be a Saint
    Karin Klein, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 16, 2015
    Is there a word for the extinction of cultures. Not the people of those cultures, but the cultures themselves?

    I ask because one of the notable consequences of the California mission movement founded by and overseen by Father Junipero Serra was the loss of various Native American cultures, to the point where many Indian groups cannot now get tribal recognition.  It seems odd that Pope Francis, known for his cultural sensitivity and appreciation for diversity, has chosen to confer sainthood on Serra, who played such a big role in obliterating indigenous culture in coastal California.

Read Other Voices

In the Sainthood Debate 

I Am Astounded

Elias Castillo's comments on the proposal of sainthood for Juniper Serra Appeared in the San Jose Mercury News 

Pope Francis has announced that he will canonize Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra when he visits the United States in late summer. How does that reconcile with a papal decision made 15 years ago when Pope John Paul II apologized for 2,000 years of violence by the Roman Catholic Church against indigenous peoples, Jews, heretics, women and gypsies?  MORE . . .

The Sainthood Issue

The Debate Rages On

Elias Castillo