SPEAKING OUT Against the Canonization of Junipero Serra

As the Vatican prepared to canonize Junipero Serra, the Franciscan friar responsible for the brutal Catholic missionizing of the indigenous peoples of California and the West Coast of the Americas, thousands of people – including the Amah Mutsun tribe, whose people preserve personal oral histories of Serra’s abuse – wrote direct letters, signed a MoveOn petition to the Pope against the canonization, and staged direct actions.

Matthew Fox stood with indigenous rights activists and organizations in sending a resounding voice of outrage:

  • See Matthew’s open letter to Pope Francis here
  • His review of the devastating in-depth history of Serra’s actions and historical impact, A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions, by Elias Castillo, here
  • His powerful talk, Do Justice for the Sake of Doing Justice, delivered at the Amah Mutsun protest at San Juan Bautista.
  • His ongoing blog posts to spur awareness and discussion of the topic, here:
  • See his passionate video appeal for action against Junipero Serra’s canonization here:


The drastic disconnect between Serra’s historical record of racism and abuse, and his proposed canonization, gained significant media notice.  But despite the storm of dissent warning the Pope of the dissonance between this endorsement of brutal colonialism, there was no response from the Vatican and the canonization took place on September 23 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.