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The Charges Against Father Junipero Serra

September 11, 1988

Before Father Junipero Serra is made a saint, the Vatican really should investigate the charges made against him by descendants of the native Indians who were wards of the missions founded by Father Serra.

Absolute atrocities are attributed to the missions under Father Serra. Widespread forced castration of young males (no anesthesia, mind you), whippings and other physical abuse, the establishment of a bounty for the body of an Indian, deliberate spread of disease through contaminated blankets and the subsequent withholding of medications, are among the charges made by Indians who have passed this information down through their oral tradition.

The order apparently came down from the church to get rid of the Indian males for the benefit of the Spanish immigrants of the time (1770s), who came to seek a new life in the new world and who were without women of their own.

A deliberate attempt to exterminate the Indians and their culture seemed to be the policy of the missions under Father Serra, and the truth of the matter should be investigated more thoroughly. After all, the missions were not 100% successful. Descendants of the Acagchemem Indian Nation from the San Juan Capistrano Mission live today to tell their story, as well as other California Indians who relate their own horror stories.

If more thorough investigation reveals that Father Serra encouraged or condoned abuse of the California Indians through his mission system, then I hardly think that this man deserves to be made a saint.

JAN D. VANDERSLOOT

Huntington Beach

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