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Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Sacred and Praiseworthy Purpose - email missive from Toypurina Carac

Dear Family, Friends and Supporters,

The intent of this petition is to persuade Pope Francis to immediately abandon the canonization of Serra and rescind the Doctrine of Discovery.

We don't want an apology or "mass of reconciliation."  Rather,  we want acknowledgement of the truth of what Serra did to our ancestors and justice for our ancestors.

The canonization of the Inquisitor Serra celebrates the slavery he initiated, rape he condoned and ultimate genocide of our ancestors.

We do not ask for an alternate saint. It has been said that justice has no time limit. Now is the time for justice to be delivered to our ancestors.

The celebration of Serra and  Native genocide is in direct conflict with the Pope's rhetoric.

We want accountability for the actions of Serra and his agents; not an excuse or interpretation of his exploitation and dominations masked as "evangelism."

The excerpt from the article below was published week in Indian Country Today, by our good friend, Steven Newcomb, author of Pagans in the Promised Land. 

 If you wish to use his words in anyway, please cite Steven Newcomb as the source of the quotes.

"This September, Pope Francis is coming to Great Turtle Island (“North America”). Francis is the successor of Pope Alexander VI, who issued a number of papal edicts in 1493, documents that provide a historical context for Pope Francis’ visit to the territory of the Piskataway Nation (Washington, D.C.), and then to the territory of the Lenape Nation (New York City and Philadelphia).

Pope Francis is expected to finalize sainthood for the eighteenth century Franciscan Missionary Junipero Serra, whom Pope Francis has called “the Evangelizer of the West.”

When he finalizes canonization for Serra, Pope Francis will thereby give a gloss of sanctity to what his predecessor, Pope Alexander VI, called in his edicts “the propagation of the Christian empire,” and “a sacred and praiseworthy purpose in the Lord,” which was to subjugatesubject and reduce non-Christian lands and islands, and their inhabitants to the Catholic faith.

A couple of sentences in the book The Documents of Vatican II, published in 1966 (New York: Guild Press), provide some possible insight into how the Holy See is likely to view Pope Alexander VI’s call for Catholic and Christian empire and domination. 

In The Documents of Vatican II we find the statement, “Christ and the Church…transcend every particularity of race or nation.” They, therefore, “cannot be considered foreign anywhere or to anybody” (p. 594).

This is an elaboration of something Pope John XXIII stated in his “Mater et Magistra”: “By divine right the Church belongs to all nations. . .since she has, as it were, transfused her en[e]rgy [sic] into the veins of a people, she neither is nor considers herself an institution imposed on that people from without” (pp. 594-95).

According to the above line of thought, the Catholic Church would prefer that we not interpret Alexander VI’s desire for the Christian Empire (“imperii Christiani” ) to be “propagated,” by subjugating non- Christian nations, to be a foreign imposition of the Catholic faith and Christian religion on other nations. 

Why? Simple.

The Church sees itself as having successfully “transfused her energy into the veins” of those nations and peoples. 

When we read papal decrees which call for foreign non-Christian nations to be “subdued” and “reduced” as a way of “leading” them to what Alexander VI calls “a profession of the Catholic faith,” none of this, according to Vatican II, and according to the above sentence from Mater et Magistra, should be construed as an example of the Catholic Church being imposed “from without” on non-Christian nations and peoples.

In the papal decree Inter Caetera, dated May 3, 1493, Pope Alexander VI engages in an act of what he calls “apostolic power”:

He concedes to Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand “the means whereby you may be enabled to prosecute a purpose so sacred and praiseworthy.. .(emphasis added). What is that “sacred and praiseworthy” purpose?

The monarchs, says pope Alexander, “have purposed [proposed] to subdue [conquer and dominate],”  “and reduce to the Catholic faith,”  “the foresaid lands and islands” along with “their natives and inhabitants,” which Columbus had located, as well as those lands yet to be located in the future. Later, the pope earnestly praises (“commends”) “this…your sacred and praiseworthy purpose in the Lord.”

Pope Alexander VI continues with a concession to Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand:  “And in order that you may undertake the assignment of so great a task, generously endowed with the Apostolic favor. . . we. . .give, concede, and assign the aforesaid lands and islands in general”. . . which are not [but should be] established under the actual temporal sovereignty [“dominio,” domination] of any Christian Sovereigns [“dominorum Christianorum,” Christian dominators ].” 

The pope says that it is “by the authority of the omnipotent God granted to us in Saint Peter and the victoriate of Jesus Christ which we are exercising on earth. . .” that he is making his concession to the monarchs to subdue, subject, and reduce the Indians to the Catholic faith.

How do Pope Alexander VI’s concessions to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand apply to Pope Francis’ decision to canonize or bestow sainthood on Junipero Serra? 

Given Pope Alexander VI’s desire that non-Christian nations be subdued and reduced to the Catholic faith, it makes sense from the viewpoint of the Catholic Church that Friar Serra is deemed to deserve sainthood. Why?

Because Serra diligently carried forth into Alta California “sacred and praiseworthy” efforts to subdue and reduce the Indian nations of California by means of what Serra called “these spiritual conquests,” i.e., evangelisms. 

The death and destruction inflicted on the original nations of California and elsewhere throughout the hemisphere is merely a form of collateral damage that occurred in the process of propagating Christian empire.

In June, 1771 letter, Serra expressed “hope” that “we will see, before long, new and immense territories gathered into the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church, and subjected to the Crown of Spain.” (emphasis added) (Writings of Junipero SerraI, ed., Antonine Tibesar, O. F. M., Vol. I, Washington, D.C.: Academy of American Franciscan History, p. 209). 

In Serra’s original Spanish version of the letter, we find the word “dominios” (plural), which is also found in the papal bull Inter Caetera of May 3, 1493. Some two hundred and seventy eight years prior to Serra’s letter, Pope Alexander VI used the term “dominio” when he referred to lands “sub actuali dominio temporali aliquorum dominorum Christianorum constitute non sint” (lands that are “not yet but should be established under the actual temporal domination of a Christian dominator”). 

Such an “establishment of actual temporal “dominio” was to be achieved by the lands and Native peoples being “subjected” or undergoing a process of “subjection” and domination.

Legal philosopher Steven Winter points out that context and purpose are innate features of categories, and must therefore be taken into account when it comes to their interpretation. 

This is true whether we are interpreting symbols or written texts in the form of legal decisions, papal decrees, or the life and letters of a Franciscan Friar. The viewpoint of the one doing the interpreting is an additional factor. 

The office of the Holy See, now occupied by Pope Francis, is interpreting the “meaning” of Serra’s life in keeping with a “sacred” context and purpose of “evangelism” and “new evangelism.”

The Holy See is in denial. 

It is not interpreting Serra’s life in association with Pope Alexander VI’s expressed desire “to subjugate barbarous nations,” and to spread the Christian empire by the expansion of Spanish Catholic domination. 

The Holy See is carefully avoiding its own “sacred and praiseworthy” purpose of dominio and “dominorum Christianorum,” by means of the subjection of the original nations of the continent. 

It does not want to acknowledge that the consequence of the edicts of the Holy See of the fifteenth century was death, destruction, and dehumanization for original nations and peoples of Baja and Alta California, and elsewhere throughout the western hemisphere. 

By holding fast to such denial, the Holy See will no doubt continue to associate sanctity and sainthood with the mission system of domination (“dominio”) advanced by Junipero Serra."

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum, 2008). 

He is a Producer of the documentary movie,The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code, directed and produced by Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota), with narration by Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree).

Several important articles were published this past week. The Church keeps ignoring the Inquisition and Doctrine of Discovery and presenting a fairy tale interpretation of what really happened to our ancestors. 

We continue to tell the truth.  This isn't over yet. 

We are very close to 9,000 signatures on the petition; need at least 10,000 names. 

Thank you for your support. 

In Solidarity,



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