The upcoming canonization of Blessed Junípero Serra in Washington, D.C.—the first ever to take place on American soil—has generated, as I’m sure you know, a good deal of controversy. For his defenders, Padre Serra was an intrepid evangelist and a model of Gospel living, while for his detractors, he was a shameless advocate of an oppressive colonial system that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Indians. Even many who typically back Pope Francis see this canonization as a rare faux pas for the Argentine Pontiff. What should we make of all this?

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