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Social Studies High School

Catholic Missions and Junipero Serra during Spanish Colonialism

Spanish colonization in the Americas staring in the 16th century was accompanied by the Catholic Church hoping to convert as many Native Americans to Christianity as possible. A central figure was Father Junipero Serra, who forcibly converted thousands of Native Americans to the Catholic faith. That’s why in 2015 when Pope Francis, the first leader of the Catholic Church from Latin America, awarded the 18th century Spanish priest sainthood, there was a backlash from Native Americans. Descendants of Native Americans say Serra is responsible for destroying their traditions and ways of life. Listen to the audio story to hear both sides of this story and the controversy surrounding the Pope’s decision to make Father Serra a saint.

Religion Colonialism

Story Length: 4:07

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National Public Radio © 2015 National Public Radio, Inc. Used with the permission of NPR. All rights reserved.

AIR DATE: 09/16/2015

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