Pope Francis criticizes the policies of the Trump Administration but does not mention the treatment of California Native Peoples TODAY regarding Native Lands appropriated by the Church and the Spanish Government in the 1700 and 1800’s!
Pope Francis stated:
“In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail,” he said. “Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”
Did, or does, the Pope apply the same pious rhetoric to the Mexican and California Native Peoples who were driven off of their lands and converted to Catholicism during the California Missionary period? Does the Pope care that the Ohlone, Costanoan, Esselen Nation, OCEN, the tribe that inhabited the greater Monterey/Carmel region of California, is not even officially recognized by the Federal Government nor does it have any real say in the day-to-day operations of the Missions in this region? This tribe lived with St. Serra at the Carmel Mission and helped to build that mission and the others in the region.
The Catholic hierarchy in California, especially under the Archbishop José Horacio Gomez in its Southern and Central dioceses, only pay attention to the native voices when there is a problem. The hierarchy still treats our native peoples like second class citizens and certainly not with the “respect” the Pope said they deserve.
Pope Francis spoke out seemly about he Dakota pipeline that was just approved by the Trump Administration. The contention by the tribes in the area was that the pipeline COULD damage their water supply in spite of engineering assurances that the pipeline would be safe and their water supply kept from harms way. Contrast this with actual ancient Native People’s burial grounds that surround the California missions that have been built upon, paved over, and not respected by the Church. The Pope has not said a word nor given any directives that would give the Native Peoples of these Missions any say in how the Mission Grounds are maintained or how improvements would be made. Hence, hypocrite…
In a past blog entitled, “Time for Social Justice? The Church, Its California Missions, & Its Native Peoples”, short link: http://wp.me/pY51c-Gt, there were several policies and actions that Pope Francis should insure that the California Archbishops and Bishops initiate immediately:
“New Social Justice by the Church: There are a couple of very simple efforts the Church could make to live up to Blessed Serra’s call for “Always Forward”.
- Mutual Support of Native Burial Grounds: Where there are recognized native people’s burial grounds, form agreements with the local Nations/Tribes to jointly maintain and preserve these grounds. If there are costs involved, work together to raise the funds necessary to properly maintain and preserve these grounds. We preserve art and artifacts, what is more important than human ancestral remains?
- More Open Access to Native Peoples: The Church should make sure that each mission develops policies and practices that welcome native peoples back to the missions either as individuals or groups. If there are special prayer ceremonies or other gatherings that can be scheduled, the local mission should be working with the native peoples to accommodate these events and make is easy on the native peoples to frequently engage in these events.
- Support Local Tribes: If there are local tribes that are seeking Nation status or have other needs requiring local, state or federal approval, the Church should support the native peoples in these efforts. That is not to say that the Church has to pay for the legal or other costs, but they should lend all of the support they can to facilitate the local peoples efforts.
- The Church, Act Like Blessed (now Saint) Serra: Serra was first and foremost an evangelist seeking to convert everyone he came in contact with. Conversion to the Catholic Faith was his passion and driving force and can be seen in all of his writings. Many of the descendants of the mission era native peoples were converted to Catholicism and baptized by Fr. Serra or his fellow friars. Many of these same people have fallen away from the Church for a lot of reasons just like other peoples. Perhaps the Church could make a more concerted effort to welcome these descendants back into the Church and welcome them as part of the Church and its mission roots.
- The Church Should Be Respectful: The Church and the Spanish founded the San Diego Mission in 1769. Recently, in Pacific Grove, California, a local member an early Esselen tribe was exhumed and the remains were found to be over 5,000 years old. Understand that the native peoples may look at the mission lands as their own and respect their right to do so. They are not going to take the lands back!”
Before Pope Francis takes himself too seriously regarding Native People Policy by others, perhaps a little papal introspection may be helpful. He is ignoring a whole civilization who no longer are practicing Catholics and feel that their Church has abandoned them. It is easy to criticize others but you better make sure your house is in order first.