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Insights: Fray Serra Canonization, Veto Alerts, #PopeinUS

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September 18, 2015

Padre Junípero Serra – The Path to Canonization

On September 23, 2015, Pope Francis will preside over the canonization ceremony of Father Junipero Serra in Washington D.C.  Long considered the “Apostle of California,” Serra will be honored by the Catholic Church as a symbol of heroic sacrifice and evangelization.

Father Serra, a Franciscan friar and prominent figure in the Spanish settlement of California, answered a call from God to leave a comfortable academic life in Spain, travel to the far edge of the Spanish colonial empire and bring the Catholic faith to those who had never known it before.  He traveled thousands of miles – to Mexico and throughout California – founding nine of California’s 21 missions.  These missions would later become the first settlements in many of California’s major cities.

When Father Serra died at the age of 70 in 1784, he was mourned by friars and many of the Mission Indians, who referred to him for generations after his death as “el santo”— the saint.

However, the effort to canonize him did not begin until 1934, when Bishop Philip Scher of the new diocese of Monterey-Fresno – who had a special devotion to Father Serra and had spent time with the Franciscans in the Santa Barbara area – requested that the Holy See open the cause for Serra’s elevation to sainthood.

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Also look for the special Catholic News Service Report - Serra’s Legacy Complicated by Practices, Conflicts of His Time

Urgent Action Needed! Email Governor Today

Urge Governor Brown to VETO Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill

ABx2-15 Physician-Assisted Suicide (Eggman, D-Stockton) does not protect the patient.  It does not provide for adequate end-of-life treatment options.  It sends the impression that suicide, to save money, is an acceptable option.

California Catholic Conference Statement on Passage of Assisted-Suicide Bill (En Español)

“It is a sad reality and a sobering cultural commentary that an extraordinary session called to address a billion dollar hole in the Medi-Cal budget can pass an assisted suicide bill but can’t find a way to pay for primary care, second opinions, cancer treatment or end of life care for the 12 million vulnerable Californians who participate in the Medi-Cal program.”  Continued reading.

Urge Gov. Brown to veto AB 775

Sitting on the governor’s desk is a bill that discriminates against any and all pro-life pregnancy centers/clinics.  It forces these clinics to advertise abortion services. The governor needs to hear from you, that this violation of the First Amendment should not be made into law.

The Miracle of Blessed Father Serra

The impending canonization of Blessed Father Junípero Serra is striking for its incongruities.

Although he's been a ubiquitous influence in California for centuries, the announcement by Pope Francis that he would canonize Blessed Serra this year has raised some eyebrows. Though Blessed Serra is widely venerated, the announcement has stirred up controversy among critics, many of them Native Americans who feel his canonization is an affront to their people, culture and history.

Even Fr. Serra’s canonization itself is extraordinary -- one that bypasses the usual protocol, by authority of the Pope. Canonization is typically a long and arduous procedure, but can be wildly divergent. The canonization of St. Bede took 770 years, yet St. John Paul ll was canonized in only nine years.

The procedure for investigating the lives of candidates for sainthood, and the miracles attributed to them, was established by Pope Gregory IX in 1234, and has been revised over the years by subsequent popes. Traditionally, two miracles are required: one for beatification, the process by which a person is declared "blessed," and one for canonization, the final declaration of sainthood. Father Francis Weber, archivist emeritus for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, emphasizes the stringency of the process, and the level of scrutiny given to the cases.

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Fr. Serra’s Continuing Influence on California

Fr. Serra’s Legacy, the Mission Communities Today - Nearly 250 years after Fr. Junípero Serra planted the seeds of Christianity in Alta California, 19 of California’s 21 missions still serve as active Catholic communities and places of worship to serve the religious needs of thousands of Californians.

Watch the new video from American Franciscan History Introducing Junípero Serra: The Newest Saint

The Influence of St. Francis on the Lives of Blessed Junípero Serra and Pope Francis - Fr. Serra’s impending canonization by Pope Francis gives rise to recognizing a notable connection between these two remarkable men – the tremendous influence of St. Francis of Assisi in their lives.

Franciscan Footprints - California Sites that Bear Fr. Serra's Name - From 1769 to 1784, Franciscan missionary Father Junípero Serra traveled up and down California, founding the first nine of California’s 21 missions. Through the many points of interest that now bear his name, Father Serra’s historic footsteps have made lasting impressions.

On the Web

Watching the Pope - Pope Francis’ September 22-27 visit to the United States will be available via a video livestream at, where people from around the world can follow every moment of the visit.  Several cable systems will carry complete coverage as well.  EWTN, for instance, will be all pope, all the time.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is also launching social media profiles on Twitter (Spanish) and Instagram.   #PopeinUS and #PapaEnUSA are the hashtags.  And the California Catholic Conference will cover events via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 “Reasonable Religious Belief” – Not a Decision for Courts - On September 3, five federal judges of the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did something highly unusual in our justice system. They issued a sharp critique of that Court’s own July 14 three-judge panel that ruled against the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Read an update on the case.

Restoring Justice in California - We invite you to learn about restorative justice and what our Church teaches. PRAY for all who are impacted by the criminal justice system.  ACT to bring healing in our communities, families, and parishes. For more information, visit,   For event information, “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Publication Note:  Public Policy Insights will not be published next week.  To keep up with developments follow us on Facebook and Twitter.