126 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed
this way, they were helped to move from their nomadic past to a stable
domestic way of life. His extensive factual reports of his missionary actions
reveal a man who loved his people.
In 1987, when Pope John Paul II planned to beatify Fr. Serra, a protest
was raised by some Native Americans, who argued that the Spanish sol-
diers and missionaries tried to eradicate the language, culture, and iden-
tity of their people in California. The Pope met with Native American lead-
ers in Phoenix. He defended the legacy of the Franciscan missionaries.
He admitted that there had been some excesses. He also noted that
the weight of the evidence indicated that Fr. Serra had never been guilty of
mistreating the Native Americans. Actually, he had defended them from
harm. The Pope then went to the San Carlos mission (Monterey-Carmel)
and prayed at Fr. Serra’s grave. He beatified Fr. Serra on September 25,
1988, in St. Peter’s Square. He praised Fr. Serra as “an exemplary model
of the selfless evangelizer, a shining example of Christian virtue and the
A statue of Blessed Junipero Serra is in the National Statuary Hall in
the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. A bronze statue of Serra
is mounted in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. His name has been
adopted by the lay organization known as the Serra Club, which does
much to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the United
States and other countries. Fr. Serra died in 1784.
Blessed Junipero Serra, now on his final step to sainthood, witnessed
to the holiness of the Church. As an extraordinary missionary, Serra is an
exceptional example of the Church’s apostolic calling to preach and wit-
ness the Gospel to all peoples. He thus exhibited in an extraordinary way
two of the four marks that characterize the Church.
THE FOUR MARKS OF THE CHURCH
It is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his
Church one, holy, catholic and apostolic, and it is he
who calls her to realize each of these qualities.
—CCC, no. 811