It will certainly be a challenge to clarify some of the lengthy collection of misinformation included in the Oct. 1 cover story ("Mission to sainthood"), so I will be unnecessarily brief:
1. Serra’s extraordinary life is extraordinarily well documented. As part of the canonization process, many years ago EVERY KNOWN document related to him was collected and submitted to the Vatican. If anyone is interested in pursuing the resultant volumes, including his letters, a well-documented biography, etc., I will provide a bibliography to them. On the other hand, I haven’t noted one shred of evidence from his critics.
2. Generally, the objections to his life are the result of either ignoring the documents or relying on myths and legends to concoct some sort of critique. I am not disparaging what anyone chooses to believe or feel, but in fairness, before attacking anyone, the facts help for accuracy.
3. Just as a reminder: Serra was canonized, not the missions or Spaniards or colonization. Those who confuse this point are well informed about neither history nor canonization.
4. The “grievances” seem not directed at the Franciscan friar but are some sort of mishmash of guilt by association. Of course, the quoted accusers would be outraged if their character was attacked by the same methods. Even more appalling and unfair is the attacking by association of someone unable to defend him or herself.
5. As to beating anyone, there is absolutely no evidence Serra used a lash on anyone but himself for penance. If there is, I would be most interested in the source. As to another imitating Serra and dying, the incident is originally reported by his biographer and peer, Fra. Francisco Palou.
Characteristically, if here today, Serra would only pray for his accusers.
-- J. A. Carotenuti - San Luis Obispo