Donna Shindler, who has spent 25 years working with indigenous peoples as a psychiatrist, continues telling her story:
(from) For Native Americans, Historical Trauma is Deadly
By Donna Schindler
Republished with the author’s permission
Multiple times, Valentin Lopez, Chairperson of the Amah Mutsun tribal band in Northern California, Bishop Quinn and I sent letters and a video regarding the trauma natives endured in the missions to Pope Francis, asking the Vatican to acknowledge the suffering that the Catholic church had caused the California Natives who built and were forced to stay in the missions.
Our only reply was from a Pope substitute who said he would pray for our intentions.
In 2015, Pope Francis said that he planned to canonize Fr. Junipero Serra, who had started the mission system in California in the 1700’s. Bishop Quinn, Chairperson Lopez and I invited Father Ken Lavarone (vice postulator for Serra’s cause) and Bishop Ed Clark of the California Bishops Conference to discuss the need for the church to apologize to the mission descendants and our concern that the Pope planned to canonize Fr. Junipero Serra.
Fr. Lavarone and Bishop Clark were not at all interested in our point of view. When we mentioned the book A Cross of Thorns by Elias Castillo which is critical of the missions, both Clark and Laverone dismissed it, saying, “He’s not a historian.” Castillo, a recognized expert on Mexico and three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, spent years doing research for his book.
Lavarone and Andrew Galvan, one of the few Indians who supported the canonization of Serra, were present on the altar during Serra’s canonization.
The stories that have been told regarding the California missions are unfathomable. I used to find it difficult to believe the horrible stories I heard about what had happened to Native Americans. After many years, I no longer allow myself the luxury of not believing.
Clearly, not telling the truth regarding what happened in the California missions and canonizing the man who started them is like nailing the coffin lid shut—the suffering will continue and in a hundred years the true history may be lost.
As a practicing Catholic for my entire life until 2015, I feel that it would bring great healing to both the descendants of the California mission Indians as well as the Catholic church for Serra’s canonization to be revoked, an appropriate apology and reconciliation to be made, and the truth to be told in the missions and elsewhere.
Cleary, political silence is not a virtue. I thank Donna Schindler for speaking out and all others who do so about the sad and tragic history of indigenous peoples on the American continents and indeed around the world. And not to keep silence about the Discovery Doctrine that still reigns after 572 years.
See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest, pp. 141, 144f., 154, 192, 224, 260, 279f., 373-76, 443f.
Also see Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Indigenous People’s Day – October 12, 2020, Mission San Rafael Arcángel: Local native Coast Miwoks and allies rallied in front of the statue of Junípero Serra at Saint Raphael’s Catholic Church in Marin County, CA, calling for the removal of the statue and acknowledgment of Serra’s brutal legacy. After numerous impassioned speeches, the statue was covered with red paint and ropes were used to pull the statue down. Photo by Peg Hunter on Flickr
Queries for Contemplation
What can you do about the historical trauma that has been inflicted on indigenous peoples near and far?
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.