Canonization doesn’t mean Blessed Serra was perfect, experts say

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April 30, 2015

Robert Senkewicz and Rose Marie Beebe, who are married and are professors at Santa Clara University in California, speak at a media briefing on Blessed Junipero Serra sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in Rome April 30. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SERRA-LA April 30, 2015.

Robert Senkewicz and Rose Marie Beebe, who are married and are professors at Santa Clara University in California, speak at a media briefing on Blessed Junipero Serra sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in Rome April 30. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME (CNS) — Blessed Junipero Serra is being canonized because he was holy, not because he was perfect, said a team of experts on the life and ministry of the 18th-century Spanish missionary.

Although he is a historian, not a theologian, Robert Senkewicz said: “My sense is that people are not canonized because they are perfect — otherwise, presumably, St. Peter would never have been canonized. They are canonized because they made a commitment which, on balance, had more good than non-good associated with it.”

Senkewicz, a professor of history at Santa Clara University in California, and Rose Marie Beebe, his wife who also is a professor at Santa Clara, are co-authors of a new biography, “Junipero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary.”

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