Pope defends Blessed Serra, prays for missionary zeal in Americas

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May 2, 2015

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Pontifical North American College in Rome May 2. It was the first papal visit to the U.S. seminary since 1980. At the end of Mass, Pope Francis said the visit to the seminary was "a beautiful and meaningful introduction to my apostolic visit to the United States of America." (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-NAC and SERRA-NAC May 2, 2015.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Pontifical North American College in Rome May 2. It was the first papal visit to the U.S. seminary since 1980. At the end of Mass, Pope Francis said the visit to the seminary was “a beautiful and meaningful introduction to my apostolic visit to the United States of America.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People seem to enjoy finding the shortcomings of candidates for sainthood like Blessed Junipero Serra, but they should ask themselves if they would have his generosity and courage to leave everything behind to care for the poor and bring them the Gospel, Pope Francis said.

Visiting the Pontifical North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome, Pope Francis insisted Blessed Serra fits into a host of saints who shaped the history and culture of the Americas, particularly by spreading Christianity, caring for the poor and defending the oppressed.

The pope’s Mass May 2 with 250 seminarians from more than 100 U.S. dioceses, as well as Australia and Canada, came at the end of a symposium on Blessed Serra organized by the seminary, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Knights of Columbus.

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