Address on Father Junípero Serra and Evangelization

Dear Bishop Shubsda,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I come today as a pilgrim to this Mission of San Carlos, which so powerfully evokes the heroic spirit and heroic deeds of Fray Junípero Serra and which enshrines his mortal remains. This serene and beautiful place is truly the historical and spiritual heart of California.

All the missions of El Camino Real bear witness to the challenges and heroism of an earlier time, but not a time forgotten or without significance for the California of today and the Church of today.

These buildings and the men who gave them life, especially their spiritual father, Junípero Serra, are reminders of an age of discovery and exploration. The missions are the result of a conscious moral decision made by people of faith in a situation that presented many human possibilities, both good and bad, with respect to the future of this land and its native peoples.

It was a decision to proclaim rooted in a love of God and neighbor. It was a decision to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the dawn of a new age, which was extremely important for both the European settlers and the Native Americans.