I traveled extensively in Mexico after my retirement. Wherever I traveled, even in the remote fishing village of Baja California, I found a mission. I was impressed with the dedicated spiritual work of missionaries who learned the indigenous languages, fought atrocities and plagues, often met death before accomplishing their goals. I hear, on the other hand, negative reports of many priests. Seems they didn't fall under the same ink? Let's examine.
It was Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552) who traveled to Japan in 1549 via Africa and India, accompanied by Anjiro, his guide and interpreter, later known as Paulo de Santa Fe. Disappointed, however, as there was no headway gained after two years because of the dissensions throughout the country then. A priest sought China next, but died on his way. Xavier, who had baptized an estimated 30,000, was beautified in 1619 and canonized in 1622, respectively by Pope Paul V and Pope Gregory XV. He became a patron saint of the missionaries (see Rioslogger post).
As he did in Chihuahua, he mastered the indigenous language and in 7 years established 6 other missions along the coast. Close to 20 Missions were built by Jesuits after Salvatierra, but King Carlos III expelled all Jesuits from Espana Nueva. There was a couple of reasons quoted – first, "some missionaries amassed fortunes" and the other, Jesuits attempted to unseat the new king citing an illegitimate birthright. King Carlos III newly appointed Franciscan Father Junipero Serra instead to go to San Diego with Captain Portola, and later in 1772, sent Dominicans to replace Jesuits in Baja California.
A Jesuit Francisco Javier Clavijero (1731-1787), expelled in 1767 by King Charles III, relocated to Italy and became a scholar and historian. He wrote "Historia Antigua de Mexico", in which he praised works of Juan Maria Salvaierra, Eusebio Francisco Kino and other Jesuit missionaries.