After St. Junipero Serra statue is torn down, San Francisco archbishop says protests being ‘hijacked’ by violence

CNA Staff, Jun 20, 2020 / 08:55 pm (CNA).- After the toppling of a saint’s statue in San Francisco, the city’s archbishop said Saturday that important protests over racial injustice have been “hijacked” by a mob bent on violence.

“What is happening to our society? A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and police brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said in a statement June 20.

The archbishop’s statement came after a statue of St. Junipero Serra was torn down in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park Friday, along with statues of Francis Scott Key and Ulysses S. Grant.

“The toppling and defacing of statues in Golden Gate Park, including that of St. Junipero Serra, have become the latest example,” of that shift in the protest movement, the archbishop added.

“The memorialization of historic figures merits an honest and fair discussion as to how and to whom such honor should be given. But here, there was no such rational discussion; it was mob rule, a troubling phenomenon that seems to be repeating itself throughout the country.”

Cordileone emphasized the importance of calls for racial justice and an end to police brutality, which began after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

“Everyone who works for justice and equality joins in the outrage of those who have been and continue to be oppressed,” the archbishop said.

“It is especially true that followers of Jesus Christ – Christians – are called to work tirelessly for the dignity of all human beings,” he added, noting that St. Francis of Assisi, for whom San Francisco was named, is “one of history’s most iconic figures of peace and goodwill.”

“For the past 800 years, the various Franciscan orders of brothers, sisters and priests that trace their inspiration back to him have been exemplary of not only serving, but identifying with, the poor and downtrodden and giving them their rightful dignity as children of God,“ Cordileone said.

“St. Junipero Serra is no exception.”

Serra, who was canonized a saint by Pope Francis in 2015, was an eighteenth century Franciscan missionary who founded nine Catholic missions in the area that would later become California; many of those missions would go on to become the centers of major California cities.

Serra helped to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity and taught them new agricultural technologies.

Critics have lambasted Serra as a symbol of European colonialism and have characterized the missions as engaged in the forced labor of Native Americans, sometimes claiming Bl. Serra himself was abusive.

But Serra’s defenders, including Cordileone, say that Serra was actually an advocate for native people and a champion of human rights.

“St. Serra made heroic sacrifices to protect the indigenous people of California from their Spanish conquerors, especially the soldiers. Even with his infirmed leg which caused him such pain, he walked all the way to Mexico City to obtain special faculties of governance from the Viceroy of Spain in order to discipline the military who were abusing the Indians.  And then he walked back to California,” the archbishop said Saturday.

“And lest there be any doubt, we have a physical reminder to this day: everywhere there is a presidio (soldiers’ barracks) associated with a mission in the chain of 21 missions that he founded, the presidio is miles away from the mission itself and the school.”

Cordileone said he did not want to “deny that historical wrongs have occurred, even by people of good will, and healing of memories and reparation is much needed. But just as historical wrongs cannot be righted by keeping them hidden, neither can they be righted by re-writing the history.”

The archbishop praised the saint’s missionary zeal: “St. Junipero Serra also offered them the best thing he had: the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, which he and his fellow Franciscan friars did through education, health care, and training in the agrarian arts.”

“Anger against injustice can be a healthy response when it is that righteous indignation which moves a society forward. But as Christ himself teaches, and St. Francis modeled, love, and not rage, is the only answer,” the archbishop concluded.


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  1. I’ve seen that statues of folks of African and Caribbean ancestry are being
    vandalized here and in the UK.
    It’s become a free for all.

    • They vandalized the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and their colonel, Robert Gould Shaw. The 54th was a black regiment during the Civil War. Gould and many of his men died together in battle. The movie “Glory” was based on their story.

      Then of course there’s the statue of Robert the Bruce, in Scotland, defaced with painted signs calling him a racist king. Since he lived in the early 1300’s, I’m not entirely sure against whom he was supposed to be racist.

      The rioters are not rioting because of any alleged racism or because of principles. They are unprincipled and delight in destruction.

      And the “peaceful protesters” did everything but issue them engraved invitations.

      • There are no “peaceful protesters.” Forget George Floyd, The whole point of these protests is to overthrow, and destroy, United States history. They are proving to us that they (the Left ) can spit in our faces, and do whatever they want, because they have all the power.

        They have the power to define who is good, and should be allowed to survive their destruction of history.. Isn’t it interesting that the statue of V.I. Lenin.—murderer of (an estimated) 25 million Russian (and other) people and the creator of the Communist Gulag system of slave labor—still stands in the city’s Fremont neighborhood.

        Apparently, there’s no danger of Vladimir’s statue being torn down. Obviously, what Vladimir stands for in history is good. Theodore Roosevelt, or U.S. Grant are bad.

        Where are the Bishops and priests and religious protecting their flock from the coming of The NAZI hordes to the U.S.? I’ll tel you what I think: They’re hiding out, and silent, because they’re not sure of their own righteousness. They are as lost as our,political leaders are lost.

        The horde will come for them, and our churches, and, finally, us. Then, I suppose, they’ll tell us to sacrifice ourselves for the sins of…of whom? Our forefathers? European history? The world? Instead of criticizing the horde destroying a point of our history, and one of their churches, our religious leaders criticize the only political leader we have who made any kind of an attempt to express the righteousness of Christianity, Western Civilization, and the United States. Him they denigrate.

        Our leaders, religious and political, are suicidal—and they have made most of their flock as suicidal as they are.

  2. Antifa and BLM are nothing but terrorists and braindead leftist mobs (which is what BLM stands for BTW). Shut them down.

  3. Some questions – What does Nancy Pelosi have to say about these incidents? Joe Biden?

    More important – Will anyone in the MSM even ASK them?

  4. It can hardly be a surprise to the people starting the “important protests” that their protests were hijacked by mobs bent on violence, considering that it happens over and over and over. They are making themselves complicit in the violence by allowing themselves to be used.

  5. “They are making themselves complicit in the violence by allowing themselves to be used”.
    Has anybody bothered to read the BLM manifesto?

  6. To hear them and some braindeads tell it, the mobs of history have such a special past where they have been so beneficial to us all and brought about true change. What fairy tail have they been reading?? (pun intended) The 2nd best thing the Missions and Saints like Serra did, was prepare a unsuspecting native population to the fact that Europe was coming and help them have the skills and language to meet it. We cannot change the way history unfolded. Gratitude is always the best route. Liberals want us to be blank with no history so that they can tell us who we are. Sorry God has already told me who I am. I’m not buying what they are selling or bowing to their God.

  7. BLM demands per link above – this list seems to be truncated, no mention of their anti-family position.
    I’ll go back to the article by Al Mohler (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) – “Black Lives Matter: Affirm the Sentence, Not the Movement”, in Public Discourse, June 18.

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