Catholics in California rallied in a peaceful demonstration Tuesday evening at the former site of a statue of St. Junipero Serra, which a group of activists defaced and pulled down earlier this week.

The riot at which the statue was destroyed took place Oct. 12 at Mission San Rafael Arcángel in San Rafael, north of San Francisco Bay.

Father Kyle Faller, parochial vicar at the mission, led a rosary and addressed the crowd of 75-100 people Oct. 13, many of whom held signs saying “Free the Mass,” in reference to the city’s COVID-19 restrictions on public worship, which San Francisco’s archbishop has called unjust.

Faller led a Litany of Reparation for the statue’s destruction, as well as the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

“Let this be a time for all of you to take courage and not be afraid, as our great Pope St. John Paul II said,” Faller told the crowd….

The hourlong protest Oct. 12, organized by members of the Coast Miwok tribe, marked Indigenous People’s Day, the holiday that some cities and states – including California – have designated to replace Columbus Day.

A church maintenance worker had covered the statue in duct tape before the protest to protect it from graffiti, and boarded up windows at the mission….

The masked rioters peeled off the duct tape and sprayed red paint in the statue’s face. Some protestors tried to prevent local news cameras from filming the toppling, but Fox2 captured the statue’s fall on video. At least five people can be seen pulling on the statue’s head with nylon cords and ropes.

Faller said when he and the parish pastor, Father Luello Palacpac, looked out at the rioters pulling down the statue, they saw “people that need to be loved….”

Police have arrested five women in connection with the incident and charged them with felony vandalism, Fox2 reported….

The above comes from an Oct. 14 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.


Archbishop Cordileone: “What happens next is crucial”

San Francisco’s archbishop plans to conduct an exorcism Oct. 17 at the site of a now-toppled statue of St. Junipero Serra at St. Rafael Mission Church in San Rafael.

Just the saint’s feet are left after the statue on church property was vandalized and desecrated Oct. 12 by what Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone described as a “small, violent mob,” who he hopes will be prosecuted for attacking the statue….

“Once again, this time at St. Raphael Parish, a statue of St. Junipero Serra was mindlessly defaced and toppled by a small, violent mob,” Archbishop Cordileone said in an Oct. 13 statement. “This kind of behavior has no place in any civilized society.”

He said the police arrested five “of the perpetrators,” but “what happens next is crucial.”

“If these are treated as small property crimes, it misses the point: The symbols of our faith are now under attack not only on public property, but now on our own property and even inside of our churches,” he said. “We cannot allow a small unelected group of lawbreakers to decide what sacred symbols we Catholics or other believers may display and use to foster our faith. This must stop….”

The above comes from an Oct. 14 story by Catholic News Agency.