The following is an excerpt of a commentary by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone that was first published in the Washington Post, June 30, 2020.
To the protesters who tore down his statue in Los Angeles this month, the priest, friar and St. Junípero Serra represents “hate, bigotry and colonization,” as one activist put it. Nothing would have made Serra sadder, for the real man was a profound lover of all people and especially of the indigenous peoples he came to serve.
Serra left his home, his family, his sinecure as a philosophy professor to offer the very best thing he had to the California people: the news that God Himself loved them enough to send His only Son to die on a cross to redeem them.
Serra repeatedly intervened for mercy on behalf of indigenous rebels against Spanish authorities. He famously walked to Mexico City with a painful ulcerated leg to obtain the authority to discipline the military who were abusing the indigenous people. Then he walked back.
There is no denying that Native Americans in California endured grave human rights abuses. But if we looked at Serra with clear eyes, we would see him as one of the first American champions of the human rights of indigenous peoples, a man who protested abusive police powers by government authorities.
The deaths that occurred during the Mission era were primarily from disease. The greater, more deliberate devastation happened later, when secular governments took control. As UCLA historian Benjamin Madley writes in his book “American Genocide”: “Murders and massacres filled the archives.” As Santa Clara University historian Robert Senkewicz told the National Catholic Reporter, “We do know what did happen when religious groups were not present to try to protect native peoples.”
Full story at Catholic San Francisco.
I’m hardly a scholar on Serra, and the Archbishop might be right. But if he stood up for the living saints among us, instead of the dead ones long gone and part of our staturary, he might be more effective as a pastor of souls.
St. Junipero Serra is not dead, he is in Heaven interceding for us, as all the Saints do.
Your Fellow Catholic: are you actually Catholic? You just denied the Communion of Saints. Can you confess the faith by reciting the Apostles Creed?
The Catholic Church is getting massacred by Covid-19, but talking about statues makes it look like leadership is being exercised.
There is no massacre. Stop watching tv and get off twitter. Go live life, read a book, tend a garden, go for a walk, say I love you to someone, pray.
Thats right no churches have been vandalized or burned, it’s all a fable….
Wow, YFC, any chance to take a shot at the archbishop, eh?
Any charity or gratitude?
If you’d like an informed opinion on Saint Junipero, check out Junipero Serra – California, Indians and the Transformation of a Missionary by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz.
I’m not a Serra scholar, but have studied his life for quite a while. Like Pope Francis, I know Saint Junipero is not the man some are trying to make him out to be.
Bishop Robert Barron posted an excellent video responding to the controversy regarding St. Junipero Serra. It is available on You Tube.
God bless Archbishop Cordileone for speaking the truth. St. Juniper Serra gave up much to bring Christianity to California. I have a St. Serra Rosary that I finally managed to get blest.
St. Junipero Serra pray for us Californians. You are a part of us. Every time I drive down the El Camino, the Alameda or San Thomas, I think of you. Thank you for the King’s Highway (Christ the King’s).
Anne TE, that should be Santo Tomás. I know what the signs say. They are bad Spanish and wrong.
Larry, I mixed up the Spanish and English inadvertently in my post, and I do not have the equipment to use the proper accents, but in California, although santo means a holy man, it is San Tomas, San Jose, San Joaquin and San Luis Obispo for proper names. It might be otherwise for other Spanish dialects, I do not know.
Larry, I do see what you mean as there is a place called “Santo Domingo” outside the U.S., which is probably more correct and a difference in dialects. There are Spanish words which were said around our families that I no longer use as I discovered they were just American Spanish slang which were innocent when said here but meant something no so innocent to Spanish speakers from other countries.
Correction to my last post; The San Tomas, and their full names are El Camino Real (the King’s Highway) and the San Tomas Aquino (St. Thomas of Aquino), and towards the east they become Santa Clara (St. Clare). So may they always be.
Pray for us, you who walked that way on foot.
Oops! St. Thomas of Aquinas, got the Spanish and English mixed up again. (laughter.)
Thank you Archbishop for defending a great saint of our Church. Please more bishops do not be afraid to speak out for the truth.
The County of Ventura, CA, might remove Saint Junipero Serra from the county seal. But Father Tom Elewaut, pastor of the Old Mission Basilica of San Buenaventura, implored elected officials to keep Serra on any county seal. “Do your homework, read the historical facts, and learn who really abused the indigenous peoples. Not Serra himself and not the intent of the Mission Era,” Father Elewaut said. Full story linked below:
By the way, there are a multitude of cities, counties and other places in the United States named from Native American tribal languages – Sequoia (Sequoah), Wawona, Seattle, Yosemite being among a host of others. There are many a Cherokee Lane and such in the United States I am sure.
Hats off to Archbishop Cordeleone! He speaks the TRUTH and is not afraid to express it!! Wish we had more Bishops who did the same! Fr Serra was indeed a bearer of Christs Goodness and suffered intense pain as he established the chain of California Missions. St Serra pray for those who are so ignorant! Read more of your history !!! Thank You for all you do for us!