Archbishops Defend St. Serra Against 'Outrageous' Claims

St. Serra Statue

In an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal last week, Archbishops Cordileone and Gomez came to the defense of St. Junipero Serra, founder of California's mission system, against lawmakers' attempts to permanently remove his statue of the State Capitol and disparage his name in the process.

Senate Bill 388, which would replace St. Serra's statue with one representing Native Americans, cleared both houses and now awaits Governor Newsom's signature.

While the Archbishops support the creation of a Native monument which is long "overdue", the Archbishops dispute the Legislature's "slandering [Serra's] name and pushing a false narrative about the mission period in California."

The bills “forward” claims that Serra was responsible for enslavement, mutilation, genocide, and assaults on Native peoples. During debate on the bill, even well-respected Hispanic lawmakers noted that the terms used to describe Serra are misconstrued and overblown.

"While there is much to criticize from this period, no serious historian has ever made such outrageous claims about Serra or the mission system," the Archbishops wrote.

The Angelus News also published an editorial in response, calling for the truth and not revisionist history to be told about Serra. It also provided a list of historians and references that defend the friar, who was called "one of the founding fathers of the United States," by Pope Francis.

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