Controversy erupted when the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would canonize Serra during his trip to the US.
He said Serra defended the dignity of Native Americans.
This year, legislators attempted to replaced a statue of Serra that sits in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington with a statue of Sally Ride, an astronaut and educator whose legacy is less controversial than that of the Catholic church’s newest saint. One photo shows a rock with “Saint of genocide” written across. “Signs do indicate that this is related to the canonization of Junipero Serra“, Carmel Police Sgt. Luke Powell said.
Mission San Diego de Alcalá is known as the very first mission that Saint Junipero Serra started in California.
No Native American tombstones were vandalized during the Carmel mission crime; rather, all those affected were that of Europeans. The vandalism happened on the eve of a ceremony at the mission to commemorate Serra, according to the Associated Press. “The situation of Colonialism and oppression of native peoples has nothing good to speak for it”, Father Charles said.
Serra introduced Christianity and established settlements as he marched north with Spanish conquistadores.
“We haven’t focused our investigation on any specific intent right now-we’re doing a broad-spectrum investigation”, Powell said.
Francis, who was born in Argentina, said on a summer visit to Latin America that “many grave sins” had been committed against Native American people in God’s name, but insisted last week that Serra had stood up for his missions’ residents.
“He was the embodiment of ‘a Church which goes forth, ‘ a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God,” Francis said. As part of the procession, worshippers carried a relic which contained a bone fragment of Saint Junipero Serra’s body. “He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters”. Guests who expected to honor Serra ended up cleaning up the graveyard, washing graffiti off gravestones and picking up toppled statues. “Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven. Pray that the people how did this take responsibility for their actions on this sacred property and that they seek reconciliation”.
Then, a Native American wearing a cape of hemp, shells and feathers presented Father Serra’s relics.