As the debate heats up over the removal of controversial statues throughout the country, vandals targeted a monument dedicated to a religious figure in California. Late last week, a photo that appears to show a defaced statue of Catholic Saint Junipero Serra made its way around social media, and the vandalism is sparking outrage.
In the photo, Fr. Serra’s face and hands have been graffitied red and his body has been tagged with the word “murder,” while the young Native American child at his side has a swastika painted on his chest. City officials have been unable to confirm the authenticity of the photo, but KCBS-TV sent a crew to the park across the street from Mission Fernando Church where the statue stands and confirmed there was remnants of red paint visible.
With seemingly no figure, religious or otherwise, safe from the maelstrom of political correctness currently sweeping the nation, it is unclear what the future will hold for the statue. As the Los Angeles Times reported, monuments and missions honoring Serra have been targeted by vandals since Pope Francis made the Franciscan friar a saint in 2015.
Serra founded nine missions from up and down the California coast and is credited with bringing Catholicism to California while the state was still under Spanish rule. In the years after his 1784 death, 12 additional missions were created in his name.
During his canonization ceremony, Pope Francis said Serra “sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it,” but not everyone sees it that way. Detractors believe that Serra’s missions actually led to greater oppression of the indigenous communities, with converted natives allegedly being separated from those who did not embrace Christianity.
Since his rise to sainthood in 2015, there have been several reports of vandalism at sites connected to Serra. Interviewing locals at the scene of the latest incident, KCBS-TV found opinions on the subject to be split.
“It’s a beautiful park for people to enjoy,” said Paul Minette. “And for others to come and take that away from us is wrong.”
But Cristian Ramirez disagreed, saying the statue should not be on display in a public space.
“I think the statue should come down from this park, and then put some appreciation to the Native people that live here,” Ramirez said. “We don’t want this violent history to be praised in our community.”
Ultimately, everyone seemed to agree that while people are entitled to their own interpretation of Serra’s life and legacy, the destruction of monuments should not be tolerated.
“Everyone’s entitled to their own public opinions and thoughts,” said Cristian Mendoza. “But once it gets to this level I don’t think it’s right.”
(H/T: Daily Wire)