CNA Staff, Jul 16, 2020 / 11:55 am America/Denver (CNA).
The city council of Ventura, California has voted to remove a statue of St. Junipero Serra from the grounds of city hall, amid riots and protests in other California cities that have resulted in the destruction of several statues of the saint in recent months.
The Ventura city Council voted 6-0 Wednesday evening to remove a bronze statue from outside city hall and a wooden replica inside the building, the LA Times reported.
The bronze statue of Serra is a 1989 replica of a 1936 concrete piece. Though the council’s resolution did not specify when the removal would take place, it declared that the intended destination of the statues would be the city’s San Buenaventura mission church, which St. Serra himself founded in the 18th century.
The vote coincided with Pope Francis’ July 15 announcement that the San Buenaventura mission church would be elevated to the status of minor basilica.
Across the country in recent months, protestors and rioters have pulled down statues of historic figures— some depicting Confederate figures, as part of a call to end systemic racism, but also some depicting abolitionists, and others such as George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.
Despite Serra’s record of defending the rights of indigenous peoples, statues of the saint have become focal points for protests and demonstrations across California in recent weeks, with images of the saint being torn down or vandalized in protest of California’s colonial past.
A statue of the saint was torn down in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, on June 19 by a crowd of about 100 people, and on the same day a statue of the saint was torn down in Los Angeles.
Rioters pulled down and defaced a statue of Serra in Sacramento on July 4, inspiring a local Catholic to set up a makeshift shrine to Serra on the statue's empty plinth July 5, and lead other Catholics in cleaning graffiti from the site.
A massive fire on July 11 devastated the mission church of San Gabriel, which Serra founded, in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The cause of the fire has not yet been announced, but it is being investigated as arson.
San Buenaventura had announced in June its intention to work with local officials and indigenous tribal leaders to see a Serra statue outside Ventura City Hall moved to “a non-public location.”