CNA Staff, Oct 20, 2020 / 01:42 am
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco on Saturday performed an exorcism at the site of a destroyed statue of St. Junipero Serra, calling the statue's destruction by rioters an "act of blasphemy."
"We pray that God might purify this place of evil spirits, that he might purify the hearts of those who perpetrated this blasphemy, that he might envelop them in his love, that their hearts might be softened and turn toward Him," Cordileone said Oct. 17 before a crowd of about 150 people.
Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan priest and missionary, has been criticized by some activists as a symbol of colonialism and of the abuses that many Native Americans suffered after contact with Europeans. However, historians say Serra protested abuses and sought to fight colonial oppression.
A Oct. 12 protest at Mission San Rafael Archangel began peacefully but then turned violent, as participants defaced the statue of the saint with red paint before dragging it to the ground with nylon straps and ropes.