When I was a kid growing up in southern California, there was probably no more revered figure than that of Father Junipero Serra, the founder of the famous mission trail and the priest who brought Christianity to the West Coast. Today, of course, he’s a figure of hate:
Days after Pope Francis elevated Father Junipero Serra to sainthood, vandals struck the Carmel Mission where the remains of the controversial missionary are buried, toppling statues and damaging gravesites. The vandals, who police say acted sometime Saturday night or early Sunday morning, splashed paint throughout the cemetery and basilica and scrawled “Saint of Genocide” on a headstone.
Carmel police Sgt. Luke Powell said the incident was being investigated as a hate crime because the vandals targeted “specifically the headstones of people of European descent, and not Native American descent.”
Yeah, well, good to know, sergeant. But calling this a “hate crime” misses the enormity of what’s happening in California and elsewhere, where a sickness — no, an evil — is stalking our country. It’s Critical Theory in action, the now-literal tearing-down of our country’s history.
Serra, an 18th century friar who brought Catholicism to California, has been criticized by many for his harsh treatment of Native Americans. Despite protests, Pope Francis canonized Serra on Wednesday in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., saying the friar “sought to defend the dignity of the native community,” and suggesting his legacy has been misinterpreted.
The Carmel Mission had planned an event Sunday celebrating Serra’s sainthood. Instead, staff and volunteers spent the morning picking up statues and scrubbing off graffiti. “Pray that the people [who] did this take responsibility for their actions on this sacred property and that they seek reconciliation,” a mission representative wrote on Facebook.
Don’t worry — they won’t.