The following comes from a May 27 KSBW news story by Caitlin Conrad:
At least one Monterey City Council member wants to send the pope a letter urging him not to declare Father Junipero Serra a saint.
“I would like to propose that we send a letter to the pope and question his plan to make father Sierra (sic) a saint,” councilwoman Libby Downey said.
Downey brought up her idea after a resident, Nina Beatty addressed the council during public comments, and spoke about the controversy surrounding Serra’s legacy.
Beatty cited allegations that Native Americans were mistreated prisoners at the Carmel Mission.
“We need to change Monterey to a place that remembers its horrible, horrible history and bring that into the light, rather than celebrating it,” Beatty said when addressing the council.
Later during the session Downey gave weight to Beatty’s comments.
“I would like to say that Nina Beatty is totally correct, having taken a California history course from Dr. Krezerian who is tops in his field, Father Sierra (sic) did not treat those Indians the way he should have,” Downey said.
Downey now plans to get her proposal put on the City Council’s agenda so leaders can weigh in and make it part of the public discussion.
“I’ve had lot of constituents show lots of concern about Father Sierra (sic) becoming a saint,” she explained as her reasoning for the discussion.
Not everyone on the council is in agreement with Downey.
City councilman Ed Smith is adamantly against the idea of sending a letter.
“Who are are we to tell the pope who he should consider for his decision,” Smith said. He said it is not the place of city government to get involved with church affairs because it violates the separation between church and state.
“I don’t see that as our purpose,” he said about sending a letter to the Pope Francis.
Downey plans to bring the item up at next Tuesday’s meeting to get it on a future agenda.
“I will make a request for an agenda item to discuss this issue to see if we want to send a letter or whether we want to completely keep out of it because of the church-state situatio,” she said.