Archbishop Jose Gomez:
“….The real St. Junípero fought a colonial system where natives were regarded as ‘barbarians’ and ‘savages,’ whose only value was to serve the appetites of the white man. For St. Junípero, this colonial ideology was a blasphemy against the God who has ‘created (all men and women) and redeemed them with the most precious blood of his Son.’
“He lived and worked alongside native peoples and spent his whole career defending their humanity and protesting crimes and indignities committed against them. Among the injustices he struggled against, we find heartbreaking passages in his letters where he decries the daily sexual abuse of indigenous women by colonial soldiers.
“For St. Junípero, the natives were not just powerless victims of colonial brutality. In his letters, he describes their ‘gentleness and peaceful dispositions,’ he celebrates their creativity and knowledge; he remembers little acts of kindness and generosity, even the sweet sound of their voices as they sang.
“He learned their languages and their ancient customs and ways. St. Junípero came not to conquer, he came to be a brother. ‘We have all come here and remained here for the sole purpose of their well-being and salvation,’ he once wrote. ‘And I believe everyone realizes we love them.’
“I like to think that his deep reverence for creation was influenced by his conversations and observations among this land’s first peoples.
“St. Junípero became one of America’s first environmentalists, documenting California’s diverse habitats in diary entries and letters where he described mountains and plains, the blazing sun and the effects of drought, the overflow of brooks and rivers, cottonwood and willow trees, roses in bloom, the roar of a mountain lion that kept the missionaries awake at night.
“St. Junípero understood that the souls of indigenous Americans had been darkened with bitterness and rage at their historic mistreatment and the atrocities committed against them.
“In 1775, when Kumeyaay attackers burned down the mission in San Diego, torturing and murdering his dear friend, Father Luís Jayme, California’s first martyr, St. Junípero was not outraged. He was concerned for the killers’ souls. He pleaded with authorities to have mercy.
” ‘As for the culprits, their offense should be forgiven after some slight punishment,’ he said. ‘By doing so they would see we were putting into practice the rule we teach them — to return good for evil and to pardon our enemies.’
“This may be the first moral argument against the use of the death penalty in American history. And St. Junípero was arguing against its imposition on an oppressed minority….”
The above comes from a June 29 letter from Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles published in Angelus News.
Watch the exorcism of the site of the Junipero Serra statue in Golden Gate Park by Archbishop Cordileone on June 27.
Some of Archbishop Cordileone’s words:
“Evil is present here. This is the activity of the evil one, who wants to bring down the Church. Who wants to bring down all Christian believers…. I’ve been feeling great distress and a great wound in my soul when I see these horrendous acts of blasphemy.”