This week, Gov. Jerry Brown, who was once a Jesuit seminarian, asserted that he will block California legislators from attempting to replace the statue of Father Junípero Serra in the National Statuary Hall Collection on Capitol Hill with a statue of astronaut Sally Ride.
Brown told the Catholic News Service, “We’re going to keep his statue in Congress. It’s done as far as I’m concerned.” He lauded the Pope’s scheduled canonization of Serra later this year, calling Serra “California’s first saint,” and adding, “He showed a lot courage. The pope is right in recognizing his sanctity.”
The bill to replace Serra’s statue with Ride’s came from State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), although Lara decided to wait a year to introduce it because of the canonization in September, when Pope Francis visits the United States.
Brown had praised Serra in January, depicting him as “a very courageous man, and one of the innovators and pioneers of California.”
Noting protests by Native Americans claiming Serra had brutalized their ancestors, Brown added:
There’s been a lot of tragedy, there’s been a lot of suffering, there’s been a lot of prejudice and a lot of misunderstanding on all sides relating to not just native peoples, but African Americans, Chinese, you just name it.And yet through it all California has prospered. So this is the subtle point that sometimes is hard to understand–that tragedy and good and evil often inhere in the same situation. And that doesn’t mean we won’t have our saints. It’s just that we have to understand that saints, like everybody else, are not perfect.