Catholic League Urges Gavin Newsom to Veto Bill Slandering Saint Junípero Serra

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a press conference after touring the Stockton V

Catholic League president Bill Donohue has called on California Governor Gavin Newsom to “forthrightly veto” a bill slandering Saint Junípero Serra as a mass murderer.

The California legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Gavin Newsom claiming that Father Serra oversaw the “genocide” of Native Americans under his care, which Dr. Donohue qualifies as “a vicious lie” in an essay Monday.

Assembly Bill 338, which passed both chambers by a significant margin and now awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature, would replace a statue of Serra at the Capitol in Sacramento with a new monument that celebrates the indigenous population. The statue was pulled down by protesters during the 2020 riots.

The bill declares that it is critical that California address “the devastating impact of the mission period, and Father Serra’s role in that devastation.”

Gatherers listen to Pope Francis as he celebrates the canonization Mass for Junipero Serra on the East Portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

“Enslavement of both adults and children, mutilation, genocide, and assault on women were all part of the mission period initiated and overseen by Father Serra,” the bill states.

“The bill is not only based on bad history, it is a slanderous attack on the one man who actually did stand up for the rights of Indians at the time,” Donohue contends.

“Not only did Serra not initiate or approve the inhumane treatment of the Indians, he led the protests against it. Importantly, the Spanish Crown ultimately agreed with his position,” writes Donohue, the author of the 2015 monograph, The Noble Legacy of Father Serra.

“Charging Serra with genocide is obscene,” Donohue states. “Genocide is what Hitler did to the Jews. Serra never killed anyone.”

“Those making this mind-boggling accusation are literally creating a narrative that has no basis in fact,” he adds. “Hitler put Jews in ovens; the missionaries put the Indians to work, paying them for their labor.”

A statue of Father Junipero Serra stands in front of the San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, California on September 23, 2015 as a visiting Pope Francis made the controversial Spanish Missionary a Saint while celebrating the first canonization on U.S soil.  (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Donohue goes on to note that Serra employed Indians as teachers, and the missionaries taught them various skills and trades: masonry, carpentry, painting, how to sell and buy animals, spinning, knitting, and sewing.

“The bill before Gov. Newsom is the product of disinformation promoted by Black Lives Matter and other left-wing activists. It is propaganda, not scholarship,” Donohue asserts, urging the governor not to take part in this smear campaign that insults “millions of Catholics, not only in California but all over the world.”


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