A statue of Junipero Serra, the Franciscan missionary who founded many of California’s early missions, is in danger of being removed from its place in the U.S. capital building.
The National Statuary Hall inside the capital includes two statues from each of the fifty states. California is represented by Junipero Serra and Ronald Reagan.
Despite the fact that Pope Francis will be canonizing Blessed Junipero Serra on September 23 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the California Senate has voted to replace the statue of the Spanish priest with a statue of Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space. The decision still has to be approved by the California assembly and the governor.
The Vatican has criticized the proposed banishment of Blessed Junipero. In an April 20 press conference, Dr. Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, observed that removing the statue on the eve of Pope Francis’ visit “would not be an extraordinarily nice welcome from a country that proposes multicultural tolerance.”