St. Junipero Serra Statue Vandalism Case

St. Junipero Serra Statue Vandalism Case

As many of you may recall, protestors trespassed on the grounds of St. Raphael Parish community in Marin county in 2020 prepared with ropes, chisels, and spray paint to first desecrate and then topple the statue of St. Junípero Serra, the first Latino-American saint canonized by Pope Francis.

In response to this felony crime at a house of worship, Father Luello Palacpac, pastor of San Rafael Parish and Mission, said “Whether you agree or disagree with the historic record of St. Junípero, no one has a right to trespass on a faith community’s sacred grounds to destroy property and even more importantly the symbols of its faith.”

To avoid a trial and come to a peaceful reconciliation, Archbishop Cordileone agreed with the District Attorney that restorative justice be pursued and that it take place prior to a trial, rather than, as it is usually done, after a verdict. In order that this approach represent true restoration, the Archbishop asked that certain conditions be observed, among which were a public apology by the offenders, repudiation of their action, acknowledging the harm it inflicted; a monetary restitution; and the presence of a credible historian at the conversation to ensure that the correct historical record be respected.

After nearly four years since the crime was committed, these conditions have not been met, and the Archdiocese is still waiting for justice.

Latest developments:

It is our understanding that certain individuals at St. Raphael parish are giving the false impression that they have something to do with the restorative justice process associated with the St. Junipero Serra statue vandalism case. We also understand from St. Raphael’s pastor, Fr. Lu Palacpac, that he has alerted parishioners that these individuals are not following his guidance and do not represent the St. Raphael parish community or the Archdiocese, which is responsible for engagement in this case.

Fr. Lu communicated with St Raphael parishioners that these individuals distributed materials after all Sunday Masses on April 7, 2024, related to the St. Junipero Serra statue vandalism case, inviting parishioners to participate in listening sessions. Parishioners should be aware that these proposed listening sessions have nothing to do with the official case and are being orchestrated by individuals who are ignoring the direction of Fr. Lu and in no way represent the Archdiocese’s position on this case.

In a 2023 letter to priests, Archbishop Cordileone shared that the mediator assigned to the restorative justice process in this case treated the perpetrators of the felony crime as if they were the victims and the Archdiocese the culprit. The mediator exhibited a particular animus against the Archbishop, preferring that he stay out of the process on the assertion that his involvement would make things too difficult. Given the biased actions of the mediator, the Archbishop could not trust that an honest restorative justice process would be accomplished, that the Archdiocese point of view be equally respected, and that honest restitution be made for the harm suffered by faithful Catholics. For these reasons, the Archdiocese withdrew from the restorative justice process in 2023 but did not exclude the possibility of restorative justice after a trial and is open to trying it again before a trial with a different mediator.

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