Gov. Jerry Brown appears intent on keeping a statue of Father Junípero Serra at the United States Capitol, suggesting this week that he will oppose an effort in the California Legislature to replace the statue with one of astronaut Sally Ride.
“We’re going to keep his statue in Congress,” Brown told Catholic News Service in an interview. “It's done as far as I'm concerned."
State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, has introduced legislation to remove Serra’s statue, one of two the state is allowed in the National Statuary Hall Collection. But with Pope Francis scheduled to canonize Serra during a September visit to the United States, Lara postponed the measure until next year.
Serra, who founded nine of California’s Spanish missions before his death in 1784, has been criticized for his treatment of Native Americans. In January, Brown called Serra “a very courageous man, and one of the innovators and pioneers of California.”
He said that month 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.”
California’s other statue at the Capitol is of Ronald Reagan, the former president and California governor.
Brown is in Rome for climate talks at the Vatican.