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Los Angeles renames Father Junipero Serra Park

While Catholic leaders have made strong defences of St. Junipero Serra after a wave of vandalism and crime targeted Catholic statues and churches last year, political leaders in California continue to remove markers of the missionary whom Pope Francis canonized as the first Hispanic American saint.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Oct. 11 that the city would no longer call the park across from Union Station by its informal name, Father Junipero Serra Park. A statue of Serra had been in the park from the 1930s until 2020 when protesters toppled it amid racial tensions and claims the saint, who died in 1784, was involved in injustices of the Spanish colonial period. The park will be called La Plaza Park until a new name is adopted. 

The park is within walking distance from La Placita, the Church of Our Lady Queen of Angels, the city’s oldest Catholic church, which has elements dating back at least to 1814. Serra did not have personal links to the key landmark

“We all share the same mission, the mission that brought St. Junípero Serra to California — to share the good news of God’s love and to witness to his love through our actions!” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles had said on Twitter on Oct. 15, showing a historic drawing portraying friars baptizing an indigenous baby.

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