San Francisco archbishop performs exorcism at site of toppled Junipero Serra statue

California
San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone conducts an exorcism on Oct. 17, 2020, outside of Saint Raphael Catholic Church in San Rafael. (Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone conducts an exorcism on Oct. 17, 2020, outside of Saint Raphael Catholic Church in San Rafael. (Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

The archbishop of San Francisco performed a short exorcism ceremony Saturday outside a church where protesters had earlier toppled a statue of Junipero Serra.

He said the ceremony was intended to drive out evil and defend the image of Serra.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone performed the ritual with some 150 supporters in attendance before holding a special Mass inside St. Raphael Catholic Church, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Serra was an 18th-century Spanish missionary priest and the father of the California mission system. He was proclaimed a saint in 2015.

Critics say Serra forced Native Americans to abandon their culture or face brutal punishment.

Several statues depicting Serra have been toppled or removed in California this year, including in downtown Los Angeles.

San Rafael police said officers arrested the five suspects in the vandalism and destruction of the statue Monday.

The protest was attended by an estimated 40 to 45 participants.

“During this incident and the subsequent destruction of the statue, it was considered that the statue could be replaced or repaired and that the importance of using sound judgment and de-escalation techniques was paramount to preventing physical interactions between officers and protestors,” police said in a news release.

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