Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, California, is well-known as one of the loudest and soundest voices within the Catholic hierarchy in defense of traditional Catholic doctrine. And Archbishop Cordileone has two unique challenges: he leads the diocese located in the city that birthed the LGBT movement and in a state that is constantly attempting to erase Catholic heritage, all in addition to being the bishop to the pro-abortion Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
The prime example of these attempts is Saint Junípero Serra, an 18th Century Franciscan friar from Mallorca, Spain, who founded the mission system that eventually built the pueblo system, which eventually led to modern California. Progressives have torn down (via decrees, laws, or force) statues of Serra across the state for considering he is the face of genocide against Indians.
But Archbishop Cordileone thinks otherwise. He believes this is a pure black legend and, as Pope Francis said in his canonization, that Saint Junípero Serra should be considered “a founding father of the U.S.”
Archbishop Cordileone: Progressive criticism of Serra is mostly black legend
“Saint Junípero was the first evangelizer of California and really the father of what is the modern state of California in the United States. He established a chain of 21 missions, beginning in San Diego. He sought to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Indigenous population through education, through caring for them and establishing missions and schools and founding new Christian communities. So he really began building up the infrastructure of the state of California through the mission system,” Archbishop Cordileone told El American.
Thus, he believes that most of what progressive historians, politicians, and activists say about Saint Junípero is, in the best case, a misinterpretation of reality, and, in others, pure fabrication.
“This, in my mind, is absolutely a part of the black legend that is disparaging Spain. The Inquisition is a good example of quite a distortion of history because torture was used everywhere in Europe. The difference in Spain is that it was more restricted and more regulated. Even a physician has to be present during the tortures, it could only be used in well-defined circumstances and for no more than 15 minutes. Whereas in England, around the same time, anyone who spoke against the King was tortured and killed, drawn and quartered, hung within a breath of their life, cut down, disemboweled and their limbs cut off. And that included priests simply for celebrating Mass was an act of defiance against the King.”
That is why he believes Saint Junípero Serra became a figurehead of the black legend: “So the exact same thing is happening here with Junípero Serra. Certainly, by today’s standards, the missionaries probably took some measures of discipline against the Indians that we would not find acceptable today. But Junípero Serra was heroic in his defense of the Indians. It’s very well documented that St. Junípero Serra, when he was in Carmel, around 700 km north from San Diego, where he started, he was upset with the treatment of the Indians that he walked to Mexico City, to meet with the Viceroy to present to him a Bill of Rights for the Indians in California and obtained special faculties for the governance of the Indians.”
“Afterward, he was still upset about the way the soldiers treated the Indians. So when he had to ask for more soldiers, he requested soldiers who were married, that they would come with their wives and their children to minimize the abuse perpetrated against the Indian women. And this began the system of the Pueblo. That was really the beginning of what is now the modern state of California. So he is truly the Apostle of California and also the father of California,” Archbishop Cordileone added.
Moreover, Archbishop Cordileone says the black legend is just the old version of a well-known current phenomenon: cancel culture. “Ultimately, it’s about canceling out Western civilization. It’s about canceling out the Church, canceling out any semblance of Christianity. It started as the black legend against Spain and Catholicism, but now it’s more inclusive of all of Christianity because Christianity and the Catholic Church, in particular, are what built Western civilization. This has been going on for some time, so they need to change names. They need to rewrite history. They need to disparage the great heroes of history. So that’s what is happening now. It’s been going on for a long time, but it’s getting worse.”
Archbishop Cordileone on Nancy Pelosi and her defense of abortion
Catholicism has been in the political crosshairs this year because two of the country’s most notorious Catholics, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden, are also notoriously against a key Church social and ethical doctrine: the opposition against abortion. Moreover, the main discussion is whether politicians who support abortion and other positions contrary to Church doctrine should receive the Eucharist. Most bishops seem to incline to deny communion to such politicians, but how to handle the situation is still complicated.
“The Catholic belief has always been from St. Paul down to the present time, that one must be in a state of Grace, free of mortal or serious sin to receive Communion. Because the act of receiving Communion is not just a gesture of hospitality and belonging, but it’s a statement of accepting what Christ teaches through the Church and living one’s life in conformity with that. If it’s seriously not in conformity, then one needs to Grace the Sacrament of penance to be restored to being properly disposed to receiving Holy Communion. The question is, then, does a politician who favors aggressive abortion policy in a state of serious sin? They will the evil because if they’re supporting it in order to make abortion widely and easily available, so they should not,” he said.
“I began to ponder, what can we do beyond using words? So, in my deliberations and conversations, I came to this idea that we really need to pray and fast. Praying the Rosary, especially the Rosary, is a very powerful prayer. The Rosary has the power to change history. So I’ve launched what I call the Rose and Rosary for Nancy campaign, which consists of praying the Rosary and fasting on Fridays. People can sign the petition at Benedictinstitute.org and sign up to commit to the Rosary and fasting and then we will send a rose to Nancy Pelosi.”
The future seems bleak for Catholics and conservatives in California in the U.S. on the issue of abortion and cancel culture. Does that mean that Archbishop Cordileone does not want to see what the future brings? Not quite.
“The truth will eventually prevail. I don’t know how long it will take. I don’t know how much more damage will have to be done, but it will.”
“They claim to be pro-choice. But they don’t give the women any choice. How many women have said, “I did not want to go through with it, but I felt like I had no choice”? All we have to do is give women choice. Give them information about what’s going on inside of their body, how this is a growing little baby inside of her, and inform her what other choices she has of adoption or how she can raise a child herself and then give her the support to do that. All we have to do is give them accurate information, love and support,” he added.
“The answer to a woman in a crisis pregnancy is not violence, but love. Nothing could be more horrendously violent than an abortion.”