by Fr. Robert J Carr
There is a dispute going on between the Marin County District Attorney’s office and Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco.
First I agree with the Archbishop on certain things and I disagree with him on others in this and other situations.
On October 12, 2020, which in California is named Indigenous People’s Day but was formerly Columbus Day, Ines Shiam Gardilcic, Victoria Eva Montanopena, Melissa Aguilar, Mayorgi Nadeska Delgadillo, and Moira Cribben Van de Walker were arrested and charged with felony vandalism. They defaced a statue of St. Junipero Serra with red paint to represent blood and brought it down. Through a mediation effort of restorative justice, the charges were lowered to a misdemeanor and may be dismissed after a process that includes:
· Pay monetary restitution, an amount determined by the Marin County Probation Department, to the church for the repair or replacement of the statue;
· Complete 50 hours of volunteer work;
· Apologize in writing as part of the official court record;
· Participate in a community forum to be held in the coming months with a credible historian who will give stakeholders a chance to have a meaningful dialogue about the issue; and
· Stay off the church property.
Archbishop Cordileone complains that the charges should not have been reduced and the now-convicted activists should face the felonies that were the original charges. He does add that he does not want them to face jail time.
His excellency complains that the Archdiocese was left out of the restorative justice process and that the mediator treated the accused, now convicted activists, as victims. According to the district attorney’s press release, the process included members of the “church”. The press release does not indicate how the DA’s office defined the word”church” or whether this meant parishioners of San Rafael parish or others.
The Archbishop believes that this action by the DA’s office is more anti-Catholicism from a country with a long history of it.