A Roman Catholic archbishop carried out an exorcism in northern California on Saturday morning where demonstrators had overturned an 18th-century statue of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra a few days earlier for racial injustice.
Unlike in films, real exorcisms are often solemn church rituals like on Saturday, which were supposed to drive away evil and defend Serra’s reputation.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco performed the ritual in front of about 150 devotees before celebrating a special mass in the Catholic Church of St. Raphael in San Raphael north of San Francisco.
Serra, who lived from 1713 to 1784 and was canonized by Pope Francis in 201
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The Church venerates Serra for bringing Roman Catholicism to the western United States, but critics claim he forced Native Americans to abandon their culture or face brutal punishment.
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“The experts in the field tell me that Latin is more effective against the devil because he doesn’t like the language of the Church,” said Cordileone after saying prayers in the official language of the Church.
Serra statues in Los Angeles and Sacramento were also destroyed by protesters.
San Raphael police said five suspects were arrested in connection with the vandalism.
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The statue will be repaired and returned to the construction site.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.