California Lawmakers decided Thursday to shelve the plan to replace a statue of Father Junipero Serra with Sally Ride, longtime La Jollan and first American woman in space.
The decision was backed by Pope Francis’s planned visit in September to the U.S. Pope Francis plans to make Father Junipero Serra a saint during his visit.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara made the announcement and said he wanted to honor Ride for her scientific achievements. Having a statue of Ride would also make history. She would be California’s first woman and lesbian represented in National Statuary Hall.
Mixed emotions come from the delay in replacing the statue.
Serra has been accused by Native Americans of wiping out indigenous populations and forcing populations to suppress their culture. Native Americans support the statues departure.
Catholics have been pushing for the delay, commenting that it would be disrespectful to rid the U.S. Capitol of the statue.
Attempts to replace the Junipero Serra will have to wait until 2016.
Ride, who died in July 2012 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, was just 31 years old when she flew into space aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.