The clergy sexual abuse crisis is over. Thousands of victims, children, women, and even men have suffered rape and harassment at the hands of their pastors. Even worse, they have also been subjected to intense spiritual abuse by hundreds of priestly predators and their enablers to keep these heinous crimes secret. As some of the first to come forward and speak out publicly against these offenses, survivors deserve to be honored. What happened to us should not, must not be forgotten, for only by solemnly remembering and marking those ordeals, can further abuse possibly be prevented. This memorial will be a silent but enduring testimony and a reminder that it should never happen again.
What do we do now?
We, the clergy abuse survivors who came forward, are weary veterans of a long struggle. And what do veterans do? They put up monuments so that future generations will know what they endured and sacrificed. They make lasting statements in carved stone and cast metal to honor those who fought as well as the ones who fell along the way. They mark them with eternal declarations of why that struggle was so important.
For memorials have power. As dictators everywhere know, public statues can even legitimize monsters — which is why they’re always the first things pulled down in revolutions. The recent controversy over Confederate memorials in the South show how statues can embody causes, even failed ones, which can still ignite passions even centuries later.
The Church knows this, too, and that’s why the world is filled with the statues of their saints and popes. But not of their victims. Not of the young innocents led to the slaughter, and the few who tried to save them.
So why don’t we build one?
I call upon all clergy victims and survivors, their supporters, and people of good will, to come together and design, plan, fight for, and construct a monument in honor of victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
What I propose is a traditional bronze statue set upon a stone plinth, with inscriptions or plaques on the base. The ideal site would be in the park next to the Cathedral in Santa Fe, or if unable, the Plaza or some other location nearby within eyesight of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi‘s towers. Somewhere around here in downtown Santa Fe.
Why Santa Fe?
- With the Servants of the Paraclete located here, New Mexico was a major epicenter for the clergy abuse crisis. Santa Fe is the closest city to their facilities and the Archdiocese actively conspired with them to let pedophile priests out in the community, first here then everywhere.
- Santa Fe is an international tourist destination and flourishing art colony. A monument in the center of town would get more exposure than just about anywhere in the US, plus there is a tremendous reservoir of local design talent, not to mention several bronze foundries.
- The name “Santa Fe” is Spanish for “Holy Faith”. The town is overflowing with Catholic art, icons, crosses, most in traditional Spanish Colonial style. Planting a monument in the middle of such an intense environment makes even more of a statement. Plus, the guaranteed controversy of trying to erect a clergy victims memorial close to the Cathedral will bring up the issue once again, maybe even nationally.
- Despite the Catholic aura of the “City of Holy Faith”, Santa Fe is also known as “The City Different”. Ancient resentments linger against the Church, and there’s a large but silent number of people who might be a bit tired of all the constant civic religious posturing. Plus, it is a haven for a number of rich, independent-minded Hollywood celebrities and others who also might be interested.
- As we all know, the Church is spinning their stories to lull people into thinking it the crisis over and will never happen again, which is a lie. A visual reminder constantly right in their face will help prevent this by forever warning the people. It would cement our legacy – literally. The clergy sexual abuse crisis was one of the first, the most universal and shocking. Our courage coming forward to speak our truth has emboldened all those countless other women and men to stand up, which is still going on stronger than ever. For that alone, our legacy deserves to be honored, and where better?
What kind of statue?
The final rendition should be decided by a committee of survivors. What I would like to see is a strong, stern-faced woman, defiantly glaring at the Cathedral while sheltering children clustered around her skirts. This image would graphically show not only how parental awareness can protect kids while fitting in with the local ambience. Powerful, instantly understandable, and moving, such a statue would not be overtly offensive, either, thus making aesthetic opposition by the Church that much more difficult to maintain.
But I’m open to other ideas and would never presume to actually do the actual sculpture. We could hold a contest among the many talented sculptors living in Santa Fe to generate publicity and interest that way, too.
How do we go about it?
To promote the effort, this website has been established to serve as the communal focus of the effort. In short order, there will be a Kickstarter page for contributions, but in the meantime research in costs, organization, plus legal requirements and how to get the project approved by the appropriate authorities needs to be done.
So who wants to help? Spread the word, think of ideas, figure out how to put it together? I’m willing to devote my remaining time on Earth to do this, but I can’t do it all alone, and it should be a collective statement on behalf of all victims. Coming together, we could make something outstanding of which we can all be proud when they lay us to rest.
WE CAN DO THIS!
WE SHOULD DO THIS!
AND IF WE DON’T, WHO WILL?