Archbishop John C. Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe demonstrated great courage and moral determination in releasing a list of clergy convicted of sexually abusing children. It is an important step in the healing process for victims, whose lives were irrevocably changed and damaged by priests they trusted.
It is a step every archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church should take.
As Wester noted in a letter sent to the public Tuesday (Sept. 12), he did not take this step lightly. He must balance the need to acknowledge the harm caused by pedophile priests and prevent them from damaging any other children. At the same time, he must protect the rights of clergy members who are accused.
In releasing the list, Wester may help those who were abused as children and fearful that the church would not take them seriously. His actions tell them he does hear them and is listening.
He will need to go further. He needs to explain why some priests who’ve been accused were not on the list and what the church will do about them. Some people in Taos believe there are priest names missing from the list that should be there. Wester notes in his letter that “the list will be updated as new information becomes available.”
Three of the names on the list released by Wester served as priests in Taos County.
This has been a long, painful and destructive journey for the church and thousands of its faithful followers. Some of those impacted by childhood abuse live here in Taos. Now, as in the past, they will need the support and love of those around them in order to heal and move forward with their lives.
DOT should get creative
When the New Mexico Department of Transportation sprayed herbicides to kill weeds along State Road 68 through the Río Grande Gorge – near the river – residents in the canyon were rightfully angered.
Some residents met recently with state officials to express their dismay and concern. Spraying a toxic herbicide along a waterway to kill noxious weeds was dangerous and just didn’t make sense, even if the chemicals are approved by the federal government, residents told officials. They also offered alternatives, including their own labor, to cut weeds by hand if necessary to avoid the need for herbicides.
The state has a lot of leeway in this situation. Federal law gives the state the ability to devise its own noxious weed control program.
We say that the DOT should get creative. Take the residents up on their offer. Or how about working with youth organizations, such as Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, to hire seasonal workers to cut the weeds along the rights of way? These young people are used to hard work building trails and thinning trees. Or perhaps the state could hire parolees who are looking for jobs after they have fulfilled their sentences and need a chance to make a living.
We think there is a way forward in managing the weeds and we urge the state to find one that doesn’t include herbicides.