Clergy sex abuse settlements ends community garden

By Ryan Laughlin
September 27, 2020

[with video]

A nonprofit group that was trying to create a community garden in Albuquerque’s North Valley is back in square one after the land they leased was unexpectedly put up for sale.

"It was very discouraging,” said Cheryl Brasel, who lives nearby. "A community garden would really benefit the whole community."

Brasel was expecting the first harvest from the new community garden this year, but now the only new thing coming out of the ground is a ‘For Sale’ sign.

Back in January, KOB 4 interviewed Adrian Leyva about the Semillas de los Griegos Community Garden. For years, Leyva worked to turn a dirt lot that lies north of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church into something that could help feed the hungry.

Leyva secured grant money and negotiated a lease with the Santa Fe Archdiocese, who owns the land, only for the church to reportedly change course and put it up for sale. That’s because the church owes millions of dollars to survivors who were sexually abused at the hands of Catholic priests.

"I think it's unfortunate that the Catholic Church is in that situation, and they have to take away from their whole purpose because of what has happened,” Brasel said.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish sent KOB 4 the following statements about their decision to sell the land:

"Pope Francis acknowledges in Laudato Si’ that one of the goals of the universal Church and all religions is to promote the integral development of the human race, recognizing that true human fulfillment comes through proper stewardship of God’s creation and respecting the environment that surrounds us. Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish thanks Semillas de los Griegos for the work that they are doing “to promote the benefits of locally grown, organic food that is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and cost effective” and we are continuing to explore ways with them to direct their passion for our community and utilize the resources that we have been blessed with.

"The plot of land you’re inquiring about is part of the channeling injunction in the ongoing bankruptcy at the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.  The proceeds of the sale will hopefully be given to the survivors of clerical sexual abuse.  Our prayers are with all those affected."

For now, the view of the dirt lot will remain the same until someone buys it and builds.

"I think it's kind of contradictory that a church can't support the community because that's what churches are supposed to do,” Brasel added.


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