PLEASE NOTE: The Garden of Forgiveness as outlined in the proposal presented here has been rejected by the community of Franciscans at Old Mission Santa Barbara (2010) and by the leadership (Definitorium) of the Province of St. Barbara, Oakland, California (2010).
SafeNet remains clear in its belief: The Garden of Forgiveness is an integral part of the healing process and a welcoming path to restorative justice for the Santa Barbara community in particular and the greater community at large. We are hopeful that the future will support this.
Healing the Wounds of Clergy Sexual Abuse: A Proposal
In the face of overwhelming and grievious wrongs, no matter the cause, certain considerations for personal healing can often be abandoned or never mentioned at all. The option of discussing forgiveness, as one example, can sometimes be perceived as an act of treachery in the healing process.
In their groundbreaking book, The Courage to Heal, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis write that: "Forgiveness is a by-product of the [healing] process, not the final reward." Any misunderstanding of the purpose and process of forgiveness--a process itself that requires the willingness to forgive and not the need to do so--can limit our choices and cause us to discard valuable transformative tools. In doing so, we risk mistaking a great strength for a sign of weakness.
The Garden of Forgiveness is a hopeful and ambitious project proposed and sponsored by SafeNet, a program of Instruments of Peace, a California non-profit. If successful, it will be the first garden of its kind inspired by survivors of clergy sexual abuse who made a willing choice to forgive their offenders and reconcile with the religious order that betrayed them.
This project is a grassroots movement with a global view. Its focus is on helping others to heal. Its goal is to raise awareness of forgiveness while raising $4 - 6 million in donations. When final plans are approved, SafeNet will vigorously pursue an inclusive campaign to secure the financial support of many individuals and institutions, both secular and religious. Please join us.
Learn more about The Garden of Forgiveness and how you can help.
To view and print a copy of The Garden of Forgiveness
proposal click here
To view a conceptual drawing of The Garden of Forgiveness click here