The latest story of statue removal will have you seeing red, especially if you’re Catholic

The latest story of statue removal will have you seeing red, especially if you’re Catholic

Statue Removal Fever has come to a California community, but this time the sticking point is not reminders of the Confederacy. Instead, the statues that were deemed offensive and that have already been relocated were of religious figures.

But what has local parents up in arms is where the statues have been removed from: The grounds of a Catholic school.

The decision to remove the statues, according to the Marin Independent Journal, was made after parents of prospective students visiting San Domenico School in the town of San Anselmo complained about the religious statuary.

Amy Skewes-Cox, who chairs the school’s board of trustees, defended the move, telling reporters:

If you walk on the campus and the first thing you confront is three or four statues of St. Dominic or St. Francis, it could be alienating for that other religion, and we didn’t want to further that feeling.

That other religion? Which religion could she possibly be referring to?

Understandably, parents are upset. Shannon Fitzpatrick, whose 8-year-old son attends the school, emailed the board of directors,  the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, and the head of school to voice her objection, writing:

Articulating an inclusive foundation appears to mean letting go of San Domenico’s 167-year tradition as a Dominican Catholic school and being both afraid and ashamed to celebrate one’s heritage and beliefs.

In our time here, the word ‘Catholic’ has been removed from the mission statement, sacraments were removed from the curriculum, the lower school curriculum was changed to world religions, the logo and colors were changed to be ‘less Catholic,’ and the uniform was changed to be less Catholic.

Cheryl Newell, who had four children graduate from San Domenico, is also quoted:

I am extremely disappointed in the school and the direction they’ve been going. This isn’t a new thing that they’ve been intentionally eroding their Catholic heritage. They’re trying to be something for everyone and they’re making no one happy.

According to parent Kim Pipki, whose daughter left San Domenico two years ago after graduating from ninth grade, some of the statues had special significance even to families who aren’t Catholic.

The one main statue that has everyone fired up is the baby Jesus and Mary one. It was at the center of the primary school courtyard.

Pipki said the school had a ceremony during which children would place a crown on Mary’s head.

It was less about God and more about passing on some traditions. People were shocked that the statues were pitched in the basement.

Representatives of “that other religion” could not be reached for comment.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.

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