On Wednesday, Ron Trujillo, the president of the Caballeros De Vargas and a former Santa Fe city councilor, among other members, resigned amid threats from the high towers of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
During a meeting for the group, the Caballeros appeared to have the votes to send a respectful request letter to Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber asking to return the statue of Don Diego De Vargas back to them following a resolution previously passed by the group to do just that.
The statue was removed during the George Floyd insurrections happening across the country, where radicals restarted a race war in order to tear down sacred monuments, including the Soldiers’ Monument in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. At the time, Webber removed the De Vargas statue from Cathedral Park and stored it in a city worker’s back yard unprotected. Webber also let insurrectionists attack and destroy the ages-old downtown obelisk by telling his police officers to stand down. The First Judicial District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, let the rioters go free with no jail time — a move that was widely criticized, even by Democrat the former District Attorney Marco Serna.
Rev. Tim Martinez, the rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, who previously served as a chancellor for the Archdiocese, claimed during the meeting that the letter to Webber would threaten the Caballeros’ 501(c)(3) status. After the treasurer of the group told him it would not since the group is a 501(c)(4) organization and can do such activity, Martinez reportedly became hostile toward the organization.
According to Virgil Vigil, the president of the Hispanic fraternal group Union Protectíva de Santa Fé and a 37-year member of the Caballeros, Martinez “personally threatened” the organization “and stated that if they sent this request to Mayor Webber, the Caballeros would not participate in any church functions.”
Vigil writes, “This action by Father Tim Martinez is a strong indication he is [a] strong supporter and ally of Mayor Webber and his actions are positive proof of such. It is certainly heartbreaking to see a leader of the Church take political sides and not support the members of the Caballeros, Church, and City resident[s].”
The Church cares after La Conquistadora, a Marian statue housed in the Cathedral that was brought from Spain by Don Diego De Vargas. The statue holds centuries-old historical and religious significance to the Faithful of New Mexico and has survived throughout the years despite troubling circumstances.
Each year, the Church holds an annual novena, as promised years ago by Don Diego De Vargas, in gratitude for the peaceful reconquest of Santa Fe. The Caballeros were noticeably absent from the novena this year, which appears to be by design, since Rev. Martinez, as rector of the Cathedral, is responsible for the annual ceremonies.
In Trujillo’s resignation letter, he writes, “The ramification the Church was threatening was our beloved La Conquistadora would be taken away from the Caballeros.” He added, “I will not go down in history as the president who lost La Conquistadora as that is the direction that the church will take if the Caballeros send the letter.”
Following Martinez’s reported threats toward the Caballeros in defense of radical Democrat Alan Webber, he sent in a letter to the Santa Fe New Mexican apparently to cover his bases, writing, “The Caballeros de Vargas is a group of men who hold dear the traditions of the church and the traditions of Santa Fe…. They have served faithfully for many years with many of their members being lifelong servants of the community and of the church. I personally have observed them over the years and admired their devotion to the church through our blessed mother Mary. I continue to support them in their mission and look forward to being with them in prayer soon. I am in communication with their leadership and have every confidence that they will continue to be the beloved faithful servants they have always been.”
The apparently politically motivated letter and previous actions in defense of Webber by Martinez led Vigil to write, “I am of the opinion that Father Tim Martinez crossed a line which no Priest has ever done so in our City of Holy Faith. He is the first and we pray the last to hold this distinction.”
It is unclear if Archbishop John C. Wester has given Martinez the authority to withhold La Conquistadora and other Church functions from the Caballeros, but he appears to not have commented as of yet. However, Wester was a big proponent of taking away the annual Entrada procession, which radical left-wing groups took issue with.
At the time, Wester said, “From my point of view, it has to” change, Wester said in an interview with The New Mexican. “Obviously, there are parts of it that are difficult for some people — for many people, I would say — and so we need to look at that.”
He also said he would push to “get rid of any of those signs or symbols that cause pain for any of the cultures.”
“I’m going to say, ‘Let’s choose to celebrate an Entrada that celebrates all peoples and everybody can get behind and everybody can celebrate.’ That’s going to be my voice,” Wester said in 2017.
Archbishop Wester and Rev. Martinez can be reached here: