Church Prohibition On Guam Whistleblower Group Rescinded

Suspended Archbishop attempted to silence Concerned Catholics of Guam

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 17, 2016) – 

The whistleblower group Concerned Catholics of Guam is officially no longer a “prohibited society” in the eyes of the Guam Catholic church’s leadership.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana, issued a decree Thursday, June 16 rescinding Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s June 5 decree banning Concerned Catholics and its supporters from local churches.

Apuron issued the decree shortly before the Vatican clipped his administrative powers at the archdiocese in light of mounting allegations that he sexually abused minor altar boys when he was a priest at an Agat parish decades ago. Apuron hasn’t been charged with any crime.

Apuron’s ban on Concerned Catholics was supposed to go into effect June 14, but the archdiocesan leadership under Hon placed it under review.

Hon stated in his decree he rescinded and annulled Apuron’s decree “after seven days of consultation and reflection, with deep concern for the best interests of the Archdiocese of Agana, particularly for the promotion of reconciliation and deeper communion of all members of this particular church.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Dave Sablan, vice president of Concerned Catholics, questioned why it took so long to rescind “a bogus decree.”

“Archbishop Hon should have immediately rescinded that decree when he took over last week when he arrived on Wednesday,” Sablan said. “Instead he states that he is now doing so (rescinding the decree) ‘after seven days of consultation and reflection’--what does this mean? Was he hesitant to rescind it, thinking there could some truth in what Apuron was doing, but after seven days he has arrived at a conclusion now to rescind Apuron’s decree against CCOG?”

Sablan said the decree was a “desperate act to silence” the organization.

“This decree is libelous and ironically full of lies itself,” he said.

Concerned Catholics’ members have publicly criticized Apuron’s leadership for the past two years, beginning in 2014 when the organization called for financial transparency of archdiocesan finances.

The group also publicly questioned Apuron’s decision to sign a document that, according to Concerned Catholics, effectively shifted control of one of the Guam Catholic church’s most valuable pieces of real estate — from the archdiocese to a board of governors. Apuron was a minority member of the board.

That piece of real estate, the former Accion Hotel, which was once worth tens millions of dollars, is being used as a Neocatechumenal Way seminary for would-be priests who aren’t necessarily for Guam, according to Concerned Catholics.

The island’s Catholics have been divided for years between those who follow the Neocatechumenal Way movement and those who believe in older Guam Catholic traditions for Mass, burying the dead and other island traditions related to the faith.

Concerned Catholics has previously responded to Apuron’s decree that it doesn’t apply to the group’s members because the organization isn’t an official arm of the church.

The decree that Hon signed was co-signed by Monsignor David Quitugua, the archdiocesan vicar general, and Father Adrian Cristobal, chancellor at the archdiocese.

Dave Sablan, vice president of Concerned Catholics, said Quitugua and Cristobal are considered an extension of Apuron’s leadership, so he urged Hon to replace them as well.

Apuron has been on leave since the Vatican sent Hon to Guam.

Hon also rescinded a second decree that Apuron issued the same date he issued the ban on Concerned Catholics.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2016 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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