Defenders Of Guam's Embattled Archbishop Apuron Claim Nuns Lied About Seminary Property

Coadjutor Archbishop regained full control over disputed property

By Haidee V Eugenio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 21, 2016) – Guam's Carmelite nuns last week said Archbishop Anthony Apuron asked them to lie about the reason for their $2 million donation to the local church, but a group of local Catholics defending Apuron said that's not possible.

Mother Superior Dawn Marie last week said Apuron asked the nuns to lie by saying their anonymous donation was purposely earmarked for the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and the Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores Catholic Theological Institute for Oceania, which were run by the Neocatechumenal Way.

She said the Carmelites decided to leave Guam after 50 years because of the toxic environment, including the dispute over the seminary property and sex abuse allegations against Apuron.

Dr. Ricardo Eusebio, president of the I Familan Mangatoliku Siha Pari Si Apuron or Catholic Families for Apuron, on Monday said email exchanges between Apuron and the Carmelite nuns were clear that the donors were giving the $2 million for a seminary. Eusebio said the Redemptoris Mater Seminary was the only archdiocesan seminary on Guam at the time, and RMS’ relationship with the Neocatechumenal Way has been public, open and clear since the start.

Eusebio said there have been a “mountain of lies” hurled against Apuron and the Neocatechumenal Way.

The Neocatechumenal Way is a movement within the Catholic Church, but whose practices and beliefs conflict with those of a majority of the Catholics on Guam.

Apuron, a member of the Neocatechumenal Way community, now is facing a canonical trial over multiple allegations of sexually abusing altar boys in Agat in the 1970s, when he was a parish priest.

Eusebio said Mother Superior Dawn Marie’s claim of a toxic environment has been fueled “by her own desire to seek public attention and provide her rendition of the truth in regards to the seminary.”

“She attempts to discredit Archbishop Apuron and deems him guilty in regards to the sexual abuse allegations against him without a trial. My recollection of the truth is substantially different from what she professed,” Eusebio said.

He also said a subversion of Apuron’s moral authority has occurred from within the Catholic Church, where a few organized vocal groups, along with some clergy led by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai have neither addressed the issues nor supported Apuron’s moral authority.

Pope Francis placed Apuron on leave starting on June 6 over the abuse allegations.

Hon was sent to Guam temporarily, and on Oct. 31, the pope appointed Apuron’s successor, Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes.

Byrnes last week signed documents, taking back full control of the Neocatechumenal Way-controlled seminary property in Yona and cutting the seminary’s ties to the Neocatechumenal Way.

Apuron had signed a deed restriction, allowing the seminary to use the Yona property indefinitely, and had ignored the pope's orders to end the deed restriction, Hon has said.

Eusebio said the Yona property has always been an asset of the archdiocese.

“There was no truth to the accusations and threats by various organizations and individuals that the property was ‘given away’ to the Neocatechumenal Way by Archbishop Apuron and alienated from the Archdiocese of Agana. The Archbishop of Agana remains its owner, with full authority and jurisdiction. This authority includes dissolving the boards as he has demonstrated,” Eusebio said.

Eusebio said the pro-Apuron group is happy that all the lies involving the loss of property in Yona, among other things, have been revealed for what they are: lies and calumnies.

“The property was never alienated, the authority of the archbishop has never been challenged and the new archbishop coadjutor, with a simple stroke of his pen, demonstrated the toxic nature of this gigantic mountain of lies,” he said.

Eusebio was a member of the RMS Corporation board of directors, which Byrnes replaced, with only Byrnes as the director, chairman, president and secretary.

Eusebio said he would like to have an audience with Byrnes to tell him about the board’s important function as advisors to Apuron. He said if Byrnes asks him to serve again on the board, he would oblige.

The Catholic Families for Apuron was formed in September. Eusebio said the group will not be taking any legal action over the seminary property.

Pacific Daily News
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