Concerned Catholics will meet with Vatican delegation

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CONCERNED Catholics of Guam confirmed that the group will be meeting with visiting Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Archbishop Martin Krebs and Rev. Tadeusz Nowak while the three Catholic church officials are on island for the week.

Concerned Catholics Vice President Dave Sablan said while the time and date for a meeting have yet to be finalized, the group is ready to present their petition and report to Hon, Krebs and Nowak.

“We will address issues of the clergy and how they are treated, the two seminaries … alleged mismanagement of the assets of the archdiocese … and the division in the parishes between those who follow the Neocatechemunal Way and those that don’t,” Sablan said.

Ultimately, the group is calling for unity, harmony and consistent teachings in the parishes on Guam. Sablan said that instead of unity, harmony and consistency, “there is a division with different Mass services for the regular parishioners and those who are in the Neocatechemunal Way group.”

Within the Catholic community, there is a divide that has caused disagreements among family members, Sablan said. “Some family members are at odds with each other as to which is the correct way to worship God,” he said. Neocatechumenal Way teachings differ from the traditional practices to the dismay of some local Catholics who want to continue their faith the same way they were brought up, he said.


One member, Tommy Tanaka, sent a petition last August to Archbishop Anthony Apuron asking that the Yona Catholic parish remain a Capuchin parish, not to include the practices of the Neocatechumenal Way.

Apuron is a member of the Neocatechumenal Way and has been publicly criticized by local Catholics over the last six months for his decisions as the leader of the Archdiocese of Agana.

Among those decisions was the removal of Monsignor James Benavente as rector of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica, the removal of Rev. Paul Gofigan as pastor of Santa Barbara parish and possible censure of Deacon Steve Martinez. Benavente, Gofigan and Martinez are not Neocatechumenal Way members.

Sablan said that more than 2,000 parishioners have signed the Concerned Catholics of Guam’s petition and more signatures continue to be added.

The group last week started a petition drive seeking support among Guam Catholics for their group’s mission and objectives. They will present the petition to the visiting delegation sometime this week. Sablan also said the petition will be sent to Apuron.

Amid controversies surrounding the local church and criticism of Apuron, Vatican officials have come to Guam to mediate between the clergy, members of the laity and various groups with the hope of bridging their differences.

Hon, Krebs and Nowak will be on island until Jan. 10. The archdiocese announced their trip on Dec. 18 and said the visit is a “pastoral visit.”

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