Press Release, December 9, 2014

+ Concerned Catholics of Guam, Inc. +

 

For Immediate Release

For further information, contact:

  • Gregory Perez, president at 727-3233 or
  • David Sablan, vice president at 482-4647

 

December 9, 2014

 

Guam Catholics organize to investigate archdiocese

A group of Catholics from parishes across Guam have decided to formally incorporate as a non-profit organization to investigate problems with the Archdiocese and its management that have come under fire recently, and to address ways to improve the services of the archdiocese to the parishes throughout Guam.

The non-profit corporation organized to address major concerns and issues that have affected the Catholic faithful on Guam, with the objective of resolving the problems affecting the confidence and trust they have in their church leadership.

“Concerned Catholics of Guam, Inc. (CCOG) was established because many of the Catholic faithful are at a loss and confused as to what is going on at the Chancery,” said Greg Perez, president of the organization.  “A few of us would meet occasionally to discuss these stories about the Archbishop, priests who have been allegedly blamed for mismanagement of funds or alleged disobedience and then removed from their parishes, the lack of transparency with the finances of the Archdiocese, neglect of precious artifacts in the archdiocesan museum, among other issues.  We decided to do something about this, so we organized ourselves to address these problems and seek the best solutions possible to correct them.”  Perez further stated.

“These problems are serious,” said David Sablan, vice president of CCOG.  “I believe many of the faithful of the Catholic Church on Guam have lost trust and confidence in their church leadership.  They deserve to know the truth.  For example, we were told plausible reasons for the removal of two priests from their parish duties.  We found out later the way the archdiocese actually handled the removal of those two priests from their duties was shocking.  The due process rights of these two priests were ignored.  Reasons given for their removal were suspect.  Some of us question also why do we need two seminaries on Guam?  Do we really have that many vocations to the priesthood that warrant two seminaries?  How are these two seminaries being funded?  They should not be funded from the money people give to the archdiocese and the parishes throughout Guam.  They should raise funds and charge tuition and other fees to sustain themselves, but is this happening?” Sablan added.  “These matters are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.  Statements coming from the archdiocese cannot be relied upon, unfortunately, in light of all that has occurred these couple of years,” Sablan said.

“The group will be proactive in representing the laity of the Catholic Church on Guam.  They need a voice that will be heard on issues of concern to all,” said Evangeline Lujan, the secretary of CCOG, and a former volunteer at the Cathedral-Basilica national museum before it was closed by the archbishop at the same time Monsignor James Benavente was removed as rector of the Cathedral-Basilica, four months ago.

“We have read news reports of problems with the finances of the archdiocese; about mistreatment of members of the clergy, and how members of the neo-catechumenal way movement at the invitation of the archbishop have worked its way into the affairs of the archdiocese and some parishes throughout Guam.  Parishioners are wondering if their practices are in line with the precepts and rubrics of the Roman Catholic Church and their own statutes as approved by the Vatican.  We need answers and the truth to these troubling questions.” Sablan further added.

In addition to the management issues of the archdiocese, CCOG listed other objectives they intend to address per the attached list.

The officers of Concerned Catholics of Guam, Inc. are:

  • Gregory D. Perez, President
  • David J. Sablan, Vice-President
  • Stephen Wm. Martinez, Treasurer
  • Evangeline D. Lujan, Secretary

 

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2 comments for “Press Release, December 9, 2014

  1. Manny Cruz
    December 11, 2014 at 7:02 am

    One of the most serious questions that Archbishop Apuron has to answer is his plans to make the Church in Guam continue on a path to remain outside of the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. In July 1946, Pope Pius XII, at the recommendation of Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, had appointed Bishop Apollinaris Baumgartner, an American Capuchin, to replace Bishop Leon Angel Olano, a Spanish Capuchin, who was in exile in Spain during World War II. A number of the American Capuchins, who were serving in Guam before the war, were held prisoners of the Japanese in Japan, but were soon returned to Guam and assisted Bishop Baumgartner in organizing the Catholic Church in Guam. In addition to the Agana Cathedral, new parishes were established in Yona, Sinajana, Agat, Barrigada, and Dededo. Shortly after, Mercy Sisters from Belmont, North Carolina, and School Sisters of Notre Dame, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were invited to come to Guam to open two Catholic Schools: one in Agana and one in Yona. It was Bishop Baumgartner who saw the need to for a native clergy in Guam. He had already sponsored Felixberto Flores to attend the major seminary in Boston and had also sponsored several high school students to attend a minor seminary in Mountain View, California, and into the major seminary in Menlo Park, California. By this time, the Church in Guam had become the Vicariate Apostolic of Guam, under the Metropolitan Province of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. In 1948, Bishop Baumgartner invited the Stigmatine Fathers from Waltham, Massachusetts, to come to Guam to operate the newly-built local minor seminary in Tai. The school was named the Father Duenas Memorial Seminary, after Pale Jesus Duenas who was executed by the Japanese during the war. The high school students, who were attending the minor seminary in Mountain View, California, were returned to Guam to be the first occupants of the seminary. With so few seminarians and about seven priests as instructors, it was decided by Bishop Baumgartner to open up the seminary to allow day students to attend classes with the seminarians, making it necessary to make a change in the name to become the “Father Duenas Memorial School and Seminary”. It should be pointed out that all of the local diocesan clergy in Guam were products of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, with a few exceptions. At the same time, the Capuchin Fathers were recruiting their own seminarians, who later became priests and are now serving in Guam.
    In October 1965, the Vatican elevated the Vicariate Apostolic of Guam to become the Diocese of Agana, but still under the Metropolitan Province of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. This was to keep the Church in Guam under the American flag.
    In response to the growth of Catholicism in Guam and its vicinity, the diocese was further elevated to become a metropolitan see. The Archdiocese and Metropolitan Province of Agana were established on March 1984. The Metropolitan Province consisted of the Archdiocese of Agana, its suffragan sees of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa and the Diocese of the Caroline Islands, and the Prefecture Apostolic of the Marshall Islands. It was at this juncture that a change was made with the Vatican to find a way to have the Archdiocese and the Metropolitan Province of Agana elevated to allow Archbishop Flores to become a Cardinal of the Church. But, this could not be done, so long as Guam remains with the Catholic Church in the United States. It was then determined by the Vatican that the Archdiocese and Metropolitan Province of Agana become a member of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (“Conferentia Episcopalis Pacifici”), better known as C.E.PAC., and a member of the Federation of Catholic Bishops of Conference of Oceania, and out as a suffragan of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. In other words, Guam is no longer part of the Episcopal Conference of the United States. In the eyes of the Vatican, the Catholic Church in Guam is now considered a foreign entity.
    This is where the problem exists. This is why Archbishop Apuron can do what he wants with the Church in Guam. With the Neocatechumanate Way leading the way, he will turn the Church and parishes in Guam to be run with foreign priests, not with native priests of Guam. With all the priests being ordained in Guam for the Archdiocese of Agana, how can the Archdiocese support these priests as they are assigned to different parts of the world? You be the judge.

  2. Pascual T Artero
    December 19, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I agree with JSA – for Manny Cruz to hopefully research the evolution of the NCW in Guam.

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