Sunday, July 28, 2013

THE CHANCERY V GOFIGAN: THE SNAP ENDORSEMENT


The SNAP (Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests) endorsement of Archbishop's Apuron's actions against Fr. Paul Gofigan presents a curious irony. In 2010, SNAP was on Guam demanding the Archbishop's head. In fact, it was but one of several threats to the Archdiocese and specifically the Archbishop occurring at that time.

Senator B.J. Cruz' Bill 372-30 attempted to make Archbishop Apuron specifically and personally responsible for reporting child abuse or neglect and would have subjected him to a possible penalty of imprisonment up to 6 months and made him a third-degree felon.

The reason Cruz gave for introducing his vindictive bill was not due to the example of a Vatican "edict" as he stated in the bill's findings and intent, but because he was angry at the Archbishop for his opposition to the legalization of same-sex unions and the public blow-up that occurred as a result of a mistake-laden meeting between the clergy and several senators in the latter part of 2009.

Shortly thereafter, Senator Cruz introduced Bill 385-30 to lift the statute of limitations to facilitate the prosecution of sex crimes perpetrated on minors and, as has happened in the states, would have made the Archdiocese liable for every possible or alleged sexual transgression against minors going back decades. This could have potentially broken the Archdiocese financially or at least hobbled it for many years.

Both bills were timed with a visit to Guam by SNAP with Cruz having the Archbishop "dead in his sights":

"The problem with the church on Guam," said Cruz, "is they've had this technical 'nobody's been arrested and nobody's been convicted'.  But the more important question is in the 26 years that you've been archbishop of the Archdiocese, how many priests have you sent to therapy, how many of them came back and are still here in the parishes, how many of them have we offended and how many have you laicized?" (KUAM, March 22, 2010)

Cruz knew he had ammunition:

"Cruz claims he knows of a laicization of a priest last year that allegedly was sexually abusing boys in one of the parishes on island. " (KUAM)

In fact, the Archdiocese was then involved with the laicization of this priest and the only reason the affair did not blow-up publicly is because the families of the victim(s) and the Archdiocese both agreed to handle the affair privately.

SNAP did its best to get people to come out against the Archbishop, and given both of Cruz' bills, had they passed in their original form, could have cost the Archdiocese millions and possibly sent the Archbishop and other members of the clergy to prison.

In the end, SNAP was able to expose a couple of clerical misdeeds which happened long ago (and in one instance, elsewhere). And through a lot of hard work, Cruz' Bill 372 (now P.L. 30-218) was amended to delete the specific reference to Archbishop Apuron (i.e. "Roman Catholic Archbishop").

Bill 385 was dropped but the issue was taken up again in the 31st Guam Legislature in two bills: Bills 33 and 34. Bill 34 could have been very dangerous to the Archdiocese since it held "institutions", not just persons, liable for crimes against children. However, again, through serious efforts, the bill was amended to delete any reference to institutions, effectively taking the teeth out of the bill since institutions, such as the Archdiocese, could not be sued.

However, the whole episode brings to light a glaring contrast in which the way the priest who was laicized was handled and the actions taken against Fr. Gofigan.

It has been pointed out by many that whereas the priest who would eventually be laicized was dealt with privately (and with obvious pastoral care) and given more than one opportunity to mend his ways, Fr. Gofigan, at least according to the information that is now public, was not given an opportunity to plead his case, but was summarily handed a demand for his resignation, an action which was immediately made public by the publication of an aviso replacing Fr. Gofigan at his Dededo parish.

Obviously the glaring contrast between the treatment of the two priests by the Archdiocese has people scratching their heads and has prompted much discussion in the media about an ulterior motive - as noted in the previous post on this story.

There is also a postscript to the story. The priest who was laicized later sought to assist a parish as a CCD teacher. Apparently he was allowed by the pastor to do so. The Archdiocese, upon learning of the arrangement, asked the pastor to remove the former priest - who had been alleged to have sexually abused boys - from the program. The pastor apparently complied and that appears to be the end of it.

The short of it is this: Both Fr. Gofigan and the other pastor (who shall remain unnamed) allowed two different men to assist their parishes as volunteers. Both of those men had a record of sexual offenses, one against children and one against an adult. The pastor who allowed the man who had sexually abused children (relatively recently) to function as a volunteer was advised privately and quietly to remove him. The priest who had engaged a volunteer who had committed a sexual crime against an adult 32 years ago was publicly fired.

Thus more head scratching.






2 comments:

  1. According to press release from the Archdiocese in April 22, 2010, “At the conclusion of an investigation of serious allegations of abuse by Fr Raymond Cepeda, this priest was laicized in December 2009 and the case reported to civil authorities. ” The priest that was laicized did not have a criminal record---no arrests were made in his case. He is not listed in the Sex Offenders Registry nor was there any official letter from the Archdiocese indicating the laicized priests' status other than “He is not a Priest.”

    IF there were any settlement, the archdiocese should have disclosed that with the pastors to be made more aware. Unlike the man that Fr Paul was protecting was arrested and listed in the Sex Offenders Registry and the Archdiocese ordered Fr. Paul to Release him from employment.

    As the pastor or Employer, if therequired background check proves negative, one will not be hired because of his name listed in the Sex Offenders Registry. Both men did not have a record of offenses. One did.
    This issue here at hand is: Is there merit and cause to remove Fr Paul and was due process, according to Canon Law, exercised and followed. The tribunal will have to answer that question.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The devil relishes any opportunity to destroy Mother Church. This incident has fed the fire with SNAP supporting the Chancery's decision. (No surprise)

    Pray for the intercession of the Holy Spirit to guide our Bishop and the community of faithful in resolving this decision.

    ReplyDelete

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