Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Well, how's this for ironic timing? On the flight home from World Youth Day, the Pope is reported to have said: "Sinners can be forgiven. Sinners can work at the Vatican. Actually, the Vatican staff is composed exclusively of sinners." 

Catholic columnist Phil Lawler goes on to report that the Pope then cautioned reporters against digging into the past misdeeds of their subjects; that approach is “dangerous,” he said. "It is also un-Christian; as Jesus offers forgiveness, so should his followers."

Ironically, Archbishop Apuron is also on the way home from World Youth Day, and upon arrival will have to decide what sort of sinners can be allowed to work, or even volunteer, in Guam's parishes.

I say "what sort of sinners" because apparently only sinners who appear on the sex-offender registry are to be barred from working or volunteering at parishes. 

The part about "digging into past misdeeds" being "dangerous" and "un-Christian" also resonates close to home since the offending person in the Gofigan affair committed his sole crime 32 years ago, which by most measures could certainly be considered a "past misdeed". 

Curiously, both the Pope and the Archbishop are dealing with issues regarding sex-offenders: one registered, and one alleged. 

The Pope was responding to the handling of one Msgr. Ricca, who was alleged to have a rather flamboyant homosexual past and whom Pope Francis had only recently appointed to a very sensitive Vatican position.

Though the Pope alluded to an investigation of Ricca which turned up "nothing damaging", it appears he was not unaware of Ricca's past because he then launched into a short lecture on the danger of digging up "the sins of youth". 

However, while Ricca may have been "younger", he was not a "youth" when, while serving in the Vatican diplomatic corp in Uruguay in 2001, just across the river from Francis' episcopal headquarters in Buenos Aires, his alleged tryst with a Swiss male became well known. (To read more on the affair see the full story here.)

The Pope's comments about the Ricca matter actually made "out of context" headlines just today with the press trumpeting something about the Pope opening up the church to gay clergy. Of course that's not what he said or meant but that's another matter. 

In any event, Archbishop Apuron will have to decide (or perhaps he already has):
  1. whether the sin committed by the registered sex-offender at the Dededo parish 32 years ago qualifies as a "sin of youth", 
  2. whether or not the chancery's digging into the "past misdeeds" of this said sex-offender was "dangerous" and "un-Christian", 
  3. and since "sinners can be forgiven" and "work at the Vatican", whether or not said sex-offender can be "forgiven enough" to work as a volunteer at Santa Barbara,
  4. and whether or not Fr. Paul Gofigan was harboring a sex-offender and endangering school children, or just doing what the Pope said Jesus would do and what his followers must do as well.
Hmmm. Ironic timing for sure.

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