Saturday, August 31, 2013


An anonymous member of a neocatechumenal community recently posted a comment which we would like to address.

Anonymous - responding to an earlier comment that "Neo Masses are closed" - said: The "Neo" Mass is not by invitation only, everyone is welcomed.

Anonymous' response is correct and is consistent with Article 13, Section 2 of the Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, as approved  by Rome on May 11, 2008, and which states:
"The celebrations of the Eucharist of the neocatechumenal communities on Saturday evening are part of the Sunday liturgical pastoral work of the parish and are open also to other faithful."
Open also to other faithful
As with most church statements, a principle may be stated in a general sense but the practical aspect is left to local application. In this case, there seems to be some latitude in how the "open also to other faithful" is applied.

If the NCW liturgy is the equivalent of a Sunday parish Mass - as the Statute indicates by calling it "part of the Sunday liturgical pastoral work of the parish - then one could expect the schedule of NCW liturgies to be as public as the schedule of regular Sunday parish Masses.

However, this does not often appear to be the case, giving the impression that - despite the Statute - NCW liturgies are open by invitation only, which in fact makes them private.

It's easy to see how this particular point may have been a source of debate during the approval process for the Statute, and why there appears to still be an effort to keep the NCW liturgies as private as possible without violating the Statute.

The importance of the small community
The celebration of the Eucharist is the summit of the Christian life, and in the NCW, it serves an integral experiential function in the catechetical formation of its members (as it should with all Catholics, by the way). However, the other integral aspect of the NCW is the "small community" [Art. 13, Sec. 2]. By definition a "small community" must be closed, or at least admission to it must be controlled lest it no longer be "small".

Thus, the celebration of the Eucharist within the context of the small (closed) community is a critical element of the NCW, and one can see the tension between the stated desire of the Church that the Mass, every Mass, be an act of public worship, and the desire of the NCW to nurture its members within an intimate Eucharistic experience.

One can easily assume that there was some debate over this point during the approval process for the Statute, and one can also easily assume that the desire of the NCW to celebrate the Eucharist in a "small community" and yet not disobey the Church, is the reason for the "open" in principle but "closed" in practice nature of the NCW liturgies, or at least the appearance of it.

Liturgy with a difference
However, even if one were to attend the NCW liturgy, there would not be a feeling of belonging to the parish. There are some immediate and very large differences. First, the NCW liturgy is almost never celebrated in a church, the normal place for parish Masses, even if a church were available. Second, Holy Communion, the central communal act of the Mass, is distributed and received in a wholly different way.

There is also the different placement of the "sign of peace", but this difference isn't as jarring to the newcomer as the other two. There is also the issue of some very different music, but we won't address that here.

By the way, the "jarring" aspect of the NCW liturgy is most likely something members of the NCW would like newcomers, rightly, not to experience. This probably accounts for the reason the attendance of the general public at its liturgies is not normally encouraged by the NCW, preferring that there be a period of introduction to the NCW first.

Why not a church?
The reason most NCW liturgies are not celebrated in a church is because most churches have a dedicated altar in a sanctuary. NCW liturgies require the placement of a square table in the center of the celebrating community, and churches with immovable altars and pews do not facilitate this arrangement.

Thus we find the NCW liturgies celebrated in parish halls, homes, and other spaces that are more easily modified to accommodate the unique arrangement of the furniture in an NCW liturgy. There is also the desire to create an intimate worship experience as per the "small community" aspect of the NCW and obviously cavernous churches do not lend themselves well to that experience.

It should also be noted - though it is not referenced in the Statute - that the desire of the NCW to celebrate the Eucharist in small groups and intimate spaces is consistent with the general desire to resurrect the Church model as it was experienced in the early centuries of its existence, when the Church was yet an underground community of believers.

In our next post
In our next post (on this subject) we will address the placement of the "table" and the manner of distributing and receiving communion.

NOTE: If anything stated here is incorrect, you are encouraged to submit the correct information and we will post it. Other than the Statute, information about the NCW, especially neutral information, is hard to come by and we're doing our best with what is available. Thank you for your understanding.

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Friday, August 30, 2013


August 28, 2013 was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I  HAVE A DREAM" speech and the news is full of remembrances. Here's a different one.



Martin Luther King, Jr. was pursued, tracked, bugged, surveyed, spied on, etc., not by "evil white Republicans", but by the most esteemed Democrats who have ever lived: the Kennedy's. They never found what they were looking for: ties with King to the Communist Party. However, they did turn up a rather full dossier of King's extramarital affairs. But then the Kennedy's couldn't really say anything about that, could they?

As an aside, King's affairs were (amazingly) confirmed and documented by his successor, Ralph Abernathy. They had already been reported, but Abernathy, perhaps in an effort to assuage his own guilty conscience for indulging in the same, wrote about King's affairs in an effort to explain them ("Martin and I were away more often than we were at home...Some men are able to bear such deprivations better than others.") He also went on to further "excuse" King's affairs because King was such an important person that "he attracted women in droves". Okay, so it was the women's fault. They couldn't control themselves. 

This is no slight against King or Abernathy. The sexual peccadillos of the Kennedy boys, all three of them, make King and Abernathy look like simple hormone driven high-schoolers. And at least neither King nor Abernathy left their girl friends at the bottom of a lake. 


Last month there had been a total of 347 page views of this blog (most of the action was on my other blog This morning there were 14,000. People are paying attention...and it's not to the "other stuff". Why? Maybe it's because no one has paid attention to THEM...till now. The numbers don't lie.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Matt Walsh makes an excellent point in his blog about the Miley Cyrus story: "grown men get a pass." Here's a few excerpts, but read the whole thing...and then stop supporting your cable companies which pipe that trash into your children's bedrooms.

"...pornographic sexual degradation and confusion are interwoven into virtually every facet of our society, so it’s a bit absurd to randomly erupt with shock and outrage at one comparatively minor manifestation of our collective cultural rot."

"... A 36 year old married man and father, grinding against an intoxicated 20 year old while singing about how she’s an “animal” and the “hottest bitch in this place.” And what happens the next day? We’re all boycotting the 20 year old. The grown man gets a pass."

"...I don’t want to talk about the Miley Cyruses of the world. Enough is said about them. I want to talk about the legions of cowardly, amoral adult men who graduate college and still carry on like frat boys well into their 60′s."

"These male pop stars and celebrities, look at them, you’ll think. They take advantage of emotionally broken, self loathing, confused young women, and they are rewarded handsomely for it."


People, even liberals, are up in arms over the Miley Cyrus staged porno show the other night, and worried about what effect such things will have on their children. Consider some of the classes your children are attending in college while eating up tens of thousands of dollars per year for "higher education". 

Nine examples just in North Carolina. Source link.

1. In the early spring semester of 2013, a women's studies professor and a psychology professor at Western Carolina University co-sponsored a panel on bondage and S&M. The purpose of the panel was to teach college students how to inflict pain on themselves and others for sexual pleasure.

2. At UNC Chapel Hill, there is a feminist professor who believes that women can lead happy lives without men. That's nothing new. But what's different is that she thinks women can form lifelong domestic partnerships with dogs and that those relationships will actually be fulfilling enough to replace marital relationships with men."

3. At Duke University, feminists hired a 'sex worker' (read: prostitute) to speak as part of an event called the Sex Workers Art Show. After his speech, the male prostitute pulled down his pants, got down on his knees, and inserted a burning sparkler into his rectum. While it burned, he sang a verse of 'the Star Spangled Banner.'

4. A porn star was once paid to give a speech at UNCG. The topic was 'safe sodomy.' After her speech, the feminist pornographer sold autographed butt plugs to students in attendance.

5. A few years ago at UNC-Chapel Hill, a feminist group built a large vibrator museum in the middle of the campus quad as a part of their 'orgasm awareness week.' I think that was probably the climax of the semester, academically speaking. But they certainly weren't too embarrassed to display a vibrator that was made out of wood back in the 1920s. 

6. A feminist administrator at UNC-Wilmington sponsored a pro-abortion event. During the event they sold tee shirts saying 'I had an abortion' to students who ... well, had abortions. 

7. The following semester, that same UNCW administrator sponsored a workshop teaching students how to appreciate their orgasms.

8. A few years ago, a UNCW English professor posted nude pictures of under-aged girls as a part of an 'art exhibit' in the university library. The Provost then ordered the nude pictures to be moved away from the library and into the university union. Not taken down. Moved.This decision was made after several pedophiles had previously been caught downloading child pornography in the university library just a few yards away from the location of the display. The English professor was incensed so she asked the Faculty Senate to censure the provost for violating her 'academic freedom.' The faculty senate sided with the feminist professor. The provost was later pressured to leave the university.

9. A different feminist professor at UNCW accused a male professor of putting tear gas in her office. She was later caught putting her mail in a microwave oven. She did this because she thought people were trying to poison her with anthrax and that the oven would neutralize the toxins. She was not placed on leave for psychiatric reasons. Instead, she was designated as the university's official 'counter terrorism' expert.

And the pornographic VAGINA MONOLOGUES continues to be produced annually at the illustrious "Catholic" university of Georgetown.



In the AP story “Not all are pleased with the pope’s revolution” (Pacific Daily News, August 2, 2013), reporter Nicola Winfield displays the type of template-reporting one often finds in the mainstream media when it attempts to report on the Catholic Church. 

(Read online version here or if link no longer works find a pdf copy here.)

Here is the link to the study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice as commissioned by the USCCB and referenced in the op-ed: 

The Causes and Context 
of Sexual Abuse of Minors by 
Catholic Priests in the 
United States, 1950-2010

Related links 

Following is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article, with sources, to the situation at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, California, the seminary for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The seminary is referenced in the PDN op-ed as "the Pink Palace". Note the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has paid out $660 million in damages so far for sexual molestation cases by its clergy and the cover up by its bishops. In March of 2013, the archdiocese agreed to pay out another $10 million to cover damages in four more cases.  

Of the approximately 625 St. John's graduates to be ordained by the Los Angeles Archdiocese between 1950 and 2005, 65 had been accused by 2005 of molesting the underaged, reflecting a rate higher than what studies have found for U.S. priests in general. A seminary spokesman noted California's then-extended statute of limitations on molestation lawsuits, and suggested that a wave of publicity on molestation by priests had made their graduates targets of such accusations.[10] Four days after the Los Angeles Times reported this information, the paper ran a letter to the editor from St. John's rector Helmut A. Hefner. He stated that reforms had been implemented in the seminary, and that from 1985 to 2005, of the 155 priests ordained at St. John's Seminary for the archdiocese, 2 had been accused of sexual misconduct.[11] 

Further, the lede to a 2002 Newsweek article entitled "Gays in the Seminary" opened by interviewing a recent alumnus: St. John's "may be one of the country's gayest facilities for higher education. Depending on whom you ask, gay and bisexual men make up anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of the student body at the college and graduate levels."[12]

As a side note, my father and I went to the chancery in Los Angeles in 1978 to seek help with a situation in our parish in which a pastor was not only involved in a homosexual relationship, but was supporting his lover with church funds. We were told to "get out".  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Bishop Silva of Honolulu has written one of the better arguments against the legalization of same-sex marriage, which is once again way making its legislative way towards law in the state of Hawaii. Silva clarifies the proper role of "discrimination" and outlines the practical consequences in a way few religious leaders have. 

Same-sex marriage is coming to Guam again soon. We would do well to pay attention to how other dioceses are confronting it. Read his introductory memorandum here and the full letter at the link at the bottom of the page.


SO, "Anonymous" asks: "why is every other post now about the Neocatechumenal Way?"

Let's see now, 3 of our last 10 posts were about the NCW and one of those posts was a clarification that we are not concerned with the Neocatechumenal Way.  And of the 72 posts on this blog, 5 are tagged NCW.

However, this is an opportunity to clarify that any discussion of the NCW did not begin with us, but with events already publicly known and reported on, namely K57's Patti Arroyo specifically naming the NCW as the underlying cause for Fr. Gofigan's removal, and the demand that a young man wishing to become a priest in the Archdiocese of Agana must attend the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, even if he is not called to the stated purpose and mission of that seminary.

These are public discussions. And we are continuing them here. And as expected, we are told (in love of course) to shut up and sit down.


This is a conversation that people have been crying to have for over a decade. And why have they been crying? Well, we weren't going to go there. But more comments like the ones from "Anonymous" will help us to think otherwise.



A copy of my response to a comment implying that this blog is "an arena of persecution" of the Neo-Catechumenal Way:

JungleWatch is not concerned with the NCW. IT IS concerned with the liberty of its clerics who feel free to rewrite the catechism to justify their aims. IT IS concerned with the liberty of clerics who feel free to disregard instructional norms from Rome (I have it on record). IT IS concerned with clerics who feel their authority trumps canon law.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013


In the Opinion section of today's edition of the Pacific Daily News, a reader named Diane opines against the Catholic Church, accusing us of idolatry, etc. You can read her letter here (it's the second letter).

This is a very common accusation and it would do Catholics well to not use anecdotes about pictures of your kids or some such metaphor in trying to explain why we honor and pray to Mary and the saints, but to use scripture to provide the basis for our practices. Following is my response posted in the comments section. 


Dear Diane,

Thank you for the opportunity to engage this topic. A few things. 

First, the bible does not number the commandments. In fact, within what we call the 10 Commandments, there are actually 13 or even 14 different directives. Different religions have grouped these directives differently. What you label the second commandment is part of the first commandment in the Catholic ordering. 

Second, if we are to take your interpretation of the passage, we would have to say that God violated his own commandment only a few chapters later in Exodus 25 when he commands the Israelites to make two statues, and not only make two statues, but place them upon the the holiest of all things, the Ark:

“Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the cover; make one cherub at one end, and the other at the other end, of one piece with the cover, at each end. The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, sheltering the cover with them; they shall face each other, with their faces looking toward the cover.” (Ex. 25:18-20)

And again, later in Numbers 21:8, God apparently disobeys his own commandment - as per your interpretation - when he orders Moses to: 

“Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover.” 

It’s interesting here, that not only does God command Moses to make a “graven image” - apparently forbidden by your interpretation of Exodus 20:4-5 - but then commands that people (bitten by snakes) should “look at it” and “recover”. 

Either your understanding is incorrect or God is very confused. However, I know that it is not “your understanding”. It’s what you’ve been taught, like so many others. But going on.

You say that the Vatican asserts that Mary is the “co-redemptrix”. Actually, the Vatican has not approved “co-redemptrix” as an official title for Mary. However, if it does at some point it would be no big deal. All Christians are to be CO - operators, CO - redeemers, in the sense that we are called to carry on the redemptive work of Christ. 

Mary’s role in bringing the Good News to the world is just a bit more special than the rest of us since God chose to be enfleshed through her. 

One final note is your confusion over the word “pray” which you take to mean “worship”. “Pray” means to “ask”. And Catholics ask Mary to pray for them: “pray for us now and at the hour of our death”. We ask her and the other saints (see the “cloud of witnesses” in Heb. 12:1) to pray for us in the same way I can ask you to pray for me. It’s just that, Mary’s prayers and the prayers of the saints are ever more powerful since as James tells us “the prayers of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). 

This verse implies that the more righteous one is the more one’s prayers will “availeth”. Nothing new there. We find the quality of petition and sacrifice dependent on the righteousness of the offerer throughout the Bible. 

Thus Catholics - and others who believe in the communion of the saints - do not limit their request for prayers to the dwellers of earth but include in their prayer circle the dwellers of heaven - where in Revelation we see them praying for us (Rev 5:8). 

There is much more, so if you would really care to know the truth of the Catholic Faith, join us on Monday nights at the Cathedral bookstore at 6pm for our study session. We would be glad to have you or anyone else with questions.


The recent ordination of former Anglican priest, Fr. Richard Rojas, as a priest in the Catholic Church, has given rise to several questions since Fr. Rojas is both a married man and a father of four. Perhaps in the future, with Fr. Rojas' help and permission, we may try to answer those questions on this blog. 

For now, we recommend this address by Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson who is the Ordinary (top guy) for the Anglican Ordinariate in the United States, which is officially known as the  Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Msgr. Steenson was personally appointed to this position by Pope Benedict XVI (now Pope Emeritus Benedict).

We also recommend visiting the official web page of the Ordinariate.

Monday, August 26, 2013


In a previous post, we made reference to the fact that the Redemptoris Mater is NOT primarily a seminary for the archdiocese of Guam, but is also, and equally, a seminary to educate and form priests for the international life of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. 

We made this observation based on the feature article about the seminary which appeared in the Guam Pacific Daily News of April, 2010 which stated:

"Our seminary has two main characteristics, namely, it is diocesan and missionary. The former refers to the fact that the priests formed here are for the diocese and, the latter to the fact that they are ready to go anywhere to fulfill the mission of announcing the Gospel."

There has been some feedback that our observation is incorrect and that despite the word "Missionary" in the name of the seminary, Redemptoris Mater is in fact primarily a seminary oriented towards the forming of priests to serve in the Archdiocese of Agana.

However, we must observe in return that we are only repeating what the article said. AND we also must observe that the mission of the NCW, in so far as we can tell, is deliberately international; and in fact, not only are priests being formed to be sent elsewhere, families are sent elsewhere as well. 

In fact, the article goes on to claim this: 

"Besides those two characteristics there is a third one, which the Pope together with the all the bishops have recommended for the good of the whole Church, namely internationality. Since our seminarians come from different countries around the globe this international nature can be clearly seen. This fact helps the seminarians to go beyond their own native language, traditions and culture, thus creating communion and a new missionary impulse."

This is all good. However, if it is true, Guam Catholics should be made aware that their financial gifts for the support of the seminary (Catholic Charities Appeal) are not only used to form priests for Guam, but for the international catechumenate. One report has those gifts - which go towards the salaries of those employed at the seminary and operational costs - averaging approximately $100,000 per year. (If this figure is incorrect, the chancery or the seminary is welcome to present the correct amount and we will publish it. )

As an aside, though, we would like to see the source document for the Pope and the bishops desiring "internationality". In fact, post-Vatican II, we have seen the opposite: a trend towards the ordaining of priests and consecration of bishops for service to THEIR OWN people, and a trend away from sending foreigners into mission lands. 

Thus, after centuries of foreign bishops for Guam, our last two bishops (post-Vatican II) have been from Guam. Should we - as per the supposed desire for internationality - expect to see soon an African or South American bishop as we are now seeing with our priests? Probably not, but if anyone has the document on the desire for internationality, please feel free to post the link in the comments. We'll make sure it gets top billing in our next post.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


The post about the young man, aspiring to be a priest, being told he must attend the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Yona or he has no place in this archdiocese, elicited a few emails relative to a similar ultimatum having been given to the deacon candidates a decade ago. 

The deacon candidates were apparently told that they must go through the Neo-Catechumenal Way to become deacons. The actual level of involvement was not specified. They were not forced to remain in the NCW and most chose not to continue after ordination.

There is some expectation that the same course through the NCW will be prescribed for the current class of diaconate candidates. According to one email, the diaconate formation program has been put on hold until each individual candidate can be interviewed, and at least one candidate expects to be given the same ultimatum as the prospective seminarian: serve in the NCW or there is no place for you in this archdiocese. 

Given that most of the deacons from the previous class departed from the NCW after ordination, it may be that the archdiocese wants to be sure the same thing doesn't happen again. Fr. Adrian Cristobal has replaced the deposed Fr. Paul Gofigan as the Director of Diaconate Formation. 

(BTW, if this isn't the case, Fr. Cristobal is welcome to refute the claim and we will gladly post his response.)


Meanwhile, some diaconate candidates may want to take a step back and consider a brewing controversy over the interpretation of Canon 277. The thought is that should this case make its way to Rome, either the law would have to be changed or married clergy would required to embrace continence. Most think that if the latter happens, continence would not be required of those already ordained, but would be required of all new candidates. I would not be addressing this except that the debate has been brought to the fore by Dr. Edward Peters, one of the most highly respected canon lawyers in the American church. Here are some posts for your review:

The obligation of perfect and perpetual continence binds all Western clerics

Canon 277 and clerical continence in the Roman Church

Why Canon 277 § 3 does not allow bishops to exempt clerics from the obligation of continence

Saturday, August 24, 2013



Perhaps yesterday's posts can serve as an unofficial poll. Previous posts related to the Chancery v Gofigan situation produced about 500 hits the first day they were posted. Yesterday's posts attracted 1500 hits....and some phone calls.

Friday, August 23, 2013


While rereading “A Miracle for Guam”, a special feature in the Guam Pacific Daily News published in April, 2010 about the origins of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Yona, I came across an item that caused me to recall a conversation with Fr. Giovanni Rizzo, who was then the Vice-Rector of the Seminary.

Fr. Rizzo had written a sub-feature for the story on the seminary entitled “A Milieu for a New Aesthetic”, wherein, he attempted to make the case for the placement of the altar in the center of the church, a feature unique to the Neo-Catechumenal Way. 

(For those who don’t know, the altar in NCW liturgies is usually a large square table placed in the center of the worship space and not in the front or at the head of the church as most are used to seeing.)

To make his case, Fr. Rizzo “appears” to quote the catechism stating: “....the Altar—that is at the same time the Cross, the place of sacrifice, the Lord’s table and the empty tomb of the risen Christ—is in the center of the Church [1182].”

Upon reading this, I sent an email (on 4/22/10) to the Archbishop and to another priest at the seminary who I knew well (I did not know Fr. Rizzo very well) and inquired about Fr. Rizzo’s addition of the word “in” to the Catechism text. 

Paragraph 1182 of the Catechism actually says: “The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord's Cross, from which the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center of the church...” (emphasis mine).

As you can see, the Catechism does NOT say the altar “is in the center of the church”, but that the altar “is the center of the church.” With anyone else this might have been a small matter. But because the NCW believes that the altar in fact belongs in the physical center of the worship space, this wasn’t just a matter of semantics or a misquote. It was a direct aim.

I did not hear back from the Archbishop or from the other priest I addressed, but was approached personally, a few days later, by Fr. Rizzo. His essential argument for including the word “in” was that it was a matter of interpretation, that I had not understood him, and that he had not quoted directly from the Catechism. 

I countered by saying that while he had not quoted the Catechism verbatim, he had in fact referenced the paragraph number [1182] , which made his “interpretation” appear to be authoritative. More was said, but to be polite, I agreed to disagree and we parted.

However, there was no question what Fr. Rizzo intended given the context of his article: a “new aesthetic”, which of course refers to the artistic arrangement of things to produce a desired effect upon the beholder. 

Rizzo confirmed this direction in his article as he went on to discuss the use of icons in the worship space - a matter which I also engaged in the email but won’t do so in this post (you can read the email here.)

In short, I was shaken by the incident. Rizzo was a canon lawyer and vice-rector of the seminary, a seminary responsible for the formation of priests: men to whom we look for guidance on matters relative to where we will spend eternity. 

And he was willing to alter the Catechism to serve his ends, or more precisely, the ends of a particular group within the Church which he has chosen to serve. And when confronted, had gone on to justify that alteration.

I only bring this up because so much is being said right now about the role of obedience in the Gofigan affair. Of course, Rizzo isn’t the first priest to take liberties with the Catechism. I run into it all the time in regards to birth control and even abortion. But we’ll save that for another time. 

Meanwhile, we praise and thank God for priests who are faithful and do not lead the little ones astray.


The accusation by a certain FB "friend" that those who oppose the removal of Fr. Gofigan as pastor of Santa Barbara Parish (and also his removal as Director of Vocations and Director of Diaconate Formation) are being "disobedient" to the Archbishop, has provoked several responses. I am copying one of those responses below with the permission of the author who wishes to remain anonymous.


What does obedience mean? Does it mean to obey even if the directive of a priest, bishop, or superior is wrong? If a bishop tells a priest to take this woman(the priest is the confessor) and abort her child(the bishop is the father), should the priest obey? How about if a bishop tells a priest to steal divert money from his parish and give it to him? What if a priest discovers that a bishop has abused a child and the bishop orders him to not disclose this fact to anyone? These are extreme examples I know(or are they really?), but they illustrate that obedience cannot be blind on the assumption that God will not allow a bishop to err. God will allow it as he allowed Adam and Eve to err. 

The second reading of the Office of the Readings on August 15th states in part:

“God, who is all-knowing and all-wise, knows best what we should do to increase his glory. Through his representatives on earth he continually reveals his will to us; thus it is obedience and obedience alone that is the sure sign to us of the divine will. A superior may, it is true, make a mistake; but it is impossible for us to be mistaken in obeying a superior’s command. The only exception to this rule is the case of a superior commanding something that in even the slightest way would contravene God’s law. Such a superior would not be conveying God’s will.”

It is clear that “Only the doctrines and teachings of the Church are to be our sole guide and rule of our faith.” So, when a bishop knowingly violates Canon Law, which is based on the doctrines and teachings of the Church, should a priest be obedient still despite the bishop’s crime?

The Code of Canon Law is the codification of the policies and process established by the Church over two thousand years. It was codified in 1917 and revised in 1983. It governs the actions and administration of the Church, from bishop and down. It was constituted on the “doctrines and teachings of the Church.” Every canon reflects the wisdom and experience of the Church. To violate a canon is a crime under Church law. The Church, in its wisdom and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, codified a section on the removal of pastors as well as how a decree of removal is to be issued, all of this are to be strictly followed.  The commentaries clearly state that these canons were promulgated not only to prevent a bishop from abusing its authority(and therefore in violation of the very oath it took to protect and shepherd his flock), but to give priests and subordinates the opportunity and right to defend themselves and to report said abuses to a hierarchical superior.

Yes, we could say that a priest should be obedient and suffer the ignominies and injustices of false allegations and unjust sanctions by a bishop, but how does that fulfill God’s will if the bishop’s actions clearly violates Church laws and teachings? It may be good for the bishop, but I think not for the priest and the Church. In the history of the Church, heresies promulgated by bishops were challenged and defeated by priests who later became saints and even Doctors of the Church. To not fight evil and to allow it to happen is worse than if you were the perpetrator of the evil deed itself. If priests had spoken up (they looked or were told to look the other way) about the sexual abuses going on around them, and on the subsequent cover-ups perpetrated by their bishops and cardinals (e.g. Cardinals Law and Mahoney), the lives of many young boys and their families would not have been destroyed. Yes, God allowed it to happen, as he has allowed any of us, including bishops, to do evil, but God will never condone it. God never condones evil or sin, and I think that when we see evil or sin being perpetrated, it is incumbent upon us as Christians not to be obedient.  

Should Fr. Paul have simply acceded to the demand of the Archbishop to resign knowing full well that the demand of the Archbishop was not only unjustified but illegal under Church law? Should a priest be disobedient if instructed to stay quiet, or look the other way, of a bishop sexually abusing a minor? Or, if that bishop is violating Church law? I think blind obedience does not fulfill God’s will but destroys it.

Fr. Paul Gofigan spoke the truth, and if the truth humiliates the archbishop, then so be it. The truth should never be denied, and no archbishop stands above the truth because the truth is God. Jesus spoke the truth and he was crucified because of it.  The truth cleanses and perhaps the Gofigan affair will help cleanse the Church in Guam.


A few days ago, we referred to the "targeting of a young man" from Santa Barbara parish. No names, but in short, the young man was told that if he wanted to be a priest in the Archdiocese of Agana he would have to attend the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Yona and could not go off-island for his priestly formation - as was his wish and as others have done before him. 

This would seem to make sense. Prior to the establishment of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Guam in December of 1999, the archdiocese had no seminary and had to send men desiring the priesthood to seminaries in the states. Now that we have a seminary on Guam it can be expected that men who wish to serve the Archdiocese of Agana should be formed here. So what's the problem? 

On the surface, the issue appears to be that the Redemptoris Mater Seminary is uniquely related to the Neo-Catechumenal Way and that the young man does not want to be a priest in the Neo-Catechumenal Way. But there is something else.

The Redemptoris Mater Seminary is NOT just a seminary for the Archdiocese of Agana.  It is in name, definition, and objective,  a "missionary" seminary. The full name is REDEMPTORIS MATER ARCHDIOCESAN MISSIONARY SEMINARY OF GUAM.

Priests formed in this seminary are not formed specifically for the Archdiocese of Agana but for an international itinerancy consistent with the goals and objectives of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. They must be "ready to go anywhere" as stated in a 2010 special section story of the Guam Pacific Daily News.

Normally, diocesan service and missionary service are two very different callings. One seeks stability, the other itinerancy. Should one desire to be a missionary priest, he would seek out any one of a number of missionary orders. If a man felt no such calling "to go anywhere", but felt the call to serve in the diocese of his birth - as many have - then he would seek admission to a seminary which would form him for service in his diocese.

However, the Redemptoris Mater Seminary pretends to do no such thing. It is specifically NOT a traditional diocesan seminary. It is a MISSIONARY seminary. This is a good so far as one is called to be a missionary. 

True, all the baptized are called to be "missionaries" in a sense, but not all are called to leave their homes and embrace the life of an itinerant. Yet, to be formed in the Redemptoris Mater Seminary would require exactly that.

Certainly, every priest should "be ready to go anywhere",  and may, at any time, be called upon to do so. However, specifically seeking to be formed as an itinerant missionary is  - at least traditionally - another matter. (Perhaps "traditionally" is the real issue here, but we'll save that.)

We do not know why the young man in question is not amenable to attending the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. However, what IS known is that the Redemptoris Mater Seminary does NOT form priests specifically for service in the Archdiocese of Agana, but forms them for service throughout the world, and in fact, draws candidates from throughout the world. It is an international seminary with an international aim. 

There is everything good about such an aim. BUT, if a man does not feel called to serve internationally, does not feel called to be an "itinerant", but feels called to serve only his home and his own people, what is he to do? The nature and mission of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary is clear: it is "missionary". It is designed to form priests to serve elsewhere, even though their first station may be Guam.

Whether or not this is the quandary of the man who was told he has no choice but to attend this seminary if he wants to be a priest in the Archdiocese of Agana, we don't know. It could be said that no one is forced to serve away from Guam, but the clear objective of the seminary is that one must be "ready to". This is truly a unique feature of this particular seminary.

We will end here by restating that the missionary life, one that requires a life of geographic instability and itinerancy, is a calling, and a high calling at that. But it is uniquely God's calling. However, at least according to what we have heard for a while now, if a man seeking the priesthood does not accept this form of life, then he is not "called" to be a priest in the Archdiocese of Agana.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


A CLARIFICATION. The "Juan" or "John Bautista" mentioned in an earlier post is not the John Bautista from Barrigada, who teaches at (or has taught at) St. Francis School in Yona. The earlier post was scrubbed of the name - since the name of the person is not important anyway. It is expected, of course, that there will be blowback from my involvement in this controversy. My personal apologies to John Bautista of Barrigada. Will try to keep names out of this...except for the major players of course.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Previously it was noted on this blog that Fr. Gofigan had been removed from his post as pastor of Santa Barbara parish without an explanation. However, we have learned from parishioners that a reason was in fact provided and it was announced at every Mass on July 21. 

The reason announced was that Fr. Gofigan "had resigned". Of course, Fr. Gofigan DID NOT resign, which is why he is legally challenging his removal. So, if this was in fact what was announced, then the person responsible for requiring the announcement has perpetrated a slanderous lie on top of everything else. 

And apparently there is more going on between the chancery and Santa Barbara parish, and this time it involves the targeting of a young man. More later. But in the meanwhile, someone please recommend to the Archbishop that he acquire some decent counsel. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


As expected, this is going to get nasty. A Facebook "friend" posted the following comment on a post where I questioned Congresswoman Bordallo's Catholic credentials relative to her support of the pro-abortion Obamacare:

I don't understand why you would write opinions questioning someone's Catholic virtues when you at the same time question the Archbishops (sic) authority as (sic) the church on Guam.

I replied:

The Archbishop does not have authority over church law. He is required to follow church law the same as all of us. If he did not violate church law no canon lawyer would have taken the case for Fr. Paul. In fact, a canon lawyer has filed motion against the Archbishop's decision. It is not I who am questioning the Archbishop's decisions. I am reporting exactly what is happening. The Archbishop's decision is being questioned by Fr. Paul and his lawyer.

I actually replied further but I'm not going to post the remainder of the comment here as it has to do with a very serious incident which occurred during an interview on KOLG in December of 2005. I am not ready to make that public. But a few more challenges like John's could change my mind.

(However, I - and others - are still willing to cut the Archbishop some slack as it appears he is simply following the direction of his advisors. He wouldn't be the first leader to get bad advice. Hopefully he will do something about that soon though.)


Cathedral: Lima, Peru

THE WORD ON THE STREET is that there was a call, last Friday, for a meeting of all pastors. But apparently it was cancelled Friday morning. We don't know why or what the meeting was to be about. It seems the motion to reconsider, submitted by Fr. Gofigan's legal team, is still being considered by the Chancery. 

Meanwhile, it remains unclear why Fr. Gofigan is still not allowed to say Mass. Perhaps someone from the chancery would care to clarify since this situation appears to be the main source of angst for the laity. 

Stripping a priest of his faculties is very serious business and normally requires that a certain form be followed. Consider this story of a cardinal stripping a priest of his faculties last year in Peru. The infraction precipitating the cardinal's action was the priest's apparently persistent public support of homosexual activists and his criticism of priestly celibacy. 

The point is that stripping a priest of his faculties, i.e. denying a priest the ability to function as a priest within a diocese, is usually an action taken in response to severe obstinacy to defined teaching on faith and morals, or in the case of priestly celibacy, a universal discipline of the Church. 

Fr. Gofigan's "infraction" does not seem to rise to this level, but in any case, the Archdiocese of Lima, in charity, clarified the situation publicly in order to prevent the further spread of scandal. Might we expect our archdiocese to do the same? We hope so.


Also on Friday, two lay people went to the chancery to deliver letters from their fellow laity expressing concern over Fr. Gofigan's dismissal. Upon arriving at the chancery they asked to see the Archbishop and were advised that he was on the phone. After waiting a while they were later advised that the Archbishop was not available. The two people then asked that the letters be stamped "Received". Each copy was stamped and initialed with the date and time of receipt written. The copies were scanned after the process was completed. The original copies were left at the chancery for the Archbishop. It is not known how many letters there were.



On August 17, 2013, the Pacific Daily News carried the news story BORDALLO: OBAMACARE WILL BE GOOD FOR GUAM. An OP-ED by the Congresswoman on the same topic was also printed in the same issue in the Opinion section: MUCH OF OBAMACARE APPLIES TO US.

Following is my online comment to both articles:

At the Guam Medical Society forum held last July (7/18/12), the panel of insurance providers confirmed that abortions would be funded through the exchanges (Specifically, it was Frank Campillio of Select Care). Over the course of several months, prior to and after the passage of Obamacare, I sent Congresswoman Bordallo several messages including a legal brief detailing exactly how abortions would be funded through Obamacare. She swore they wouldn't be. We now know that they are. The only question was whether or not Guam would have to set up the exchange. If we do, then we fund abortions, which is why many other states have opted out. Let's see what the "pro-life" Congresswoman Bordallo will do about this.

Here is the legal memo I sent her:

"Legal Analysis of the Provisions of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Corresponding Executive Order Regarding Abortion Funding and Conscience Protection,” issued by the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), March 25, 2010. [See it here.]



Thursday, August 15, 2013


The above page tab, CHANCERY V GOFIGAN, is a page containing links to all known publicly available documents and news stories relative to this issue. We note that we have received nothing from Fr. Gofigan himself. There is a wide network of support behind Fr. Gofigan which has relied on this blog to keep the information current and the story straight. This is important because we believe this issue should not be left to hearsay or left to be filtered through the media. If you are aware of other stories or documents not posted here, please feel free to forward to

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


There are some who believe that any challenge to a decision of the Archbishop is an act of disobedience. First, it must be established that there is a difference between a bishop speaking "authoritatively" in union with the Church on matters of faith and morals (such as condemning abortion), and administratively, as in the removal of a pastor.  

Church law authorizes recourse against administrative decrees, be those decrees be issued by a bishop, priest, or anyone else in an authoritative position: RECOURSE AGAINST ADMINISTRATIVE DECREES (Cann. 1732 - 1739). 

This is an important learning moment for all of us. More often than not, when we Catholics are offended by a pastor, we tend to lash back in destructive ways including leaving the Church. We do this because we feel we have no recourse, that we are simply stomped on and have no say. 

Too often people leave the Church over a dispute that could be resolved if they knew how to resolve it. Sure, we can say those people don't have faith and shrug them off, but is that the right way to handle an aggrieved and hurting person? Our Church thinks not, which is why she protects every Catholic by granting a right and a path to recourse against administrative decisions we believe to be unjust.

Let's take a look at this section of the Code of Canon Law:

Can.  1733 §1. Whenever a person considers himself or herself aggrieved by a decree, it is particularly desirable that the person and the author of the decree avoid any contention and take care to seek an equitable solution by common counsel, possibly using the mediation and effort of wise persons to avoid or settle the controversy in a suitable way.

Relative to the Fr. Gofigan case, the first question is whether or not the Archbishop, the "author of the decree" attempted to "avoid any contention" and took "care to seek an equitable solution by common counsel, etc...."

Fr. Gofigan thinks not. According to him, there was no opportunity to "seek an equitable solution by common counsel," and no "effort of wise persons to avoid or settle the controversy in a suitable way." 

According to Fr. Gofigan, he was called in on July 16 and the letter laying out the charges and demanding his resignation was read and then handed to him. He was then told to respond. 

This account was verified by a press release from the chancery on July 22 which stated that the Archbishop spoke to Fr. Gofigan on the same day he was handed the letter demanding his resignation which - according to Fr. Gofigan and his defenders - hardly allows for "the mediation and effort of wise persons to avoid or settle the controversy in a suitable way."

We'll study this section more in the days to come since it affects us all. Meanwhile, if you'd like to read it for yourself, you can find it here

As for what happens next: Fr. Gofigan, through his attorney, is to submit his motion of consideration to the Archbishop asking that the decision be repealed, that he be restored to his office as pastor, that his name be cleared, and the damage done to his reputation repaired.

If Fr. Gofigan is not satisfied with the response and action of the Archbishop, the next step will be an appeal to the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome who has jurisdiction over the matter.


The canonical proceedings challenging the Archbishop's removal of Fr. Gofigan as pastor remain, for now, out of the public eye. But Fr. Gofigan's continued presence in the pews and not on the altar at Sunday and daily Mass is obviously NOT out of the public eye and has many Santa Barbara parishioners wondering what will become of him. 

For now it appears that Fr. Gofigan is being allowed to still live in the Santa Barbara rectory, but is reportedly not allowed to do anything else related to his being a priest. This situation cannot continue. At some point he will either be forced to leave or restored to his position as pastor, or perhaps some other compromise will be sought. Since the Archbishop has returned to the island, we can assume that the canonical proceedings challenging his decision to remove Fr. Gofigan have commenced. 

One bit of news that has surfaced is that Fr. Gofigan was notified by the chancery that he cannot appeal the decision to remove him since he was never formally removed. The basis of the chancery's position is that the letter given to Fr. Paul on July 16 only demanded his resignation but did not formally remove him. 

However, the public is already very aware that he has been removed as pastor via the aviso appearing in the following Sunday's U Matuna - the official organ of communication for the Archdiocese. The public is also aware that upon returning to the rectory after the July 16th meeting, Fr. Gofigan found the locks on the rectory changed, and that his priestly faculties to say Mass and to preach have been revoked. 

In legal language this is known as "ipso facto", or "by the fact itself". Even though there was no official document of removal as of yet from the Archdiocese - the demand for resignation notwithstanding - the fact that Fr. Gofigan was officially replaced, locked out of his rectory, and denied his priestly faculties, is an "ipso facto" removal, and a very public one at that. 

The initial anger amongst many parishioners and more generally among many of the Catholic laity seems to have turned mostly to sadness and bewilderment, and predictably so. From all accounts it appears that the chancery has acted imperiously and without regard for the laity.

Whether of not the chancery was within the canonical boundaries to summarily remove Fr. Gofigan as pastor is something the canonical appeal will determine. But meanwhile the people see a priest stripped of his parish and his priesthood - without warning - without explanation - and without any pastoral concern for how they might feel or respond.

So while the titans war, the people are shaken and suffer. This is the real tragedy. 

NOTE: Of course, Fr. Gofigan is not the first pastor to be arbitrarily dismissed from his post. But he is the first one to challenge it. More later. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013


As per a recent Facebook post, today, Sunday, August 4, will be the third Sunday Fr. Gofigan will prohibited from celebrating Mass. While the removal of Fr. Gofigan as pastor was quite public as per the aviso replacing him with Fr. Dan Bien, there has been no formal or public pronouncement from the chancery forbidding Fr. Gofigan to celebrate Mass.

According to canon lawyer, Cathy Caridi, J.C.L, at her website, prohibiting a priest from celebrating the Eucharist "is ordinarily made not only to the priest himself, but is openly addressed to the faithful of the diocese as well."

This is understandable. The bishop's ultimate responsibility is to his flock, and it is in fact "the flock" which should be put on notice if he has prohibited a priest from saying Mass in his diocese. However, there has been no such public notice and predictably many are asking questions.

In response to those questions, Fr. Gofigan recently stated:

"I originally approached the Parochial Administrator, Fr. Dan Bien, if he could give me something in writing regarding what I can do and what I cannot do. He contacted third Chancery who instructed him to tell me that I can only concelebrate and cannot preside nor preach. They refused to put this in writing." (Reprinted with permission.)
The celebration of the Eucharist, the "source and summit" of our Faith, is, for a priest, the very heart of his calling. It is THEE "priestly act". Prohibiting a priest from engaging in it is deadly serious business and the church has strict provisions relative to such a prohibition.

Amazingly, a validly ordained priest, a priest upon whom there is no known suspension, has been - according to Fr. Gofigan - prohibited from saying Mass via an oral message from an unknown chancery source and through a third party.

There may be more to it, but given the silence of the chancery on the matter, "the flock" is left to its imagination. If nothing else, the prohibition without proper notice is highly damaging and severely uncharitable to the flock - which is left wondering and wandering...and growing ever more angry.


A further comment from Fr. Gofigan in response to a supporter on his Facebook page:

I have been fasting and praying since all of this has happened but the worst fasting that was imposed on me by the administration is not celebrating the one thing that is the very essence of Christ's priesthood which is to confect the Eucharist and give re-present him to his people. I think this is the worst punishment that can ever be placed on a priest but as St. Paul once said, "Nothing can separate me from the love of God." 

Thursday, August 1, 2013


As the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the western world, canon law affects virtually every aspect of the faith life of over one billion Catholic Christians around the world. But, as Pope John Paul II explained when he promulgated the Code in 1983, canon law "is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, charisms, and especially charity in the life of the Church and of the faithful. On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy love, grace, and charisms, it at the same time renders their organic development easier in the life of both the ecclesial society and the individual persons who belong to it." John Paul II, ap. con. Sacrae disciplinae leges (1983) 16.

Learn more at


Two murderers granted parole - Guam Pacific Daily News, July 30, 2013

The Chancery v Gofigan affair appears to have been precipitated by a law which went in to effect in 2010, requiring persons convicted of a sex-related crime to appear on a public registry. The subject person who is at the source of the controversy appears to have been released from prison some years earlier since he had already been hired by the parish as early as 2008. Apparently his employment was not an issue until the new law went into effect and his name appeared on the sex-offender registry in 2010. 

Given the rationale for the sex-offender registry, one wonders why there is no murder-registry. Is murder any less of a crime? In fact, it is considered a worse crime, and rightly so.

Given the claim by the chancery that the presence of a registered sex-offender is a "probable threat" to parishioners and children, should the Archdiocese not be just as concerned about the presence of paroled murderers wandering loose about the parish as well? Should a pastor be allowed to hire a paroled murderer out of charity if the person could not find employment elsewhere? Or should a paroled murderer be allowed to volunteer at a parish?

To what extent can persons with a criminal past be allowed to participate in the life of the church? This is a question the Archdiocese must address, for its actions in this case expose the fact that the Archdiocese appears to have no policy for the reintegration of convicted criminals into its fold regardless of the crime. 

The Archdiocese in its press release of July 22 stated "We welcome and do not bar anyone from our Masses." This is fine, but then what other parish activities are registered sex-offenders, and for that matter any other persons with a known criminal past, actually barred from, and for what reason?

Given the limits implied by the press release, a registered sex-offender must leave the church grounds immediately after Mass and cannot even attend the parish fiesta. Of course this is absurd, but it illustrates the grave lack of foresight in establishing a precedent without a policy. 

Again, we can only assume, given its actions, that the Archdiocese is being very poorly counseled. And it is hoped that the Archbishop - despite his signature - was not made fully aware of the full extent of these actions or its canonical implications, and will pastorally resolve the matter upon his return from World Youth Day. We shall see soon.