Thursday, September 5, 2013


According to Facebook "buzz", Fr. Paul Gofigan has begun contacting parishes to let them know he is available to say Mass if coverage is needed. 

As per a post obtained second hand, Fr. Paul has received a copy of a letter from the Archbishop addressed to Fr. Adolfo Dacanay, S.J., the canon lawyer representing Fr. Paul, stating that Fr. Paul's faculties to carry on his normal priestly ministry, including saying Mass, were "never removed." 

Previously, Fr. Paul had stated that his faculties had been removed by the Archbishop, but that the instruction was only oral and had been transmitted through Fr. Dan Bien, the parochial administrator appointed by the Archbishop to replace Fr. Paul as pastor at Santa Barbara parish. 

With letter in hand, Fr. Paul shared on a recent post: "Now that I have that in black and white, I am calling several parishes telling them I am available for Mass coverage if they need someone. Pls spread the word." 

Fr. Paul also shared that the Archbishop's letter to Fr. Dacanay said there was never any "'Decree' vacating my office as pastor."

By that account then, Fr. Paul is still pastor of Santa Barabara parish. However, there is a problem: an OFFICIAL AVISO from the Archbishop installing Rev. Father Dan Bien as the Parochial Administrator of Santa Barbara. And according to Canon Law, a parochial administrator takes the place of a pastor.

Can. 539. When a parish becomes vacant or when a pastor is prevented from exercising his pastoral function in the parish by reason of captivity, exile or banishment, incapacity or ill health, or some other cause, the diocesan bishop is to designate as soon as possible a parochial administrator, that is, a priest who takes the place of the pastor according to the norm of can. 540.

Though the canon does not say it specifically, it is irrefutably implicit in this canon that a parish does not have both a pastor and a parochial administrator. 

Thus, Fr. Paul was removed "ipso facto" - by the fact itself - as pastor of Santa Barbara Parish by the clear fact that the Archbishop officially appointed a parochial administrator for the parish. In addition, according to Fr. Paul, he was also locked out the rectory which could certainly be construed as "exile or banishment." 

So, in fact, by virtue of the Archbishop's letter - at least as per Fr. Paul's post about it - Fr. Paul, despite being locked out of the rectory, and despite being officially replaced by a parochial administrator, has been neither exiled, banished, nor removed as pastor, and should not have to go about looking for opportunities to say Mass. He is still pastor of Santa Barbara parish and all of his faculties are intact. 

Are we to assume he will be on the altar this Sunday? If so, it seems he had better keep that letter in his pocket, at least for now. 

(Note: we were able to obtain a copy of the letter but decided not to post it - at least not yet - unless there is a demand for documentation. Also, let us hope, out of consideration for the Archbishop, that he is not the author of this confusion and that he has most likely delegated the handling of this issue to someone else at the chancery. However, if that's the case, we would urge him to find someone else...quickly. These are simply blatant canonical missteps which anyone can see.)


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