Thursday, January 16, 2014

THE PASSION OF THE PRIEST: THE REAL REASON FOR THE PERSECUTION OF FATHER PAUL GOFIGAN

The attempt to rid the Archdiocese of Agana of Fr. Paul Gofigan by Archbishop Apuron has mushroomed into a colossus of staggering, ugly proportions and incalculable damage to the Catholic community of Guam.

The great tragedy is that the whole matter could have been handled with a private request from the Archbishop to Fr. Paul, asking him to not allow Mr. Lastimoza to be present about the parish other than during normal parish activities such as Sunday Mass. 

Fr. Paul may have objected, but the evidence shows that he would have ultimately obeyed (Fr. Paul terminated Mr. Lastimoza's employment upon an order from the Archbishop in 2011).


But there is hardly a person who believes Mr. Lastimoza's presence about the parish was the real reason for the destruction of Fr. Paul. For nearly a decade, parishioners have expressed fear that their parish would ultimately end up like Barrigada, Chalan Pago, and other parishes that are in the clutches of the Neocatechumenal Way, with many Catholics feeling forced to find a new parish home. 

Dededo, the largest parish on the island was the prize, and the Archbishop and the leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way (one and the same), wanted it. But there was a problem: FR. PAUL. 

Fr. Paul knew he could not keep the Neocatechumenal Way completely out of the parish, but as a pastor, he COULD demand that they conform to liturgical norms. Two of those norms were 1) the Mass, the Eucharist, MUST be celebrated in a church on a consecrated altar, unless, as Can. 932 stipulates: "in a particular case necessity requires otherwise", and 2) the celebration of the Eucharist is a work of the whole church and can never be celebrated by a private group to the exclusion of the other faithful. 

Obviously 1) the regular celebration of the Sunday liturgy outside the church on a card table does not qualify as a "particular case" required by "necessity", and 2) the NCW practice of "closed masses" was blatantly in conflict with church norms. (If not actually closed under lock and key, then certainly closed by virtue of their time and location being unpublished and unknown to most of the "other faithful".)

Fr. Paul not only had a right to demand conformity with these norms, but a priestly duty to do so. And so he did. And now he is paying the price for doing what his bishop should have been doing himself.

Following is his account of two meetings with the Neocatechumenal Way AND THE REAL REASON FOR HIS PERSECUTION.

The Neo Visitation to Santa Barbara

It was around the latter half of 2005, just after I was appointed Parochial Administrator to Santa Barbara parish, when Fr. Pius Sammut, along with other leaders of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, paid me a visit to request to have the Way established at the parish.

My response to them was that they were more than welcome to come to the parish, but they would be required to celebrate their liturgies in the chapel (Santa Barbara has a chapel underneath the main church). In addition to this, I also told them that their Masses would have to be open to all parishioners. They weren't satisfied with this and so they left.

I don't quite remember the second time they visited, but at the third meeting, which happened sometime late 2007 or early 2008, I asked the parochial vicars at the time to be with me during the meeting. Those were Fr. Patrick Garcia, Fr. Joel De Los Reyes, Fr. Vito San Andres, and Fr. Eugene Santa Ana. 

Those representing the Neocatechumenal Way were Fr. Pius, I believe Fr. Pablo, definitely a tall woman named Patricia, and I can't quite remember who else was there. They once again asked about starting the Neo at Santa Barbara Church and my response was the same as the first meeting: 1) Yes, but all liturgies had to be celebrated in the Chapel and 2) their Eucharistic celebrations had to be open to all and not be exclusive. 

They weren't satisfied with this and the woman named Patricia literally slammed her fist on the table and stormed out. I am sure the parochial vicars present would testify to this. We were all taken aback by her response and were actually left speechless. We never heard from them again.

*****

Well, it appears Fr. Paul did hear from the them again. He heard from them on July 16, 2013 when he was:
1. Illegally removed as pastor
2. Relieved of his positions as Vocations Director and Director of Diaconate Formation
3. Banished from the Archdiocese of Agana

And he has been hearing from them ever since, courtesy of Archbishop Apuron, who has seen to to it that Fr. Paul's name has been ground into the dirt.

IT IS TIME, PEOPLE. IT IS TIME TO THROW OFF YOUR FEAR. A GOOD MAN  IS BEING TRASHED BECAUSE OF YOUR FEAR, YOUR INACTION, AND YOUR SILENCE. YOU THINK YOU'RE NOT NEXT? "FIRST THEY CAME...."

At the very least, let Rome know what you know!


16 comments:

  1. It would seem to me that if Fr. Paul was really the only obstacle to establishing the NCW in the Dededo Parish, the Archbishop, who is the Head Administrator of the Church on Guam, could have simply transferred Fr. Paul to another parish and replaced him with a Neo priest. Priest transfers are done all the time and no one really questions these decisions. The Archbishop has this authority and he does not have to provide any reason or explanation for making such a decision. Fr. Paul, who is a priest of the Archdioesce, would have to accept his transfer as it would be expected of him to be obedient to his Bishop. The Bishop, therefore, did not have to resort to the way Fr. Paul was removed.

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  2. You are correct about the transfer of priests. However, Father Paul held the office of Pastor. It is a canonical position and a pastor cannot be moved or transferred without the pastor's consent or without the canonical process for the removal and/or transfer of pastors as prescribed in Canon 1740 -1752. The Archbishop knows of these canons which is why he just didn't transfer him. Thus he looked for some trumped up charge. He knew he didn't have one that would survive the canonical process so he resorted to a threat he thought he could cower Fr. Paul with. It didn't work.

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  3. I was saddened to see Fr. Paul requesting for a written apology from the Archbishop. It seems that Fr. Paul was not satisfied with the oral apology. I used to have the utmost respect for Fr. Paul but when I saw the news release stating that he was not satisfied with the Archbishops apology, I now have a different view. I guess we all need to teach what we preach.
    It seems to me that no one is in the right anymore. Both Fr. Paul and the Archbishop have taught us great lessons through this ordeal.
    There definitely has to be a greater reason for the removal of Fr. Paul. I guess things will be revealed, I hope everyone is ready to reveal the skeletons in their closet.
    I wonder who was Fr. Pauls informant of the Slander in Manila. I can only assume it was another priest. I guess this will be revealed sooner or later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will see soon that Fr. Paul misspoke when he said "apology". The Archbishop offered no apology. He only said that what he said was taken out of context. Probably because Fr. Paul is such a good man he wanted to believe that it was an apology, but after the meeting, he realized there was no apology. Fr. Paul wanted it in writing because the Archbishop also owes Mr. Lastimoza, his wife, and his two daughers, an apology. Let's not forget that the Archbishop heavily implied that Mr. Lastimoza, a married man, was engaged in an extra-marital affair, same-sex or otherwise. The fact that you don't think he and his family is owed one is disturbing.

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    2. Anonymous at 11:50 am:
      I pray you don't always go after other victims the way you malign Fr. Gofigan for asking for a written apology!
      I also hope the fact that an archbishop participating in slander and gossip is not lost on you! That should be the focus of the story and on every persons mind. It certainly is on mine.

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  4. Patricia or what ever her name is, travels hand in hand with Sammut. They ate a team. Where thou goest I will go. Since the beginning of time this woman is his companion especially if new communities are going to be formed

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  5. I know Pat Cottman... the woman you named Patricia. She is a respectable person and I know she would never "slam her fist on the table and storm out". Now I know that you all embellish / exaggerate your stories. What a mess you weave Tim and Paul. I still respect you Fr. Paul as a man of God, and I pray for you.

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    Replies
    1. Then you will also have to call the other four priests present: LIARS.

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    2. And of course it is entirely funny that you consider the mere reporting of events, events I document, the weaving of a "mess" as if I am making it up. I normally don't allow ignorant comments, but yours was worth posting as an exhibit. Feel free to send more. Until I get tired of them.

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    3. Gosh Virginia. You may want to check and verify the story before you start assuming that it was embellished and exaggerated. I am sure many people know Patricia Cottman and find her agreeable but we all have the tendency to lose our tempers and I will not assume that Ms. Cottman is free from said vices.

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    4. Something to laugh about..Pius and Pat the next Kiko and Carmen

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    5. Yes, according to Virginia, the following priests are liars:
      Fr. Paul Gofigan
      Fr. Patrick Garcia
      Fr. Joel De Los Reyes
      Fr. Vito San Andres
      Fr. Eugene Santa Ana

      Delete
    6. More "attack the messenger" comments from Virginia.
      In all charity, it would be better to self-edit the context before pressing enter; the public WILL correct the record in reply.

      Delete
  6. I sent a letter to the Apostolic Nuncio. I pray to our Virgin Mother to intercede for us!

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  7. I, too, sent a letter to the Apostolic Nuncio. I pray he sees what the people on this island is going through, most especially with regards to our priests, and makes every effort to right the wrong! I pray the Holy Spirit guides him in his decisions.

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  8. If Mr. Lastimoza is the only reason, according to the Archbishop, that Father Paul has to be fired as pastor, why did the Archbishop also fire Father Paul from Vocations Director and head of the program to form the new deacons (see the Umatuna announcement last year.) How does the Lastimoza issue have any connection to vocations director and deacon program??? I don't get it. Archbishop just wants Father Paul to disappear completely. Go find another bishop. Why? Can't just be Lastimoza.

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