Wednesday, April 30, 2014

THE ILLEGITIMATE REMOVAL OF FR. PAUL GOFIGAN - PART I

On July 16, 2013, Fr. Paul Gofigan was called to the chancery where he was handed a letter by Archbishop Apuron demanding his resignation under canons 1740 and 1741 which establishes the reasons a bishop may remove a pastor.

Unfortunately for the Archbishop he chose to ignore the Code of Canon Law (cc. 1742 - 1747) which establish the process by which a pastor may be removed, particularly canon 1742 which instructs: "he paternally is to persuade the pastor to resign within fifteen days, after having explained, for validity, the cause and arguments for the removal."

Prior to giving Fr. Paul the letter demanding his resignation, there was no attempt on the part of the archbishop to fulfill this part of the canon. And in fact, not only does the archbishop NOT attempt to paternally persuade the pastor, he THREATENS him with a "arduous and painful closure" to his assignment.

The archbishop does not stop there, he goes on to effectively excardinate Fr. Paul telling him: "I hereby release you from the Archdiocese to go and look for a benevolent bishop willing to accept you." The archbishop then says: "This is effective immediately."

The problem for the archbishop is that canon law prohibits him from making "this...effective immediately." Canon 1742 requires the above noted "fifteen days" for the pastor to resign after the bishop has "paternally" attempted "to persuade the pastor" to do so.

And even then, the bishop CANNOT remove the pastor. Canon 1744 requires the bishop to give the pastor an extended time to respond: "If the pastor has not responded within the prescribed days, the bishop is to repeat the invitation and extend the useful time to respond."

Aside from the foregoing, the archbishop also skipped the very first step required in canon 1742 which requires: "the bishop is to discuss the matter with two pastors selected from the group established for this purpose in a stable manner by the presbyteral council at the proposal of the bishop."

The archbishop by his own admission did not fulfill this canon. Upon being confronted with his violation of Canon Law, the archbishop is forced to follow the norms for the removal of a pastor and in the Decree of Removal dated Sept 10, 2013, informs Fr. Paul of the date of the required consultation with the two pastors selected by the presbyteral council:
b) The required consultation with two pastors, Reverend Msgr. Brigido Arroyo and Reverend Father Jose Alberto Rodriguez, was held on August 12, 2013 (Prot. N0. 013-055).
Let's review. The consultation was required BEFORE the archbishop could even ask Fr. Paul to resign. The consultation occurred AFTER (Aug 12) the archbishop demanded Fr. Paul resign (Jul 16).

But the real tragedy here is not the skipping of the consultation with the pastors appointed by the presbyteral council. It is not even the skipping of the requirement to PATERNALLY persuade the pastor to resign. The real tragedy is that the alleged offense for which Fr. Paul was terminated had occurred two years previously and not a word was ever said to Fr. Paul about it.

When an employer, a good one, sees a problem with an employee, he doesn't build up a case against him for two years and then whacks him. He tries to correct the employee along the way and only when there is no other option is an employee let go. This is not just good business practice, it is simple human decency.

However, in the case of Archbishop Apuron and Fr. Paul, the archbishop is NOT just Fr. Paul's employer, he is Fr. Paul's FATHER. This is why canon law uses the word PATERNALLY. And this is the real tragedy. There was no attempt to engage Fr. Paul even on the employee level.

Rather, as we would later learn, the archbishop essentially stalked Fr. Paul for two years, building up a case against him, and then, violating all canonical norms, slams Fr. Paul to the wall with a demand for his resignation and tells him to go find another bishop which is the equivalent of telling a son to go find another father. And this is the tragedy. 

Go here for Part II







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