Thursday, May 15, 2014


We have been told from the beginning that the removal of Fr. Paul as pastor of Santa Barbara was necessary for the protection of parishioners, "especially the youth", and for the "safety of children."
By allowing him to work in the parish, you have exposed the children of the nearby school to a probable threat. (Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, letter to Fr. Paul Gofigan, July 16, 2013, Prot. No. 013-047) 
A school full of children is in very close proximity to the parish. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) students, Confirmation students and other youth groups are part of the parish. As the Archbishop clearly stated in his letter and was communicated to Father Paul, this is a serious matter which prompted him to act decisively. It was done with much prayer, with a review of the facts and with the ultimate consideration being the safety of our children. (Fr. Adrian Cristobal, Chancellor, Archdiocese of Agana, press release, July 22, 2013) 
You have caused grave harm to the parish by allowing such an individual with a publicly known record of sexual assault to work in the Church thus subjecting your parishioners, especially the youth, to a potential threat...There is absolutely no guarantee that the registered sex offender will never commit sexual assault again. Had he committed an act of sexual assault on church premises, the consequences would have been catastrophic. We cannot afford such a tragedy. (Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, letter to Fr. Paul Gofigan, August 20, 2013, Prot. No. 013-057)
So was the registered sex-offender the threat or was Fr. Paul? And so how has the removal of Fr. Paul as pastor made the people of Santa Barbara any safer? Is not the man still a parishioner? Does not the man and his family still attend parish events? Does he not still help out around the parish? 

Did the Archbishop issue a restraining order on him to keep him away from the parish? Are there now security guards at all the Masses to keep an eye out for him and make sure he has no contact with parishioners before or after Mass and that he does not loiter in the parking lot? 

In general, has there been any new policy from the chancery generated by this "very dangerous threat" where "grave harm" and "catastrophic" consequences were narrowly averted by the Archbishop's swift action? Are there no other possible threats in any of the parishes? Are there no other ex-cons who have returned to church? If it happened once it could happen again, couldn't it? 

Isn't it the height of irresponsibility, Archbishop, to perceive and address a possible "catastrophe", as you call it, in a particular situation, and not act promptly to address the possibility of similar catastrophes throughout the rest of the diocese with a policy measure? 

Where is your policy, Archbishop? What are the rest of us to do the next time we see a registered sex offender trying to sneak into Mass with his wife and children? What if we see him assisting at an event? Should we report him to you? Why have you not seen to the protection and safety of the rest of this diocese so that we too can be protected from registered sex-offenders? 

Or was this just about getting rid of Fr. Paul?

Go here for Part X

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