"What type of ministry you might take up in the future is open for discussion. And if it is your wish, I hereby release you from this Archdiocese to go and look for a benevolent bishop willing to accept you. This is effective immediately."
"It was because of your express desire to be released from the Archdiocese and your insistence that your release be written that, on the same day, the Archbishop edited the letter adding the words that he 'release[d] you from this Archdiocese to go and look for a benevolent bishop willing to accept you.' It was effective immediately." (Msgr. David C. Quitgua, Vicar General, letter to Fr. Paul Gofigan, August 2, 2013, Prot. No. 013-053)
"It was a reaction in anger and disappointment and it is disturbing to note that the Archbishop and his Vicar General should have taken this outburst at its face value. When a priest is told abruptly and from out of nowhere that he is being removed from his office as pastor, one does not expect a calm, rational and dispassionate reaction. In fact, the archbishop took this as evidence of volatility, which is extremely poor appreciation of human nature". (The appeal of Rev. Paul Gofigan in relation to his removal as Pastor of Santa Barbara Parish, A.N. Dacanay, S.J., Advocate)
- Fr. Paul is ambushed by the Archbishop and the Vicar General.
- They expect him to stick his tail between his legs and go into hiding the rest of his life.
- Fr. Paul unexpectedly challenges his removal.
- Realizing they have illegally removed Fr. Paul, the Archbishop and the Vicar General concoct a defense saying that he was not removed but only encouraged to resign.
- However, Fr. Paul has the goods on the chancery because the appointment of a parochial administrator is a de facto recognition that the pastor has been removed.
- The Archbishop and the Vicar General (and most likely the Chancellor) faced with the fact that they did not legally remove Fr. Paul and thus did not legally appoint a parochial administrator, now must come up with a justification for the appointment of the administrator.
In a letter to Fr. Paul dated August 20, Archbishop Apuron explains:
"Relying on your statements of your refusal to obey and your desire to leave the archdiocese, and because I was leaving the Island on July 19, 2013 for World Youth Day Pilgrimage in Brazil, I could not in conscience leave Santa Barbara Parish vacant so on July 17, 2013, I appointed a parochial administrator. I needed more time for discernment to appoint a pastor." (Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, letter to Fr. Paul Gofigan, August 20, 2013, Prot. No. 013-057.)
So why not wait until after the trip to Brazil so he could be here to handle any negative repercussions? For even if the removal of Fr. Paul was an emergency, the Archbishop had to know that the sudden removal of a much-loved pastor from the largest parish on the island was bound to send shock waves through that parish if not the whole diocese.
Regardless of the reason for the removal, the fact of the removal was a crisis waiting to happen. And a crisis DID happen. And the Archbishop was not here. But also once again, we see Neo business trumping the business of the rest of the Archdiocese. The "pilgrimage" was with members of the Neocatechumenal Way.
"When a parish becomes vacant or a pastor has been impeded from exercising his pastoral function and before the appointment of a parochial administrator, the parochial vicar is to assume the governance of the parish temporarily. If there are several vicars, the one who is senior in appointment or, if there are no vicars, a pastor determined by particular law assumes this governance." (Can. 541 §1)
Go here for Part V