Wednesday, May 7, 2014

THE ILLEGITIMATE REMOVAL OF FR. PAUL GOFIGAN - PART VI: THE CHILDREN

Now, let's take a deeper look at what Archbishop Apuron says. Let's copy the charge here again (emphases mine):
You have allowed a registered sex offender, (name withheld), to return to work at the parish, even after you were warned by the Vicar General and the Attorney for the Archdiocese to release him. You disobeyed the order given by the Vicar General. By this action, you have in effect caused grave harm to the parish by allowing such an individual with a publicly known sex-offense record to work in the Church thus exposing him to your parishioners, especially the youth. By allowing him to work in the parish, you have exposed the children of the nearby school to a probable threat.
Now, why does the Archbishop say "especially the youth" and emphasize that the man is even a threat to a nearby school? The man's crime, in 1981 when he was 21 years old, involved an adult female. There is no record of his EVER having been a threat to children. So why now is he suddenly a threat to children? It's a theme the Archbishop desperately wanted to impart and we shall soon learn why. 

The "danger to children" theme is hammered yet again on July 22, 2013, when Fr. Adrian Cristobal issues a press release overtly emphasizing this danger to children. In fact, in the press release, the man is apparently ONLY a danger to children because no other group is mentioned:
...especially in light of the painful lessons the Church and all of society have had to endure in recent years – and still endures – we must abide by standards that will safeguard all children in our care. As Jesus teaches us, the youngest are among the must vulnerable among us and great care must be given to safeguard them. 
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.
The chancery is obviously pounding a drum: the children, the children, the children. Before we get into why they are beating this drum, we have to deal with the fact that given the man's record, which had nothing to do with children, this is awfully close to bearing false witness. The man is being implicitly accused by the Archbishop and the Chancellor of a crime he did not commit, and they both KNOW what they are doing. 

Here we have a man who went to jail for what he did, was released after many years, got married and had two daughters, humbly sought to return to his church, asked to work as a church janitor so he could feed his family, and even obtained a police clearance to do so. And now he is drug out of this quiet life by the archbishop of the church to which he has returned, and is beaten and publicly smeared as a child molester. 

At first, it worked. The media immediately picked up that theme. The children, the children, the children became child molester, child molester, child molester...just as the chancery had planned. Why did they plan this? We'll get to that. 

There has been much criticism of Fr. Paul "going to the media." This has been used as a way to beat Fr. Paul up and make him look like the bad guy. However, the first person to "go to the media" was Fr. Adrian. Here's what happened.

At the meeting with the Archbishop of July 16, 2013, and after being ambushed as we have already detailed, Fr. Paul told the Archbishop and the Vicar General that he would be informing his parishioners of his removal and his intent to challenge it. According to Fr. Paul (through a friend because I have never spoken personally with him on any of this), the Archbishop and the Vicar General just stared at him. 

That weekend, Fr. Paul, even though he was already removed, did exactly what he said he was going to do, distributing a letter explaining his removal after all the Masses at his parish since he was not allowed to speak to his parishioners from the pulpit. 

The paper trail
Let's stop here and note something which has amazed many ever since this started: the paper trail. Obviously, JungleWatch has become "famous" because I "have the goods". The "goods" are the actual letters and documents relative to this whole mess. And how did I get them? It was easy. Fr. Paul, having nothing to lose, shared them with friends, and they quickly filtered out to others including me. (Fr. Paul himself has never given me a document.) 

But why was there even a paper trail to begin with? Had the Archbishop called Fr. Paul in and spoken with him as a father to a son - and as was required by Canon Law - there would have been no July 16 letter. And even if Fr. Paul had eventually challenged the Archbishop it would have been nothing more than "he said, he said". 

But the Archbishop doesn't talk with people. He sends them letters. And this is why we have all this evidence, not just about this case, but about the shenanigans with the RMS property, the firing of the finance council, the mess with Aaron Quitugua, and every other scandal. 

Because the Archbishop prefers to act as an authoritarian (rather than pastorally), he has created his own stew by giving the whole world a fairly damning paper trail. In fact, it was the Archbishop's own words, in writing, that gave Fr. Paul's advocate all the documentation and evidence he needed to prepare the appeal that has now gone to Rome!

And by removing Fr. Paul before the following Sunday, denying him the ability to address his parishioners in person, the Archbishop essentially forces Fr. Paul to be begin his own paper trail, since the writing of a letter and its distribution outside the church is all that is left him. And it was this paper trail that got to the media Monday morning. 

With the July 16 letter from the Archbishop and Fr. Paul's subsequent letter to his parishioners in hand, and listeners already barking on the radio about the whole affair, the media called Fr. Paul to get his side and Fr. Paul provides.

(Fr. Paul did NOT go to the media. They went to him. I know this because two of the media organizations called me get Fr. Paul's number. I didn't have it. They called me because - as you may know - they normally call me whenever any church business comes up they want comment on.)

At this point, someone smart in the chancery should have sensed danger and called Fr. Paul in to hash things out in private. But no, Fr. Adrian adds fuel to the fire, lots of it. He "goes to the media" by sending out a press release, a press release that ultimately proves damning to the chancery because it becomes, as we shall soon see, the "smoking gun" which allows Fr. Dacanay, S.J., Fr. Paul's advocate, to demonstrate that the Archbishop violated canonical norms in his treatment of Fr. Paul. 

As an aside, and another point of amazement, is: with a parish as large as Santa Barbara, the largest on the island, and Fr. Paul being as popular as he was, how could the Archbishop not think that this would NOT blow up in his face, especially given his slash and burn tactics? Was this just a strategic blunder...or did he just not care? But slash and burn he did, and then off to the party in Rio. Santa Barbara be damned. Kiko was waiting. Oh, and the Pope too. 

Go here for Part VII




Recommendations by JungleWatch