In the Appeal of Fr. Paul's removal which was sent to Rome, Fr. Paul's attorney, Fr. Adolpho Dacanay, S.J., concludes his investigation of the case with the following remarks (emphases mine):
3.5 This is a canonical procedure that has gone awry. In the process, canonical procedures were mangled, provisions of the Code were ignored, the attempt to correct the bungled process feeble, and in the meantime the rights of a pastor violated and his good name ruined. Even the constitution of the advisory body required by C.1742.1 is very suspicious. The concerns raised by the Archbishop could have been accomplished even without the bungled attempt at removal, therefore one really wonders what is the real purpose behind the move.
After a seven page review of the entire case, Fr. Dacanay poses the same question most of the Archdiocese of Agana has been asking even though almost everyone knows the answer. Everyone knows the answer because everyone knows the Archbishop's intention: to mow down any priest or deacon who stands in the way of The Way, and to intimidate into submission everyone else.
Of course, Fr. Dacanay is not really asking. He is tying the disregard for canonical procedure, something he clearly demonstrates in the seven-page appeal, to an ulterior motive, and formally placing it before the Vatican congregation who will hear the case. This is serious stuff: a bishop 1) flagrantly disregards canon law, 2) does so for a purpose other than what he states (lies), and 3) ruins a priest whose welfare he is personally tasked to protect.
This is evil. But I do not ascribe the evil to the Archbishop, at least not yet. It has been very clear to many for over a decade that in Guam "something wicked this way comes". Something or someone evil has got a hold of the Archbishop. Unfortunately, as we have long known, it is not difficult to get a hold of the Archbishop. But that is something he will have to answer for another time. Meanwhile, we need to get to the root of the cancer that is sickening this diocese.
Of course, we don't have to look very far. In fact, as the record increasingly shows, wherever the Neocatechumenal Way has gone, its "Kiko's" (to separate them from the innocent) leave a large swath of destruction and division. It's just that it is more plainly seen here because 1) we have the only bishop in the world who has submitted himself to the Kiko's, and 2) because of our small population and relatively insular life we see things and their effect more immediately.
Fr. Paul knew this was coming. In fact, every non-neo priest KNOWS this is coming! On April 12, 2008, Archbishop Apuron declared war on everyone who stood in his way...The Way. We can trace that declaration of war back to the public protest in front of the Cathedral on the occasion of the celebration of its 50th jubilee.
The Archbishop was publicly humiliated by the protestors who stood across the street from the in the full glare of the Media.* (Also here.) As they processed by, one particular neo-priest began shouting at the protestors. It turned ugly quick. And all this with all the clergy fully vested for the occasion as they processed into the Cathedral for the great celebration. Priests fighting with their own people in front of the Cathedral while the Nuncio and Cardinal looked on and the Archbishop looked away!
* See full text of article below.
The cause of the protest? Again, one has to wonder who is advising the Archbishop or does he just think that because he is the Archbishop everyone is just going to bow down? The cause of the protest was a letter issued by the Archbishop to three pastors ordering them to serve the Neocatechumenal Way or get out of the diocese. (The letters will be posted in an upcoming post. The names of the priests will be redacted.)
The letters were issued on March 28, 2008, just mere weeks before one of the most significant celebrations of the Church on Guam. Beyond wondering about the cruelty shown towards these priests, one wonders how the Archbishop could be such a poor judge of timing. This is what makes us think that either he is taking orders from someone or he is simply imprudent if not cruel all on his own. We prefer the former.
The three pastors had been invited to Guam from the Philippines to serve the people of Guam and had long since done so. They were much loved by the people they served. The Archbishop's demand to serve the Neocatechumenal Way or GET OUT was pure bullying. The people saw it and were horrified by it.
These were Filipino priests. They were not incardinated here, even though two of them had asked to be, and the Archbishop knew he could treat them like H-2 workers and he did. Their parishioners were outraged, and for the first time in the nearly 400 year recorded history of the Catholic Church on Guam, lay people publicly demonstrated against their bishop. And the Archbishop was simply not used to that sort of "photo-op"!
War was declared, and the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, the Archbishop's war machine, was shifted into overdrive. Archbishop Apuron would replace everyone and anyone with his homemade presbyters. It didn't matter that the men would be poorly formed. It didn't matter that even HE KNEW some should not be ordained. He needed numbers and numbers he got, funneling in as much as 20 times the number of seminarians per population capita than other dioceses, like Boston, which also hosts an RMS. And to top it off, he would make us pay for these presbyters. He would make us pay for the destruction of our priests and our own parishes.
As the parishes began to fall one by one, Fr. Paul knew it was just a matter of time. He knew that what had happened in 2005 and again in 2008, when the Neocatechumenal Way tried to insert itself into Santa Barbara, would be his undoing. He knew who the power brokers were and who pulled the Archbishop's strings. And he knew that by facing down those power brokers they would one day "get him".
Here is Fr. Paul's account of what happened (obtained via email through a mutual contact):
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.
And he didn't...until July 16, 2013.
* Permission was given by the Pacific Daily News to copy the full text of the article about the protest with the following credit:
This article was printed in the April 20, 2008, Pacific Daily News
Guam Catholic protesters say Apuron backs movement
Pacific Daily News Hagatna, Guam
Author: Palacios, Eric
Date: Apr 20, 2008
Start Page: A.3
Armed with signs and placards, a band of Catholics yesterday protested across from the Dulce Nombre de Maria CathedralBasilica for what they believe is a dividing of Catholicism.
Group members said the protest was not against the Catholic church, but rather the Neocatechumenal Way movement, which they said members of the clergy and Archbishop Anthony Apuron were promoting.
The Neocatechumenal Way "has the ultimate goal of bringing the faithful gradually to the intimacy with Jesus Christ and to make them active members of the Church and credible witnesses of the Good News of the Savior everywhere," according to its Web site.
But Toto resident Lou Bamba said that a person must be invited to attend a Neocatechumenate gathering, whereas the Catholic church freely welcomes anyone.
Bamba said her understanding of the Neocatechumenal convocation is that the group brings non-practicing Catholics back into the church, and converts non-Catholics into believers.
"It's creating a major division in the Catholic church," Bamba said. "The archbishop is personally involved in this Neocatechumenal movement, ... and we feel that it is dividing the three main family institutions that make up the Catholic faith the clergy, parish and biological families."
Go here for Part XIII
Go here for Part XIII