Thursday, May 8, 2014


I was asked to respond to this:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "WHO OWNS REDEMPTORIS MATER?" 

Please take note of Diana's statement saying that the Archbishop did not spend a single penny for the seminary! 

Dear Anonymous,  
If that were the case, then we would be getting men who are not qualified to be priests. I don't think the priesthood should be operated like a secular university. God gave us free will, and He wants men who want to be 100% in the priesthood because they desire to serve Him, not because they are trying to avoid paying back their education.  
Yes, it's very sad that people are not giving to AAA to support the Catholic Church. It is the Catholic Church they are hurting. Nevertheless, God is always with His Church and He takes care of her. God performs miracles. The RMS is a miracle in itself. The Archbishop acquired the RMS seminary without spending a single penny on it.

In the first paragraph, Diana is bashing Aaron Quitugua. I guess not only is "she" now Kiko-qualified to interpret the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, "she" is now the Kiko-Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese. In the first part of the second paragraph "she" is bemoaning the extremely poor showing for the AAA. We'll talk about both another time. For now, let us just address the statement noted by the sender:
The Archbishop acquired the RMS Seminary without spending a single penny on it.
Diana is just repeating what she's been told. This is simply another neo-yarn, the type of which is oft used to self-canonize the Neocatechumenal Way, e.g. something good happens, and" Oh Look! God is doing this. You see! God loves the Neocatechumenal Way! God loves Kiko." Of course, when something bad happens...well, you know what they do with that. 

But let's talk about this yarn. 

First some clarity. The Redemptoris Mater Seminary is a school that occupies the old Accion Hotel property in Yona. The Seminary does not own the property. The Archdiocese of Agana owns the property. (Or, at least we THINK that's the case!)

 RMS is constituted as a Guam corporation separate from the Archdiocese and is essentially a tenant, and a rent-free heavily subsidized one at that. So, to be accurate, Diana's statement should read:
The Archdiocese of Agana acquired the Old Accion Hotel Property in Yona without spending a penny on it. 
But that would still be incorrect, for the people whose "pennies" were used to BUY this property (yes it was "bought") would be very surprised to know that their pennies were not needed and that we got if for FREE! 

There is also another group of people who would be very surprised to know where the Archbishop got some of those "pennies" since their money was given for a different purpose. But we'll leave that aside for now. I want to address where this "seminary for free" idea came from.

It can be credited to Fr. Giovanni Rizzo, a former Vice Rector of RMS. In 2010, the Redemptoris Mater Seminary featured itself in a special publication section of the Guam Pacific Daily News. Fr. Rizzo wrote one of the articles for the feature, A Milieu For A New Aesthetic, and as Vice-Rector either wrote or approved the others, including the cover story, A Miracle for Guam, where the "free" statement appears:
Many prayers were raised to God so that He would give us a place, and indeed He did not delay in answering our prayers. He provided us with the building that is now our seminary, a previous hotel, built by Japanese, somewhat along the lines of a Spanish monastery. It was place too big for our little faith, but for God nothing is impossible. When God gives, He gives abundantly! Imagine, a property worth millions acquired by the diocese for free! (emphases mine)
So you see, Presto! Prayers were raised to God and Voila! A Seminary FOR FREE! Manna from heaven. Water from the rock. The Red Sea parts. A sign from God that the Kikos are the new "chosen people" following their pointy-bearded Moses in a new exodus away from the fleshpots of a pyramidical church where regular Catholics grovel in their unsalted ignorance and on to the promised land where they will forever dance around flowered tables to the strums of flea market flamenco. (And nothing against flamenco. I'm half Spanish.)

But of course there is no FREE seminary. It DID cost money, lots of it. And in addition to what the Archdiocese itself paid (some of it from those other sources), there were people who worked very long hours to locate and work with donors, and others who worked just as many long hours negotiating the purchase. 


People put up their money, time, knowledge, effort, and sweat to make this happen for the Archdiocese. And for what? Because they believed that this was to be a seminary for the Archdiocese of Agana for the formation of priests from and for this Archdiocese. Well surprise, surprise, surprise! 

We'll get into what the Yona property actually cost and where the money came from in much more detail in an upcoming series of posts. But let's go back to Fr. Rizzo and his "yarn". 

Unfortunately, this stretching of the truth to fit the Kiko narrative is a sad habit of many of the Kiko's. (Notice I said "Kiko's, not Neo's). But it is particularly disturbing when the one who engages in said "stretching" is a priest, a vice-rector of a seminary, a formator of new priests, and a canon lawyer to boot. And it is exponentially more disturbing when the subject matter stretched is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Last August I did a post recounting an engagement I had with Fr. Rizzo in 2010 about his article A Milieu For A New Aesthetic. I objected to his taking liberties with the Catechism to lend credence to Kiko's practice of relocating the altar (he won't call it an altar) to the middle of the assembly versus at the head which is the general practice of the rest of the Church. 

The post is copied below. The original post can be read here

While rereading “A Miracle for Guam”, a special feature in the Guam Pacific Daily News published in April, 2010 about the origins of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Yona, I came across an item that caused me to recall a conversation with Fr. Giovanni Rizzo, who was then the Vice-Rector of the Seminary. 
Fr. Rizzo had written a sub-feature for the story on the seminary entitled “A Milieu for a New Aesthetic”, wherein, he attempted to make the case for the placement of the altar in the center of the church, a feature unique to the Neo-Catechumenal Way. 
(For those who don’t know, the altar in NCW liturgies is usually a large square table placed in the center of the worship space and not in the front or at the head of the church as most are used to seeing.) 
To make his case, Fr. Rizzo “appears” to quote the catechism stating: “....the Altar—that is at the same time the Cross, the place of sacrifice, the Lord’s table and the empty tomb of the risen Christ—is in the center of the Church [1182].”
Upon reading this, I sent an email (on 4/22/10) to the Archbishop and to another priest at the seminary who I knew well (I did not know Fr. Rizzo very well) and inquired about Fr. Rizzo’s addition of the word “in” to the Catechism text. 
Paragraph 1182 of the Catechism actually says: “The altar of the New Covenant is the Lord's Cross, from which the sacraments of the Paschal mystery flow. On the altar, which is the center of the church...” (emphasis mine) 
As you can see, the Catechism does NOT say the altar “is in the center of the church”, but that the altar “is the center of the church.” With anyone else this might have been a small matter. But because the NCW believes that the altar in fact belongs in the physical center of the worship space, this wasn’t just a matter of semantics or a misquote. It was a direct aim.
I did not hear back from the Archbishop or from the other priest I addressed, but was approached personally, a few days later, by Fr. Rizzo. His essential argument for including the word “in” was that it was a matter of interpretation, that I had not understood him, and that he had not quoted directly from the Catechism. 
I countered by saying that while he had not quoted the Catechism verbatim, he had in fact referenced the paragraph number [1182] , which made his “interpretation” appear to be authoritative. More was said, but to be polite, I agreed to disagree and we parted.
However, there was no question what Fr. Rizzo intended given the context of his article: a “new aesthetic”, which of course refers to the artistic arrangement of things to produce a desired effect upon the beholder. 
Rizzo confirmed this direction in his article as he went on to discuss the use of icons in the worship space - a matter which I also engaged in the email but won’t do so in this post (you can read the email here.)
In short, I was shaken by the incident. Rizzo was a canon lawyer and vice-rector of the seminary, a seminary responsible for the formation of priests: men to whom we look for guidance on matters relative to where we will spend eternity. 
And he was willing to alter the Catechism to serve his ends, or more precisely, the ends of a particular group within the Church which he has chosen to serve. And when confronted, had gone on to justify that alteration.
I only bring this up because so much is being said right now about the role of obedience in the Gofigan affair. Of course, Rizzo isn’t the first priest to take liberties with the Catechism. I run into it all the time in regards to birth control and even abortion. But we’ll save that for another time. 
Meanwhile, we praise and thank God for priests who are faithful and do not lead the little ones astray.
Those who are just entering this fray sometimes feel that our points are trivial. But there is point after point after point, all of which continue to pile up into a massive concrete wall of division. We see yarns and stretching and "so what's" and insults and silence. And finally the people are speaking with their wallets, their closed wallets. You got the seminary for FREE? Great. Then run it for free. 

P.S. My fault? It's my fault that the AAA is a pittance. Sorry. This is what happens when there is no financial transparency. Other dioceses have long since made their finances an open book. Not this one. You might say that the silence of the chancery is finally being met by the silence of the people. There is no need for torches and pitchforks or even signs. Closed wallets will do. Anything else, Diana?

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