To review. After the initial attempt to get rid of Fr. Paul was exposed to be canonically illegal, Archbishop Apuron re-initiated the process of getting rid of him through the required canonical procedures, albeit with a modified charge: the supposed retaining of a de facto employee instead of an actual employee. Fr. Paul's canon lawyer first issued a motion to revoke the charges against Fr. Paul and when that failed, issued an official appeal which finally sent the case to Rome where it awaits a hearing.
At that point things were fairly cut and dry and in the hands of the proper authorities, and many people have criticized me for not letting it stay there. But it was not ME that did not let it "stay there", i.e. let it be handled by Rome and shut up about it. It was Archbishop Apuron who "did not let it stay there", and who himself took the issue to a whole other level.
For whatever reason, the Archbishop decided to bring up the whole affair in the midst of the Archdiocesan clergy retreat in Tagaytay, Philippines last October. With the case being handled by lawyers and Roman congregations, the Archbishop should have been the last one to say anything about it. Yet he did.
But he did not just speak of the case. According to Fr. Paul the Archbishop added some inflammatory details and sordid observations. In a letter to Archbishop Apuron dated 12/6/13, Fr. Paul quoted the Archbishop as saying to the clergy present at the retreat:
“...some people are wondering what is going on between the two of them that Fr. Paul is willing to sacrifice his priesthood for this particular man.”
The inference of a homosexual relationship did not escape those present. But just in case some thought they might have heard wrong, Fr. Paul also quoted the Archbishop as going on to say:
“...so many complaints were coming in about why was he still working there and why were they so intimate.."
At this point, as sordid, inflammatory, and grossly out of place as these comments are, the Archbishop was still welcome to his personal thoughts about the matter, but then he made a claim that was easily disprovable, which to those present, suggested malicious intent by the Archbishop:
"....because he had built a stairway up to his room, his room was on the second floor..."
Unfortunately for the Archbishop, it was well-known that the stairway had been there long before Fr. Paul ever came to Santa Barbara. So why did the Archbishop make this up? We see why he made it up in the next part of what he is reported to have said:
"...and he (Fr. Paul's friend) would come in the middle of the night with cases of beer and what not and stays there until the early morning...”
"Middle of the night", "cases of beer" (really "cases"?), and stay "until early morning"??
So it wasn't enough to disgrace Fr. Paul by firing him without due process. It wasn't enough to disgrace Fr. Paul by locking him out of his office. It wasn't enough to disgrace Fr. Paul by putting him out on the street. It wasn't enough to disgrace Fr. Paul by announcing his removal at every Mass. It wasn't enough to disgrace Fr. Paul by banning him from saying Mass. It wasn't enough to disgrace Fr. Paul by banishing him from the diocese. It wasn't enough to disgrace Fr. Paul by blacklisting him to other bishops.
No, now we have to go "Harlequin" on him and allege a homosexual love-affair and enhance the story with the building of a secret stairway, cases of beer, "cases" mind you, not just a six-pack, midnight rendezvous', and sexual orgies that lasted till the early hours of the morning! And all at a retreat for the clergy and coming from the mouth of the Archbishop to his priests and deacons!
At the end of this barely concealed porn-filled talk, the Archbishop is said to have asked his clergy to pray for Fr. Paul. If anything, the clergy now had a very serious reason, many reasons in fact, to pray for the Archbishop, as if they hadn't already.
The big problem was that up till this point, the Archbishop's actions against Fr. Paul were pretty much church matters. But with the ugly things alleged at the retreat, he had now made allegations against a layman, a married man with two daughters, and a man not subject to the silencing and bullying power of the Archbishop. This would push the case into the civil sphere. But we'll come back to that.
There were at least 30 members of the clergy at the retreat and word apparently quickly got back to Fr. Paul about what had transpired. Given the date of his letter to the Archbishop, 12/6/13, over a month later, it appears Fr. Paul gave the Archbishop's allegations some long hard thought before writing the letter which asked the Archbishop:
"Archbishop, your remarks have put me in a very bad light. I can only draw the worst of conclusions from your words “between the two of them.” Did you accuse me of a homosexual relationship with (name withheld)?"
"As you know, (name withheld) is married and that he and his wife have two daughters. Furthermore, did you accuse me of improperly using parish funds or resources to build a stairway to my room to further this relationship? As my predecessors and many parishioners can confirm, the stairway was there long before I was assigned to Santa Barbara."
Fr. Paul concluded his letter saying:
"Archbishop, perhaps these attacks are part and parcel of the “painful and arduous” experience you threatened that I would experience if I did not accede to your demand to resign, but it is my sincere prayer that you immediately set the records straight on this matter as these remarks are slanderous and defamatory. I would like both a retraction and an apology in writing."
As usual, the Archbishop said nothing.
How dare this impudent priest confront me in this way and with my very own words! What doesn't he understand about obedience? He is nothing but a servile dog to me. Sit down and shut up.
Of course those are my thoughts about the Archbishop's thoughts. But those thoughts are not hard to imagine given the Archbishop's actions of what we have all been witness to throughout these many months.
- Fr. Paul was treated like a dog when he was ruthlessly confronted with the demand to resign.
- He was treated like a dog when he returned from the meeting to find himself locked out of his office.
- He was treated like a dog when he was kicked to the curb and told to get out the rectory.
- He was treated like a dog when he was held up for public shame by being fired without an explanation.
- He was treated like a dog when he was stripped of his faculties.
- He was treated like a dog when the Archbishop did not respond to the motion to reconsider his removal.
- And he was treated like a dog when he was mocked, made fun of, and accused of building secret staircases to enable midnight trysts with a homosexual lover.
And for what? For WHAT is all this maliciousness?
Some people are beginning to wonder, Archbishop, some people are wondering WHO it is that YOU are willing to risk your OWN priesthood for as well as this whole archdiocese!
Go here for Part XIV