On January 13, 2014, after waiting more than a month for Archbishop Apuron to respond to his letter of 12/6/13 requesting the Archbishop to address his concerns regarding the defamatory and slanderous statements made at the October retreat for the clergy, Fr. Paul again wrote the Archbishop asking him to respond:
As of this date, you have not provided the requested retraction nor have you responded in any way despite having over a month to do so.
Your inaction leaves me no choice but to conclude that you either believe those slanderous statements to be true, or you do not consider my request worthy of response.
Your failure to retract those slanderous and defamatory statements leaves me no choice but to take steps to rectify your wrong and to salvage my name, which you have gone out of your way to ruin.
Please be reminded that you made those slanderous statements in front of thirty plus members of the clergy from both Guam and the Philippines at the recent Archdiocesan Retreat in the Philippines.
I can understand you holding to your position to remove me as pastor of Santa Barbara according to the procedures prescribed by canon law, but to publicly malign my person (and that of another parishioner and his family) in front of my fellow priests is simply malicious and mean.
I will allow you one last opportunity to make the requested retraction. You have until noon, Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014, to make the retraction in writing, and to give a copy of your retraction to every member of Guam’s clergy.
If you fail to do so, I will take action (including legal action) to salvage my name. I pray that it does not come to this.
Critics have cried "disobedience" since the beginning of this affair. According to them, Fr. Paul's pledge of obedience to the bishop should include allowing the Archbishop to defame and malign him. Fr. Paul, as a Christian witness, according to them, should have just turned the other cheek.
In fact, Fr. Paul was willing to do this. After the Archbishop first demanded his resignation on July 16, 2013, Fr. Paul, perhaps in a state of shock, indicated his willingness to depart the Archdiocese of Agana as noted in the Appeal by Fr. Paul's canon lawyer:
3.3 The Archbishop, during his initial meeting with Fr. Gofigan at which the Vicar General was present, refers to a verbal statement by Fr. Gofigan that was tantamount to resignation.
But now comes the part of the story that few know. When the actions by Archbishop Apuron against Fr. Paul became known, a group of lay people formed around him (I wan't involved yet) and asked him to fight back. Their reason? They had seen this bullying of priests going on for far too long and they had seen the damage it had been doing to the Archdiocese for the nearly three decades of Archbishop Apuron's tenure.
They also saw backing Fr. Paul at this juncture as a last stand against the ever more aggressive takeover of the Archdiocese by the Neocatechumenal Way. Fr. Paul, as pastor of the island's largest parish, had held out against the imposition of the Neocatechumenal Way on his parish, and his opposition was well known.
As discussed previously, Fr. Paul was willing to permit the establishment of Neocatechumenal communities in his parish, but he was not willing to allow them to violate canon law and liturgical norms in doing so. Above the bishop, Fr. Paul had a duty to conform himself to church law, not just the Archbishop's personal wishes, which, as almost everyone could see, were really just instructions coming from the Neo leadership.
Fr. Paul knew the cost of opposing the Archbishop. He would be vilified, bullied, slandered, defamed, criticized, and would never again have the ability to serve his people as a parish priest. But his lay supporters convinced him that for the sake of the other diocesan priests (as opposed to the neo-priests) SOMEONE had to say "enough is enough."
He also knew that taking on this burden for the sake of his fellow priests would make him appear to be impudent and rebellious and that the Archbishop would cast him as such. Fr. Paul would not say why he had chosen to stand up to the Archbishop. It would have to remain a silent cause. He just knew, once he understood the necessity of a stand for the sake of his brother priests, that he had to do it. And so he did.
And sure enough, he was immediately vilified, bullied, slandered, defamed, and criticized. But probably even Fr. Paul NEVER thought the Archbishop would go so far as to say what he said at the clergy retreat.
Go here for Part XV