Saturday, June 21, 2014


Note: The entire 16 chapters thus far written can be read in their entirety beginning here. Each chapter is linked at the end to the next chapter.


I erred slightly in saying in my last installment that the Archbishop "would respond". In fact, we don't know if he would have on his own. For what looked like a response from the Archbishop - an invitation to Fr. Paul to meet with him - we learned later was the work of Fr. Mike Crisostomo.

Fr. Mike is the current president of the Association of the Diocesan Clergy of the Archdiocese of Agana, and as such - and also because of just who Fr. Mike is - felt that things had gone too far and took the responsibility to set up a meeting between the two in the hopes that there would be some attempt at reconciliation. 

(We learned this from Fr. Mike himself who, in a comment on this blog dated May 28, 2014, stated: "I assisted Him by arranging a meeting at the Carmel Monastery with Fr Paul, hoping this would end", and once again called on the Archbishop to "put an end to all this." )

At the time of the meeting, it is not clear if Fr. Paul knew that the meeting had been arranged by Fr. Mike, and may have well been under the impression that the Archbishop had initiated the meeting, prompting Fr. Paul to believe  - simply because of who Fr. Paul is - that the Archbishop truly wished to reconcile. He was wrong. 

After the meeting, held at a "secret location" on January 15, the day after the press release, Fr. Paul wrote the following to the Archbishop:
Your Excellency: 
After much reflection, I am deeply disappointed at what I now describe as a pointless meeting this afternoon. I was hoping and praying that perhaps you were finally reaching out to reconcile and start the healing that this Catholic community of Guam desperately needs and wants. Instead, all you asked was that “we cool off ” and let the canonical process run its course. 
I am not sure what you mean by cooling off. You made reference to Mr. Rohr and how he was after you, but what does Mr. Rohr have to do with me and the defamatory remarks you made against Mr. Lastimoza and me? Please do not forget that it was you who threatened a “painful and arduous” closure to my assignment at Santa Barbara, and I have to say that you have indeed made it very painful and arduous for me.
Before we continue with the letter, let us make some notes.

We see that Fr. Paul had approached the meeting with the sincerest intent to reconcile. Instead he was told to "cool it" and let the "canonical process run its course."

There are two problems with this. First, the "canonical process" requires that a bishop make a personal, private and sincere attempt to resolve a problem with a pastor before it ever goes to Rome. No attempt was made.

Second, even at this stage, given Fr. Paul's willingness to reconcile, the Archbishop could have ended the whole saga. In other words THERE IS NO NEED FOR THE CANONICAL PROCESS TO RUN ITS COURSE!

The Archbishop simply could have apologized for the misunderstandings, explained that he was under severe pressures or whatever he wanted to blame it on, and quietly restored Fr. Paul to pastor of Santa Barbara, with certain agreed upon conditions relative to the former employee's presence at parish activities.  

Had the Archbishop done this, nothing more would have been said and peace would have been restored. We know this because even though there was a huge public blowup after Archbishop Apruon restricted the attendance of the public at Masses at the Friary a few years ago, once the restriction was rescinded, the whole issue went away.

In fact, had he simply and quietly reconciled with Fr. Paul at this juncture, the Archbishop, even in the eyes of his long-time detractors, would have risen in esteem. There was no need to let the "canonical process take its course" when the Archbishop himself was still in full control of the "canonical process"! The case DID NOT have to go to Rome. It could have stopped in Tamuning (the location of the meeting) on January 15.

There was simply NOTHING to gain by letting the case go to Rome, unless...unless, the Archbishop had another reason for snuffing out the priestly life of Fr. Paul.  Let us go on with Fr. Paul's letter. He concludes:
While you apologized in a very broad and verbal way, you still did not put your apology in writing and more importantly, did not send anything to the those clergy who heard these slanderous remarks. 
You did not do anything to repair the damage already done. As I mentioned to you in our meeting, my Advocate, Fr. Dacanay SJ has recovered from his ailment and is now able to continue to represent me. 
Therefore, I will continue to press my case, both canonically and civilly. I will continue to take any and all steps to salvage my name and vocation which you have gone out of your way to ruin.
Unfortunately for Fr. Paul, the publicity about the meeting worked against him this time. Because he had said "while you apologized" - even though those words were qualified by the rest of the sentence - it appeared that the Archbishop had actually apologized for his harmful acts and that Fr. Paul had not accepted.

We are all familiar with those types of apologies: "I'm sorry you got your feelings hurt (but I still believe you are an idiot)"; "I'm sorry if you misunderstood my intentions (but that's your fault); etc. There is no apology for the harmful act itself, there is only an apology for the consequences. And this is what happened at the meeting. 

We know this because once the so-called "apology" was publicized, Fr. Paul immediately wrote the Archbishop the following:
January 16, 2014 
Your Excellency: 
I misspoke. I gave you the benefit of the doubt in our meeting yesterday and in my subsequent letter where I said you generally apologized. In retrospect, you did not. What you said instead was to make an excuse for your defamatory remarks by saying it was taken out of context or that it was not what you intended to say. Upon checking again what you actually said, there is no doubt that you meant what you said and you meant to ruin and defame my name and that of Mr. Lastimoza in an attempt to bolster and justify your act in removing me on July 16th as pastor of Santa Barbara. 
I wanted the record clear on this point.
To be continued...

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