As part of Archbishop Apuron's current campaign to restore his image to some semblance of a pastor, he is attempting to reframe the original crisis that got him in trouble in the first place: his mistreatment of Fr. Paul Gofigan.
Recently we saw a public attempt to justify the Archbishop's firing of Fr. Paul in the pathetically inept letter to the editor of a person calling himself "David Mills" and claiming to be simply a casual observer from New York.
Mills completely gave himself away as an Apuron/Neo-operative by providing a level of detail about the case that no casual observer from New York could access. (See my response to "Mills" on this blog here and in the PDN here.)
Having tried to discredit Fr. Paul by publicly re-condemning and punishing Mr. Lastimoza, Archbishop Apuron is now trying to make himself the victim in the Gofigan case by casting himself as the bleeding-heart father in the parable of the prodigal son by telling people "if only he would have come to me" (instead of filing an appeal with Rome), and then telling people that "it's out of my hands...it's in the hands of Rome."
I don't know about you, but I don't think I've every shaken my head (SMH) so much in my life as I have since Archbishop Apuron began this campaign to destroy his priests, and this latest LIE is no exception.
Here's why it is a lie:
Even now, more than a year after the fact, Archbishop Apuron has only to restore Fr. Paul to his position of pastor of Santa Barbara parish and Fr. Paul's case would simply be dropped. It would be dropped because there would no longer be a case. Only the Archbishop can remedy that. But he chooses not to.
(A side note: Even after restoring Fr. Paul to the position of pastor he can still have him legitimately transferred if getting Fr. Paul out of Santa Barbara is what he really wants. But obviously moving Fr. Paul out of Santa Barbara is not what he really wants. Apuron apparently wants to make an example of Fr. Paul for opposing the Neocatechumenal Way.)
But the sadder thing is Archbishop Apuron's saying "if only Fr. Paul had come to me." I say "sadder" because there can be no other explanation for the Archbishop's saying this, other than he has simply "lost it" - that he is now dangerously mentally incapacitated. And that's being charitable. Otherwise, we would have to label him a rapacious liar, if not calculatingly evil. So, I'd rather stick with "he's lost it."
Let's look at this "if only Fr. Paul had come to me."
Fr. Paul sent his formal Appeal of the Archbishop's decision to remove him to Rome on 11/07/13. Let's look at everything that happened before.
After threatening Fr. Paul on 7/16/13 with a demand for his resignation or "suffer a more arduous and painful closure to your assignment", Archbishop Apuron officially removed him as pastor the VERY NEXT DAY by issuing an Aviso formally replacing him with Fr. Dan Bien. So where was the time for Fr. Paul to "come to me"? THERE WASN'T.
Still Fr. Paul tried. After being replaced on 7/17/13, Fr. Paul wrote the Archbishop on 7/22/13:
Archbishop, I sincerely believe that your advisors failed to present to you all the facts necessary to make such a grave decision, and, in the interest of ecclesial communion and to prevent further disruption, harm, and damage being inflicted by this unjustified and illegal proceeding against the Santa Barbara parish, my family, and me, I implore you to relent and cease those proceedings immediately.
Get that? "I implore you to relent..." Fr. Paul begs Archbishop Apuron to reconsider within a week of his being publicly and brutally removed from his office. That counts as a "come to me". The Archbishop's response? The usual. Nothing. He claims to have been off in Brazil (with his Neo's), but that's a pathetic excuse. One: he always has access to email and the phone. Two: not to be engaged with this very grave matter is a gross dereliction of his duty.
Six days later, receiving no response from the One who laments "if only he would have come to me", Fr. Paul again makes another attempt to "come to" Archbishop Apuron when he writes on 7/28/13:
In my letter of July 22nd, I have asked for the revocation of the decree removing me from my office as pastor…I am now proposing the recourse to the author of the decree in accordance with C. 1734.1. In accordance with C. 1738, I am appointing Father Adolfo N. Dacanay, S.J. as my advocate. The recursus and the formal papers will be submitted in 10 days.
Again, another opportunity for Archbishop Apuron to speak with Fr. Paul, an opportunity personally offered by Fr. Paul, himself. Fr. Paul had not yet "gone to Rome", and "proposing" recourse and naming his advocate at this point still means nothing since Archbishop Apuron still could have intervened and offered to work out an alternative. He did not.
The naming of an advocate, however, appears to have shaken the Archbishop because a few days later, Msgr. David C. Quitugua, the Vicar General, writes Fr. Paul in behalf of Archbishop Apuron with an astounding claim:
I am responding to your recent letter of July 28, 2013, in which you have stated that you are “proposing the recourse to the author of the decree…noting that in your letter of July 22, 2013, you had “asked for the revocation of the decree removing [you] from [your] office as pastor.” In response, it must first of all be noted that the letter sent to you by Archbishop Anthony on July 16, 2013…was not a decree of removal from the office of pastor as you have claimed. Rather, this letter was…to”persuade the pastor to resign within fifteen days….” Since no decree has, in fact, yet been issued removing you from the office of pastor of Santa Barbara Church, there is no basis in law for the proposal of a recourse by you…”
So the Vicar General (in behalf of the Archbishop) says that Fr. Paul has no grounds to pursue canonical recourse because he was not officially removed from his office even though he was officially removed from his office (by virtue of the appointment of Fr. Dan Bien).
This would be hysterically funny if it was not also so tragic as it reveals the disastrous level of either ineptitude or malignity of the men who run our Catholic archdiocese. Either the Archbishop and the Vicar General are simply horribly inept or they are willing to sink to the most staggering level of lies. (You decide.)
By the way, how do you like that "persuade the pastor to resign" when the language of the letter reads: resign or face "a more arduous and painful closure to your assignment." Wow. Get that? "Persuade!"
Then, on 8/20/13, Archbishop Apuron is presented with a formal Motion to restore Fr. Paul to his office as pastor. Bear in mind that Fr. Paul's case has still not "gone to Rome." In the Motion, Fr. Dacanay lays out the evidence of the case and requests the Archbishop to reconsider.
This is another "come to me" moment. The Archbishop's response? A letter to Fr. Paul accusing him of everything all over again and giving him the required 15 days to respond.
Now, this is where we see why some call the Chancery "The Three Stooges". The Vicar General stated in his letter of August 2 that the Archbishop's letter to Fr. Paul of July 16 was a request to respond within 15 days. Obviously it wasn't because the Archbishop himself is now issuing that request over a month later. So either they lied about the first "request" or they tragically do not know what they are doing.
Fr. Paul, once again, responded to the false accusations of the Archbishop, and again asks to be restored to his office: ANOTHER "come to me" moment. The Archbishop's response? An official Decree of Removal.
So how many times, Archbishop, how many times did your son come to you? How many times did he ask you to reconcile? How many times did he ask you to reconsider? And yet you say "if only he would have come to me?"
Wow. Still shaking my head...and so, now, are many others...many, many others.