Thursday, December 25, 2014

FR. EFREN: "THIS CHRISTMAS I HEREBY AFFIX MY NAME TO THE CONCERNED CATHOLICS OF GUAM."

The man is a warrior. Merry Christmas, Fr. Efren. You have seen his star in the East. 



Dear Tim and Family,

Greetings to you and your family during this festive time of anticipating the Lord's coming in our midst.  May He give you peace, and reward you generously for the brave endeavors you have undertaken in service of the Holy Mother Church.  I would like to have this on jungle watch when you are able to have time.  Thank you, once again.

Luke 4:18 ff.  "The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me and sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to give liberty to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to bring freedom to the oppressed, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."


These words uttered by Jesus Christ echo the words of the prophet Isaiah as he announced the beginning of his public ministry.  These are words given to us as a mandate of our discipleship. Christmas is a feast that, although commercialized and often taken out of context, reminds us to heed the profound tome of incarnational salvation.  Christmas is not about a vulnerable and helpless little infant or about nebulous little cherubs singing away "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," as the late Fr. Raymond Brown (with whom I had the honor to work on his library before his death) expounded in his book, the Adult Christ at Christmas," but a call to arms about the stewardship entrusted to us.

The brave words of the Holy Father to global Church leadership and the continuing work of Concerned Catholics of Guam, Mr. Tim Rohr, Mr. Chuck White, Mr. John Toves, Rev Steve Martinez, Ms. Vangie Lujan and others on island are visible reminders of a mature approach to the adult arrival of the Word made flesh.  I am heartily encouraged and inspired by some on Jungle Watch of people whose incisive and plain words cry out in clear view their hopes and dreams for the future of the Archdiocese (I do admit I derive some amusement from occasional gaffes as a result of passionate emotions hastily put into words a which however do not detract from the more vital messages). The never-ending work for peace and human dignity is not mutually exclusive of the realities of human existence:  atrocities and killings continue in the midst of Christians celebrating Christmas.  In some instances, violence escalates not inspite of Christmas cheer but because of it.  To be oblivious to the realities of conflict while singly fixating on the trimmings of the season is gross irresponsibility and infantile catechism - although we are much aware that some have taken that very stance in their mentality of the "embattled citadel."  Remember that the daily turn of events does not offer a mute, hold or delete button.  Delays will have its inherent flaws and dangers.

This Christmas I hereby affix my name to the cause of Concerned Catholics of Guam.  I believe in their goal to build bridges and to foster transparency (in all levels of administrative decisions) in the Archdiocese of Agana.  More importantly, I believe in the integrity of their leaders. Prior to their incorporation, I had the honor of individually engaging Mr Perez, Ms Lujan, Rev Martinez, and Mr Shinohara on different matters unrelated to the current church brouhaha.  They are dyed-in-the-wool Chamorro laypeople (or clergy in the case of Deacon Steve) whose sole purpose is to facilitate healing that comes from seeking answers to issues that current leadership has chosen to arrogantly ignore.  They have simply given face to the valid and just right of laypeople to know where their donations go, and to truthful answers to recent decisions.  It is that simple!  They are respectful (and respectable!) people who would themselves shirk from confrontation but have taken great interest in the inaugural words of Jesus as he started public ministry to bring healing to our church.

Who is that CEO/COO facing CCOG who would not be thrilled at the opportunity to partner with folks who will provide an objective analysis of a company - gratis!  They do not delight in the demise of a leader whose length of tenure is now obscured by a myopic view of reality.  Who is that figurehead who when asked about a past sexual allegation, would not humbly invite that person in his confidence and determine what he wants to accomplish?  Will he not look him in the eye and tell him his innocence, if he knows in his heart that he has done no wrong?  Will he not seek to assist that person to get to the truth of the matter rather than see him as an aggressor, and why not prudently allow law enforcement officials to proceed with an investigation?   Will he not get out of the way, and then prayerfully seek God for strength in prayer?  With nothing to hide, why threaten and hide behind the skirt of Holy Mother Church and employing legal assistance at Her expense - and consequently raise even more doubts to an already shaky public persona?  Will he not wisely know that his reputation is at stake and thus his sole responsibility?  Again, it is that simple!

Deacon Steve Martinez is a person I have always held in high esteem.  His position is not a personal attack on those who hold up the strings at the Chancery or to boot out the neo totally but rather to seek the truth and help build bridges as encouraged by Archbishop Krebs.  I believe that there is a way that this neo-catechumenal can peacefully co-exist with other believers - just not as THE ONLY mandated evangelization model.  Their methods are not for everyone obviously, but  everyone deserves a place in the sun.   After all, blood ties run through the whole gamut of the island spectrum regardless of creed.  Turf wars only serve to weaken long-term adherence to the Good News that we are called to proclaim.  My alliance with Deacon Steve might meet the same censure from people who have long lost the respect of the Roman Catholic community but so be it.  I may get threatened by the ubiquitous code, but know this:  as a bonafide Associate Member of the Canon Law Society of America, I have my pool of willing canon lawyers ready to be activated by another faux pas from our own Chancery office.  As I like to say, "Bring It On, buffoons!"  I hope more people will truly be the voices "that cry out in the desert" to announce the inbreaking of God's kingdom in our midst.  Merry Christmas!

Father Efren Adversario
Benedicite, Omnia Opera Domini!

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