I don't know exactly how this will play out, but given the absence of an immediately condemnable crime, Archbishop Apuron will probably be given a list of things to do to show good faith on his part for an attempt at reconciliation - as the Apostolic Visit was said to have as its objective.
My guess is that there will be an attempt at making up with the lesser level "offenders", e.g. Fr. Efren, Deacon Steve, etc., but we probably won't see any attempt at reconciliation with Fr. Paul or Msgr. James.
That's too bad. Anything less than restoring Fr. Paul and Msgr. James to their positions constitutes a reconciliation charade.
- He provided proof that he had terminated Mr. Lastimoza within days of receiving the original order - thus he did NOT disobey the order as accused.
- Mr. Lastimoza's parole records showed that Archbishop Apuron had permitted him to do the same job at Santa Barbara 13 years earlier as a condition of his parole - thus either nullifying all the "dangers" Archbishop Apuron said Mr. Lastimoza to be, or implicating himself as having himself exposed parishioners and children to the same dangers 13 years previously.
Archbishop Apuron has tried to pretend that his "hands are tied" on the matter because Fr. Paul has appealed to Rome. But since Fr. Paul's appeal is to be restored to his position as pastor, all Archbishop Apuron has to do is restore Fr. Paul to his position as pastor and there is no case.
Beyond that though is more insincerity from the archbishop.
Before Fr. Paul filed his Appeal, his canon lawyer first presented a Motion to the archbishop asking to be restored to his office. Archbishop Apuron only had to restore him at that point and there never would have been an appeal to Rome. Archbishop Apuron's hands were not tied then because it was completely in his hands at that point. (It still is.)
If upon restoring Fr. Paul to his office as pastor, Archbishop Apuron still believes there are other causes to remove him, then let him proceed canonically and with respect for Fr. Paul's dignity and for ours as well.
Meanwhile, all the conditions for the archbishop's demand for Fr. Paul's resignation on July 16, 2013, have all been proved to be false. (In fact, the archbishop knew them to be false to begin with, but he had to obey Giuseppe Gennarini.)
As for Msgr. James, his position as Director of the Archdiocesan Development Group and the Catholic Cemeteries is fair game. Sadly, because Msgr. James served in this position at the will of the archbishop, the archbishop did not need a long list of crap to remove him. He simply could have quietly thanked him for his service and appointed someone else to take his place.
But as we all know, Archbishop Apuron publicly trashed Msgr. James, even going first to the media (and amazingly to the students at FD) before giving the same list of charges to Msgr. James himself...if in fact he ever did. (I don't know.)
As for his position as rector of the Cathedral, Msgr. James could have simply been transferred. Instead, Archbishop Apuron publicly fired him by serving him with a DECREE OF REMOVAL. There was simply no need to do that, unless of course Giuseppe ordered it - which is probably the case.
Apparently, given the blow back over his illicit removal of Fr. Paul, having initially skipped all the canonical requirements, Archbishop Apuron, or should I say, "Giuseppe", wanted to get his decrees in order this time around.
There is serious reason to contend that Msgr. James was not the rector of the Cathedral, despite his title, but the pastor, given that all of his duties were that of a pastor, and thus deserving of the protections of the office of pastor under canon law. I wrote extensively about that in The Canonical Case for Msgr. James.
However, even if Msgr. James could be proved to be only a rector serving at the will of the bishop, a simple reassignment was all that was needed. There was absolutely no need for the big fat DECREE OF REMOVAL and the subsequent crying to the media and blasting Msgr. James over and over again in the U Matuna...unless of course, this too was at the order of Giuseppe Gennaini - which it was, of course.
Remember that Msgr. James has always been seen as the most likely candidate for the next bishop, but not being Neo, Giuseppe had to make sure that Msgr. James was removed from the list of candidates. Thus the campaign to discredit him.
The damage can never be undone. Archbishop Apuron has lost the respect of most of Guam's Catholics forever. He can of course restore some of that respect, at least for his person (though never his leadership) by properly undoing only what he can undo.
For Archbishop Apuron there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. He can still transfer Fr. Paul and Msgr. James to wherever he wishes - providing he follows the provisions of canon law, and he will be seen as big enough to admit his errors and willing to set things right - and perhaps accrue some modicum of respect and integrity for his legacy.
Here, let me outline a course of action:
- A public apology for how he treated both priests.
- A complete restoration of the two priests to their former positions.
- A private meeting with both priests to discuss the reasons for their reassignments.
- An Aviso stating their reassignments.
There is only one catch. Both the removal of a pastor and a rector require "just cause". And such a cause will have to be more than "because Giuseppe said."
And isn't that the REAL problem?