Saturday, August 20, 2016

THE REAL PROBLEM: GETTING OUR SPIRITUAL LEADERS TO DO THE RIGHT THING!

Posted by Tim Rohr

It appears that Archbishop Hon could use the advice of someone who can read Canon Law. Listed as members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council on the Archdiocese of Agana website are:


Note: While the objectivity of finance council decisions by neocatechumenates (Ada and Quichocho) can certainly be questioned in matters related to RMS (Quichocho is also RMS Board Treasurer), and David C. Quitugua is demonstrably ethically compromised (certificate of title), we'll leave those issues aside for now and continue with the following. 

There are a couple of problems here. The first is that Deacon Dominic Kim is also the Archdiocesan Finance Officer:




This is a conflict of interest because the Finance Officer is required to act independently of the Finance Council. Canon Law assumes this separation in the following canons:

Can. 494 §1. In every diocese, after having heard the college of consultors and the Finance council, the bishop is to appoint a Finance officer who is truly expert in Financial affairs and absolutely distinguished for honesty.

§2. The Finance officer is to be appointed for a Five year term but can be appointed for other Five year terms at the end of this period. The finance officer is not to be removed while in this function except for a grave cause to be assessed by the bishop after he has heard the college of consultors and the Finance council.

§3. It is for the Finance officer to administer the goods of the diocese under the authority of the bishop in accord with the budget determined by the Finance council and, from the income of the diocese, to meet expenses which the bishop or others designated by him have legitimately authorized.

§4. At the end of the year, the Finance officer must render an account of receipts and expenditures to the Finance council.

Just using §4 as an example, Deacon Kim (Finance Officer) is required to "render an account of receipts and expenditures" to himself (member of the Finance council)!

There is also the question of Mr. Weisenberger's membership on the Finance Council. Canon Law provides safeguards against potential conflicts of interest: 

Can. 492 §3. Persons who are related to the bishop up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity are excluded from the Finance council. 

While Mr. Weisenberger is not related by blood to the bishop, his wife is Archbishop Apuron's longtime personal secretary, and many dioceses have expanded the interpretation of "affinity" to include employees, their spouses and close relatives. 

Even if the exclusion of diocesan employees and their close relations from a consultative body so critical and sensitive as the diocesan finance council is not carved outright into canon law, in an age where the Church is being bitterly scrutinized (especially our own diocese) it would seem that such an exclusion would be openly embraced and touted. In other words: It's just the right thing to do. 

But then getting our spiritual leaders to to do the right thing IS the problem, isn't it. 

17 comments:

  1. Isn't that the truth! In addition, aren't the majority of these guys upstanding members of the NCW? That can also be interpreted as a conflict of interest. So what does a JCD or canon law background have anything to do with finance?

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  2. Agreed that it is the Archbishop who is the responsible here. The others are lackys towing the line for the great lie. The whole lot of them are fraudsters and robbers.

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  3. Why not bring back the former finance council? Wasn't the reason they were replaced was because they were doing the right thing?

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  4. Well, if you're looking for people to be part of the financial council of the church, whom you think can be trusted, wouldnt you look for parishioners/ lay people or faithful? What if these people were elected by others who see them fit to the be amongst the council? Sorry but enlighten me, im not familiar with how these people are brought into these positions but im sure they didnt just elect themselves. Someone must have thought these individuals capable. If not, they should find another person who is qualified but then you could easily find something on that person which points to some sort of relationship amongst any employee or relative especially since we live on guam, and the pool of candidates is from within our own church. Theres bound to be relationships and ties.

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    1. They are not elected. They are appointed by the bishop. Common decency says you do not appoint employees or their spouses to positions which are required to hold the employer accountable.

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    2. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)August 21, 2016 at 2:08 AM

      Conversely, if you were the one appointed and you care about transparency and propriety of the Finance Council, you would look at the cannons and regulations that brought about your appointment and check-off your personal and professional compliance to those requirements to make sure you held the office fairly and squarely. If you find that there are requirements that you don't meet as spelled out in the cannons (such as potential conflict of interest brought on by dual leadership roles or personal relationships, lack of background or skill in finance, etc.), then you recuse yourself from the appointment under those grounds. When you recuse yourself from an appointment under such a scenario, you are helping the bishop (whether he knows it or not) to form a Finance Council that is in keeping with the prescription of cannons.

      My point here is that, while the bishop has the responsibility to vet those he appoints to the Finance Council, those he appoints also have a responsibility to look at their qualifications and their situations (ie free of conflicts-of-interests, skills and knowledge in finance, etc.) before accepting the assignment. With the Catholic culture of Guam, this practice doesn't take place because of the deeply rooted (and accepted without question) practice of the absolute power of the bishop on the one hand, and the fame, notoriety, elevation, and just plain being "special" that comes to an individual when he/she is tapped by the bishop to do a specific work for the Church whether or not he/she is qualified. The appointment is viewed as a status rather than viewed from a humble opportunity to serve the Church. It is both culture and long held practices of the Church that have contributed to the team that comprise the current Finance Council.

      It appears that now, with the works of the Concerned Catholics and also the awareness of individual Catholics on Guam who are not necessarily affiliated with formalized groups such as the CCO, that the bishop's power is not absolute. In addition to God and to the Pope, the bishop has to be accountable to his flock. And that includes putting together a team of financial experts that meet the requisites of the Can 494 and Can 492.

      P.S. I think a qualified woman should be a member of the Finance Council. After all, women comprise the majority (the ACTIVE majority) of the Catholic population of Guam.

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  5. So be appointed Tim since you belly ache so much.

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    1. Belly ache? Anonymous you sound annoyed? You appear to have the bell ache! LOL. Go play with Diana and the goons.

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  6. 5:50 PM, you are comical, aren't you? Do you contradict this post because you think Tim Rohr is a whiner or because you do not agree with his post? I presume you are an adult capable of distinguishing personal attack from disagreement with a certain idea. If you do not agree with what he wrote, express your own ideas but do not attack the writer. Who has bellyache now? You do. So I stoop to your level so you understand: my advice is that you are better off "belly dancing" with the Diana than meddling with adult talk. You might even shed some pounds along with her.

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    1. - You hit the nail straight on the head 8:42 PM! Maybe your comments can sink into 5:50 PM's pea brain, gain some adult knowledge, and contribute intelligently to adult conversations!

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  7. Kim a huge snake. Not even his parish respects him.
    He has no business being in the Board since he is a direct employee of Apurun.
    Hon-get him out if you are serious or keep him in because he is Asian. Just let us know.

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    1. Yes, it is time Dominic Kim be put under the spotlight. What he knows and what he has done for apuron (and for himself, of course) will be an eye-opener.

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  8. So Anon 5:50PM: Tempers, tempers are arising, are they? Must be too much to handle for you? What with the avalance of discovered lies, uncloaked corruption, unmasked deception, exposed fraud, unveiled dishonesty and admitted Disobedience to the Magisterium (to boot)?

    No minor belly ache coming your way but for sure, it'll be an indigestion cuz the Catholic faithful and Catholic laity are not letting up! We have just begun!

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  9. Anon @ 5:50PM: The definition of appointed -I do not think it means what you think it means.

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  10. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)August 21, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    The issue here is more than a matter of decency. I know you are pointing out, Tim, that decency is the lowest requirement in putting together and in being a part of the Finance Council, yet the parties involved didn’t even meet that low threshold. Par for the course!

    It appears that Fr. Apuron didn’t consult or all together disregarded the requirements of Can. 491 and 492 when he appointed the members of the Finance Council. I doubt any vetting took place that would have looked into conflicts-of-interests, roles of Finance Council members that would supersede roles in other governing bodies in which they serve, experience, and professional qualifications. No doubt there is a huge pool of talent outside of the diocesan circle from where Fr. Apuron could have asked qualified Catholics to serve in the Council, but I have a feeling his requirements were different than those spelled out in the cannons. I am speculating when I say this, but I’ll say it anyway. The two that come to mind are members who don’t question the financial direction or decisions to which the bishop is committing the Archdiocese. In short, literal “yes men.” And the other, those who can continue to be aware of, yet not sound the alarm bells on the fact that the Archdiocese’s financial resources are largely directed toward the seminaries and seminarian programs and that the Archdiocese current financial mission lacks addressing the works of the gospel.

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  11. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)August 21, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    Fr. Apuron is accountable to God, the Pope, and the Catholic community of Guam. In his appointment of the members of the Finance Council, he disregarded the requirements of the cannons to the detriment of his flock. For most of his life as a priest, and now, as Archbishop, he enjoyed the benefits of the Catholic culture on Guam whereby the clergy is not held accountable for poor leadership or even for decisions that don’t make sense for a parish or for the island's Catholic community. They are not held accountable because the culture believed and trusted that the clergy always has their flock’s best interest at heart; that the clergy are held with reverence almost akin to God, therefore no accountability is asked of their actions and decisions. That climate is changing in that Guam’s Catholics, for the love of their Church, are holding their leaders accountable. They now demand accountability through formalized organizations such as Concerned Catholics or, on their own, personally thinking over all the events and activities of late that are the result of poor leadership and coming to terms with those realities in their hearts, minds, and pocketbooks. This is not a matter of disobeying the Church, or lacking reverence for the Church. Rather, Guam’s Catholics are fighting for their Church --- the survival of the Church community that they know and love. While only the present turmoil is seen, I see their effort at asserting accountability as a beautiful thing. You can’t straighten anything out, until you know where the problem(s) is/are. Unfortunately, finding out the problem(s) is an ugly process.

    Lastly, back to the Finance Council, I say, appoint qualified women to the Finance Council! Women comprise the ACTIVE MAJORITY Guam’s Catholics. They should be represented in the governing bodies of the Archdiocese, starting with the Finance Council.

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  12. Tim, this a great article. -JM

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