On June 24 and July 14, 2014, Catholic Cemeteries issued, via two checks, an amount totaling $13,620.00 for the purpose of paying for the 20th Ordination Anniversary of Msgr. James Benavente, who was at the time also the Director of the Catholic Cemeteries.
On July 31, 2014, that amount (and then some) was reimbursed in full by members of Msgr. James’ family, Jesse and Gabrielle Bamba.
Normally, an ordination anniversary celebration should have been paid for by the parish. But Msgr. James did not want the parish to pay for it. Instead, his family paid for it. To facilitate the planning, Msgr. James advanced the money to Joshua Perez who was helping to coordinate the event.
There was no attempt to hide the transactions. The memos on all the documents clearly state the purpose of the transaction. And it appears Catholic Cemeteries even earned interest on the transaction.
The mistake Msgr. James made was technical. Because the Catholic Cemeteries is incorporated, a board resolution to approve a "loan" to Joshua Perez would have been the correct way to go. However, within church organizations, it is not uncommon for one fund to "lend" to another, if only, as we see here, to facilitate the coordination of an event until the funds can be reimbursed.
But now, let's talk about this COMPLETELY NEO BOARD:
Dennis Santo Tomas, Chairperson
Roland San Agustin, Vice-Chairperson
Jacqueline Taitano Terlaje, Secretary
Wayne Santos, Director
Lilian Perez-Posada, Director
Rev. Jose Alberto Rodriguez, Administrator
On September 30, just hours or even moments after Archbishop Hon issued a statement declaring that all allegations against Msgr. James - including this one - were found to be "not valid," these NEO's unanimously voted for the following resolution:
Because they chose to report this to the Police and to the AG, they are declaring that they believe that Msgr. James engaged in criminal activity. Per the Board's own resolution, this information was known to them as early as July 2014:
Complete Complaint here
As members of the board, if they believed this to be criminal activity, they had a fiduciary responsibility to report it immediately to the competent authority (police and AG). Yet, they did not. In effect, if they now want to push this forward as evidence of criminal activity, they should also be held complicit in its cover up. But I'll let the attorneys (not trained ones, real ones) figure that out.
Then there is the matter that this seems to follow a pattern. Bill 326 passes the Legislature unanimously, and suddenly the Neo's organize to have it vetoed. After two years, Msgr. James is vindicated, and suddenly the Neo's want to press criminal charges.
And then we have a clear example of what we all know: that the NEO's are not only NOT part of our Church, but, as Fr. Jeff stated, they are aggressively interfering with it.
- The Archbishop of Agana, who is the sole member of this corporation (like RMS) is NOT on the board (as he is with RMS), effectively creating an autonomous entity, still paid for by the Archdiocese, but completely controlled by the Neo's.
- The Neo's completely reject the authority of the papally-appointed Apostolic Administrator by NOT even copying him on the complaint filed with the police and the AG.
- And filing the complaint on the very day Hon declares the allegations (including this one) to be "invalid," is a direct SLAP in the face to competent authority of the Archdiocese.
While we laity are free to disagree and even protest the administrative decisions of this authority, the members of the board of an archdiocesan entity are another matter. And acting corporately as they did is a severe statement of separation from the archdiocese - once again, evidencing what we already know.
In short, the resolution adopted on September 30, 2016 by the COMPLETELY NEO Board of Directors of the Catholic Cemeteries of Guam is a DECLARATION OF WAR against the Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Agana.
PACIFIC DAILY NEWS: Hon clears Monsignor Benavente of financial mismanagement; new allegations arise
KUAM: Archdiocese issues statement after news of complaint about finances
PACIFIC NEWS CENTER: Archbishop Hon rebukes complaint against Msgr. James
DAILY POST: Complaint filed against Monsignor Benavente