Monday, December 12, 2016
THE PRIEST AS PUBLIC PERSON
Posted by Tim
Priests, who in the capacity of their ministry, serve publicly, such as bishops, pastors, teachers, chaplains, rectors, chancery or curial officials, are not private persons. Like their lay counterparts, especially in the matter of governance, they wield considerable authority and influence over the lives of the people who are entrusted to them and can and should be held publicly accountable when they violate that trust.
When a government official, let's say a mayor, is legitimately removed from his position and he absconds for several days with the office vehicle, he doesn't just get to show up at the governor's house and work out a deal where there will be no public consequence for his actions. The governor might "forgive" him but the mayor's action was a crime against the people, not the governor. Thus, there are public consequences.
Sadly, it is this sense of immunity by wayward clerics from public consequences, which has led to decades of horror and abuse in our sacred places. There is little doubt that monsters like Apuron, Brouillard, and the late Antonio Cruz (and I believe we are at just the beginning) did what they did because there was nothing there to stop them.
The rest of us who live in the real world do not have layers of bureaucracy and the church's bank account, not to mention fear of the clergy, to protect us. In the real world, a person who commits a crime, or even is alleged of a crime, becomes a public person. His face appears in the paper, his record is made known, and his name becomes public property.
For many, this sort of public exposure acts as a significant deterrent. However, in the Church, at least until recently, crimes against the faithful were hidden, the offenders shuffled around, and victims paid off or threatened into silence. And even when victims dare to come forward, without protection of the law and expensive attorneys, they can be humiliated and sued by the powerful and wealthy Church into poverty.
Currently, we have before us four clerics with demonstrable offenses against the faithful: Apuron, David C. Quitugua, Adrian Cristobal, and Edivaldo da Silva Oliviera (Pius is not a priest of the Archdiocese of Agana and his status needs to be dealt with separately.)
In the case of Apuron, we do not even need to bring up the sex abuse cases or even the Yona property issue. His turning over his episcopal authority to others is the crime. While Pius' and Adrian's involvement are well known, Apuron's real crime is ordaining men at the instruction of his Neocatechumenal superiors and even against his own judgement.
David C. Quitugua, amongst a multitude of other offenses, can and will be held liable for trafficking in bogus government documents with the intent to deceive the public. And that's just the beginning.
Adrian Cristobal and Edivaldo's offenses were clearly laid out in my last two posts, but their most public offense is their refusal to accept their ministerial assignments from Archbishop Hon. Their assignment was a public act, an Aviso, and their rejection of the assignment was just as public.
Something just doesn't get to be "worked out" behind the scenes at this point.
While their offense was disobedience to a religious superior, their disobedience was also an offense against the faithful. And not to publicly address it perpetuates the sense of clerical immunity which has left a 50 year old pile of damaged and dead children and brought our own diocese to the brink of collapse.
I understand that our call to STOP THE MONEY several months ago has had a severe impact on the finances of this diocese. Now that Archbishop Byrnes is here we would like to start a campaign to START THE MONEY. However, there still remains the lingering question about Apuron's fate. We recognize that this is something Archbishop Byrnes has no control over.
The other three are another matter.