Thursday, March 2, 2017

CLARIFYING ISSUES ABOUT THE CANONICAL TRIAL

(posted by Frenchie)

Much ink has been spilled over the last two weeks, regarding the canonical trial of Anthony Apuron, our disgraced and disgraceful ( still in title) Archbishop. 

The international Press made a lot of  hay about the sending of Cardinal Burke, to our shores.
The rumor mill of the Vatican, went viral as to the reason of his pick for this sensitive mission.
For us on Guam, the main development, was that David Lujan, the Attorney representing Roland Sondia, and the other victims of Apuron, advised his clients not to testify unless he was present with them to advise, but also to avoid any conflicting issue during the civil case.

It became obvious very fast, that this decision, while understandable, and justified, could have some lasting impact on our fight to rid ourselves of an hypocrite and disgusting pedophile, who used the power of his pulpit to advance, abet and shoulder many injustices, abuses and grossly heretical positions.

The reality that a weak case against Apuron, could lead to him getting off Scot-free, at his Roman trial, because of the lack of testimony by the victims, was no longer to be dismissed.

We, at Jungle Watch were bombarded by many opinions, and advises, from a concerned public.
These concerns were mostly justified and the anxiety felt by many people was fed by the many suppositions in the main stream media.

Our conversations led to Mrs Haselberger, a prominent Canon Lawyer from St Paul MN, who was involved in several public cases, who has been willing to answer questions from both the Press and some active participants, to clarify several issues at hand.

Her answers are plain and to the point.

Let me share with you some of the main points made.

While she strongly wished to not say anything critical about the victims or their Attorney, she points to several factors.
  • It is a mistake not to participate in the process. Without the evidences provided by the victims, it is possible that the Tribunal will not have enough upon which to base an affirmative decision
  • The Tribunal may consider that their refusal to participate reflects negatively on their claim.
  • While the thought of appearing in front of the Tribunal, specially without legal counsel, might be intimidating, the victims should be encouraged to try and find an acceptable compromise. For instance, the tribunal might be willing to allow them to respond to questions in writing, as is often done in cases for declarations of nullity of marriage.
  • It is also important for everyone to understand that the canonical process is a very different process that the adversarial, common law process of our civil courts. The victims, should they participate, would not be subject to cross examination by the attorney for the defense. The only people allowed to pose questions to the witnesses are the judges. The advocates can propose questions, but it is for the judges to determine if those questions are relevant, should be asked, and then to actually do the interviewing.
Her final comments, and we quote directly and in full:

"While I do not agree with Cardinal Burke on every matter, I know him to have a true respect of the Law. He would not permit a matter in which he is involved to be manipulated in such a way as to cause harm to one who sought Justice. I also know that his personal sense of  integrity is such that he would never countenance the sexual abuse of  minor, and would punish such offense, should it be proven, to the full extent of the law. I am confident that he can be trusted in this matter, and I would encourage any victim to try and find a way to assist him in this important matter."

To me this last paragraph is very telling and important, for the four victims and their Attorney Mr Lujan to consider. In view of the personal track record of Mrs Haselberger and her great reputation, it is not to be taken lightly. 
As Catholics we must all thrive to not only bring evil to Justice, but also to make sure that we fight evil within the confine of our Church.

I am fully aware, of the difficult and gut wrenching decision process the Victims are facing, and I pray very strongly that they shall find the discernment to do the right thing for their Church, as well as for themselves, not only as Victims, but as survivors who will be able to continue growing in their faith despite all the wrongs they experienced.

35 comments:

  1. Ms H is right in her final comment. She is , I believe , somewhat wrong in her prior comments. The problem is that , there are not enough individuals like Burke in the clergy - or to put another way, he and others like him are outnumbered by the other forces. So we cannot rely , as Tim has said-don't to Rome - I am confident the task undertaken by Lujan , for his clients, will achieve what his clients, God Bless them, want - and along with them, what we want.

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    1. Unfortunately it has already been confirmed that without the oral testimony of the alleged victims in the presence of a judge, Apuron's guilt, in the eyes of the pope, can NOT be established, and he will remain Archbishop of Agana, even if only in name. Nothing established in the civil court can change this. While the alleged victims may walk away with some money, Apuron will not be punished, and will probably counter sue. And since he is now backed by O'Malley and the entire NCW syndicate, he will be able to outlast and outspend everyone. This an extremely sad turn of events. The only hope is for Roy, Walter, and Roland to tell their story before the canonical court.

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    2. This news is very disheartening. The efforts of many will go under and this MONSTER will really be laughing and having a grand time. SMH.

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    3. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)March 2, 2017 at 11:14 AM

      Judges (including those in the ecclesiastic court’s tribunal) make a ruling based on the evidence before them. While there may be sufficient evidence for crimes Abp. Apuron committed relating to his administrative capacity as archbishop (one example: effecting the RMS deed restriction, etc.), the punishment for those types of crimes is NOT defrocking (or laicization). It is to be sentenced to, what we could consider, the cushy condition of a life of prayer. The local faithful want him deservedly defrocked. He can be defrocked if, in addition to his administrative crimes, he is also found to have committed childhood sexual abuse. Testimony from one or more of the plaintiffs who filed a civil lawsuit against him for childhood sexual abuse would provide compelling evidence to the tribunal for which Abp. Apuron can be nailed for this crime.

      I agree with Frenchie and Ms. Haselberger. As I’ve written before about the various labels placed on Cardinal Burke that blanket the opposite ends of a spectrum, I believe that he is a professional and with this task before him, in his capacity as judge, he and the other judges of the tribunal will base their findings on the evidence before them. To achieve the local Faithful’s desire and the plaintiffs’ expressed desire to defrock, Abp. Apuron, as with Frenchie and Tim, I urge at least one of the plaintiffs to provide testimony of his sexual abuse experience to the tribunal. Records of this ecclesiastic trial will not be accessible nor admissible in civil court. It will not bite the civil court action. In fact, not providing testimony to the tribunal may hurt the civil action. The defendants in the civil action may use this decision as alluding to the plaintiffs’ stories as not true, hence they declined to tell their experiences to the tribunal when they were given an opportunity to do so. Further, if the Tribunal exonerates Abp. Apuron from the sexual abuse allegations, the defendants in the civil court action may allude to that finding as an event favorable to their defense. Yes, it may seem scary to speak directly to Cardinal Burke, but whether they were aware of it or not, one of the key desires in the hearts of the plaintiffs as they went public with their experiences in their press conferences last summer was that their horrific experiences at the hands of Abp. Apuron be heard by the Church; and for the Church to do what it can to stop the abuses that may still be ongoing. To provide testimony to before the tribunal could be equivalent to "being heard by the Church" --- a desire that finally came to fruition.

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    4. Disheartening indeed!! And a travesty at that! All the work and pain of so many, and the injustices done, down the drain – all for naught – just because of a technicality of church law. More than travesty, it is a sin – “A Sin of the Fathers” (I think that’s the name of a movie or a book).

      Light in the tunnel! If Cardinal Burke were to be given a bona fide copy of the video/audio recording of the testimonies of the victims as given by them when they testified in public hearing before the Guam Legislature, would that not serve to convince him of the veracity of the claims of the victims? Perhaps it may not be according to required church norms and technically insufficient to comply with “the rules of the game” – a canonical trial game - but it will certainly bolster the veracity of the victims, bolster the truth. Is the Church more concerned about technicalities of procedures, than about the righting of a wrong (a sin) committed against its church members? Would it hurt the case any if Cardinal Burke were to review those video/audio recordings? If a written testimony is admissible, in lieu of personal appearance, would not the submittal of an audio/video recording serve even better? One can not only read, but see and feel the agony of the victims as well. Just a thought!

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    5. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)March 3, 2017 at 5:37 AM

      To Anon 1:10, the tribunal may already has video footage of the plaintiffs’ testimonies before the 33rd Guam Legislature supporting the passage of Bill No. 326-33 (available here in Junglewatch). It may have news articles (print) and TV news footage of the press conferences given by plaintiffs when they went public with their experiences to expose Abp. Apuron (pre-passage of Bill 326-33 and pre-litigation) last summer. These materials are available in JungleWatch , Guam local news outlets (TV and print), and other areas in the public domain. It is assumed the the tribunal also has a written account from Walter because, as I recall, Walter said he provided to the Vatican in August 2015 a written account (or a letter) of his sexual abuse experience at the hands of Abp. Apuron. The tribunal may also already have copies of the civil complaints filed by the four plaintiffs since those are public documents.

      My point here, as well as Tim’s and Frenchie’s point, is that even with the static statements listed above, the most compelling evidence relating to the child sexual abuse allegations again Abp. Apuron would be the live testimony of one or more of the plaintiffs. In a live testimony, Cardinal Burke may have follow-up questions for which information is lacking in the written statements, the video statements, the news articles, and/or the news video footage. In addition, a person’s sincerity (or deceit) is captured in a personal appearance. There is nothing more compelling that engaging the human person's senses. We know Roland, Walter, Roy and Doris are the best witnesses for themselves. Their sincerity, their pain, and the good people that they are come through when they are met in person. For these reasons (and more), their personal appearance(s) will make compelling evidence before the tribunal. Why not give the tribunal the best evidence it could have? I have no doubt about their testimony because they speak the truth. The opportunity before them now is to tell that truth to an entity that could put into effect the remedies they (and the rest of Guam’s Faithful) seek from this ecclesiastic court.

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    6. as was written - why the RUSH RUSH now? file open 8 years..consider now all the reasons why the victims find themselves in the position of having been forced to file lawsuits. True objectiveness in the search for TRUTH would consider waiting until after the lawsuits exit the law courts- I am sure the victims would be prepared to testify to the canonical trial then.Instead ... did Burke really say he would like to have it wrapped up by summer?.
      The first step to caring, as with everything else in life ,is to be informed. Just stick with it everyone.Beware the deceptors.
      And Congratulations Bob (2/27/2017). I have been waiting for that one and more as suggested.

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    7. The file opened 8 years ago did not include allegations of sex abuse. And the reason for the rush rush now is probably JungleWatch since we have made it a huge point of international attention.

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    8. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)March 3, 2017 at 10:49 AM

      Tim, something happened in 2008 or slightly before 2008 that alerted the Vatican to open this file. What would that be? In JungleWatch's File Box. I only see one 2008 event and that is Abp. Apuron's letter to the Filipino priests basically demanding they become NCW priests or their contract to serve in the Archdiocese of Agana will not be renewed. Every now and then I wonder what in or around 2008 caused the Vatican to open this file? If you figure it out, inquiring minds like mine want to know.

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    9. From what I have gathered, complaints about Apuron had been going to Rome for years. The fact that the Vatican opened a case file on Apuron may have been motivated by his ill treatment of the 3 Filipino priests and the subsequent public protest. The protest occurred in front of the Cathedral and in the presence of Archbishop Charles Balvo, who was the Apostolic Delegate at the time. If you do a search for the word "Balvo" on this blog, several posts will turn up that will lead you to two letters from Balvo to Apuron regarding Apuron's negligence in financial reporting matters. Since I've heard that the 2008 file was about financial mismanagement, it is very likely that it was Balvo who opened the case on Apuron. To my knowledge, no sex abuse had yet been reported.

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    10. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)March 4, 2017 at 4:47 AM

      Thank you, Tim. I was thinking of those Balvo letters yesterday. I remember reading them last summer but didn't have time to do a quick check with the JungleWatch "File Box." I wanted to see the dates of those letters. I was thinking of them as a possible reason for the 2008 opening of an investigation. Not submitting a financial report, even after several "reminder letters" from a higher-up, is another demonstration of how terribly Abp. Apuron managed the Archdiocese of Agana. If financial records were maintained properly and are maintained currently, it wouldn't be difficult to produce an annual report. My archdiocese and my parish produce their annual reports every June for the prior fiscal year. This is why when I read the Balvo letters asking for financial reports, I thought "what is so difficult for Abp. Apuron to produce them?" ... now, after having a greater understanding of the situation, I can come up with several reasons!

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    11. Tim a sound comment there at 1.02.Fundamental question then is _ what are the criteria for a 'file" to be opened by the Vatican? I can't fathom financial mismanagement. We can safely so anyway that whatever the criteria and therefore the reason in Apuron's case-it must be serious.And it is somewhat unlikely that prior sexual abuse has previously been reported.Things of course will come to light in due course but it pays to be ahead of those times which is something that Tim has mastered. Not that many others are also fighting the cause but if not for the medium of JW we would not be informed and consequently challenged to protect the faith.

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    12. Actually financial mismanagement, in the eyes of Rome, apparently, is more egregious than sex abuse. You will recall that recently as certain "bishop of bling," was summarily and very publicly fired and chastised by Francis for "financial mismanagement, whereas, about the same time, Francis "refrocked" a cleric who had previously been "defrocked" for sexually abusing children.

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    13. At Rose relative to the Balvo Letters. The letters, which can be found in the FILE BOX, are dated 2011 and 2012. The 2011 letter says (Balvo to Apuron): "I have never received a financial report from you." And the 2012 letter repeats the same request and also chastises Apuron for his handling of RMS. It is very possible that Balvo, opened the file on Apuron in 2008 - being motivated by the public protest already mentioned - and aware that Apuron had ignored his reporting duties.

      About a year ago, Cristobal attempted to blame the missing reports on Deacon Martinez, who was the finance officer in 2011. However, it was only Martinez' job to assemble the report. It was up to Apuron to be sure that it was sent. There was probably good reason why Apuron did not send any reports.

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  2. If they haul Abp Apuron to the canonical court, wouldn't they get from him what they were hoping to get from the victims. From the victims, that they are telling the truth. From Abp Apuron, that he is quilty. He couldn't be that good an actor, could he?

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    1. No. They would not get it from him. A canonical court is nothing like our civil courts. He will not be cross-examined. There will be no jury. He has maintained his innocence and has even said that he has asked for a canonical trial to exonerate him. Without the live testimony of the alleged victims, there is only what will be submitted in writing. And since the alleged crime is said to have happened more than 40 years ago and there are no witnesses, it is Apuron's word against theirs. Ask yourselves, would have believed the allegations against Apuron if you had only read about them and not seen and heard these allegations from the people they happened to?

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  3. There has been quite a bit of news lately about Pope Francis going soft on pedophile priests - supposedly this is part of his "mercy" campaign. However, fortunately for us, Apuron has made himself a real pest: barging in on him in 2014 for a photo op at the Vatican as things began to heat up in Guam, then breaking through a barricade in Korea to give him a box of chocolates as Francis tried to get in his car, then the Waldo running up to his car in Manila to hand him an envelope, and then his using the occasion of a weekly greeting of visiting prelates (we have the pictures) to cry for help after he ran away from Guam after the first victim came forward.

    In addition, it was Francis who appointed both Hon and Byrnes due to Apuron's incompetence. And Francis has already asked Apuron to resign twice. So thanks to The Tony, Francis may just be "mercy-ed out" when it comes time to deal with Apuron. In fact, he may well be looking for a reason by now to put The Tony away for good.

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  4. I'm glad Dr. (not Mrs.) Haselberger was consulted. She's probably the best canon lawyer in the US where abuse coverups are concerned. She's also an ace with economic impact statements.

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  5. Rome now has unlimited latitude in Apuron's case. The last victim-member of the Vatican's child abuse Commission just resigned for lack of institutional support.

    The Commission which was intentionally neglected by treacherous O'Malley no longer exists. Other Papally appointed abuse victim-members resigned last year for the same reason.

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    1. To give a twist to your statement anon at 1.26, you must consider the close proximity of O'Malley to Genarrini and Kiko and their underground railroad for abusers, to come very close to a perfect storm of a coverup.

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  6. Fr.Matthew Blockley.March 2, 2017 at 3:07 PM

    Thank you Frenchie, Rose and Tim. Thank you also to David Lujan. Respect all of you in your voice for truth and Justic


    There is always the desire for me to come to this blog to blast out those who have personally caused me tremendous hurt.After all Tommy is giving me alot of opportunties these days. sic! What? Now he wants an extension period! However, as I was so impressed with President Trump in his address to Congress yesterday I'm going to follow his example and not blast out the "Lyin Fakes" I'm going to make a comment from the heart. But I am Fr.Matthew and Fr.Matthew enjoys being a little controversial.

    Roy, Walter, Roland, and Dorris.your all my heros. I have the greatest respect for you Guys and the inspiration you have given. I also have great respect for the integrity honesty of Cardinal Raymond Burke a man I have long respected as a dignified humble servant who respects law and the human person.On both sides of the playing field there are men and women I would give time to based on their good Character. Cardinal Burke is one of those good men who you can trust.

    Thinking through all this I think it would be a moment of grace and inspiration to many if Roy, Walter, Roland and Tita Dorris met privately in a group with Cardinal Burke over coffee.After a coffee gathering it would be easy for each of them to meet alone only with the cardinal.David Lujan would be welcomed also.
    The way the last meeting was set up did not open itself to mutual trust building. Even the highly respected much admired Fr.Tom Doyle referenced same thinking. The way the meeting was conducted was at best Victorian.
    I'm praying Roy, Walter, Roland and Tita Dorris will open their hearts to a private meeting with Cardinal Burke. I believe its possible to meet him on a common ground and build mutual trust, dialogue and above all Respect for all Parties concerned in the path to Truth and Justice.


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    1. While it's a nice thought, any testimony given in a such a context would probably not be admissible and in fact could taint any testimony. The canonical rules are the canonical rules. The questioning of the plaintiffs must be in the presence of the defendant's lawyers and the promoter of justice, and the notary. A canon lawyer may also be present on behalf of the plaintiffs.

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    2. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)March 3, 2017 at 6:00 AM

      One of the points highlighted by Fr. Blockley’s comment above is the rocky start with a terrible introduction between the canonical trial/investigation team that came to Guam and Plaintiffs/Mr. Lujan. My impression as it was happening and even until now, is that the canonical trial team should have extended better professional courtesy to the witnesses with whom they wished to interview-investigate. The way things turned out was that summonses/notices of depositions/interviews were snail mailed from Boston to Guam. A phone call or an email to Mr. Lujan (and other directly to witnesses not represented by counsel such as Deacon Martinez) that gives a heads-up that summonses are on their way for a tribunal investigation would have gone a long way for professional courtesy. Because that courtesy was missing, the investigation had a terrible start and the players experienced the worst of introductions. If the tribunal team was going to fly all those many miles to Guam and back, I would think they would have effected a setting where their investigation would be productive. But then, perhaps the element of surprise is part of the tribunal’s modus operandi? I don’t know but that thought certainly crossed my mind.

      Fr. Blockley is convinced, as I am, too, if the onset of the investigation didn't have a rocky nature, then Plaintiffs would have been amenable to an interview with Cardinal Burke and the tribunal team.

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  7. Cardinal Burke, the victims neither Attorney David Lujan expected the turn out the way it went and having Cardinal Burke leave island with a mission unaccomplished.

    Reading Fr.Matthew Blockley comment "Thinking through all this I think it would be a moment of grace and inspiration". There are some things that no matter how hard a person works, time spend , and how we want the plan to work according to how we want it to happen the plan runs into a wall that's not foreseen. If possible, maybe it's time for Attorney Lujan to regroup with all the victims.

    While Cardinal Burke is in charge to speak to the victims, don't send him away ! Next time around he might be replaced by someone not to be trusted.

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  8. LOL. You know who you are. It's coming. BIG GRIN.

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  9. Will the documents including the misleading citation be available on JW? http://www.kuam.com/story/34644621/2017/03/02/land-management-director-fined-for-not-providing-requested-documents

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  10. As I have pointed previously, while the testimony of the Survivors shall be essential in this portion of the trial, it appears that there are several parts in the accusations against Apuron. Tim and CNMI Lawyer have also noted as much.

    Many of the things Apuron is accused of have been piling on for years.
    One of the charges that came up prior to the sexual abuse accusations, was the hiding of abusers.
    If you noted, right before Apuron was "suspended" last year and replaced de facto by Arch. Hon, the hiding of Fr Luis in Qatar, had become quite an embarrassment in Rome, specially in view of the flippant answer of Bishop Balin to Mr White's inquiries.
    The subsequent tempest in a teapot that erupted from that incident, came on top of a growing mountain of evidences that Apuron had knowingly hidden predator priests. (which the Vatican had declared a big No No)
    So they are many accusations to be dealt with.
    The subsequent coming out of the survivors became the proverbial nail in the coffin.

    What we have now, because of the lack of testimony, is that it is no longer an open and shut case.
    Apuron can still be removed for his mismanagement and his coverup of sexual abusers, but what he is facing now, is a lot less serious in its consequences.

    The NCW and Cdl Sean understand this very well, this is why they have put a lot of time and effort in putting as big of a lid atop this boiling pot.
    The risk for the NCW, Filoni, Chaput, O'Malley and the other abetters of Kiko, is that they suddenly would be face with a growing scandal of their systemic and systematic coverup of sexual abusers within the group.

    Balin was severely reprimanded for last year incident, the rumor being that his career is now at a dead end, but he is getting off easy.
    Apuron's panoply of scandals had the potential of becoming a tidal wave that could have swept the whole bunch of them. Now they are all
    breathing a sigh of relief.
    They will continue, unless the survivors change their mind...
    Like they say in Football, we are only in the third quarter, and the game is still open.
    If some of you have strong concerns regarding the way the inquisition part of this trial has started, feel free to contact our Nuncio, and share with him in writing these concerns.
    This is the official channel to Rome, and it has been one of our most efficient ally. They work silently and I would say thanklessly, but efficiently

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  11. Statistically, the vast majority of pedophile priests' victims understandably leave the Catholic Church or become atheists. Nothing will change that.

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    1. I do not know where and how you got to these "statistics" but many studies conclude differently.

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    2. 3:27AM. As one who has spent 24 years observing sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in particular reference to Guam there is no truth in your statement.

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    3. That's where much of your problem lies, 8:10 PM. You have no idea what's actually happening outside of Guam.

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    4. And how would you know that?

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    5. 330am For your Information my residence is not Guam. Lol.

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  12. Couldn't Cardinal Burke have the courtesy to fully inform the witnesses in great detail of the entire procedure of the proceedings, and failing that couldn't the local safeguarding office do so - well in advance of the proposed interview date? That way, the witnesses could be assured of the relative straightforwardness of the procedure / proceedings.

    It's not like you can casually look up in the CCC, or the last page in your Mass book, how these sessions are supposed to work.

    It's probable that the usual Vatican element is out to sabotage Cardinal Burke's efforts just like the efforts of everyone of relative good faith.

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