Sunday, August 16, 2020

ARE THE CATHOLIC FAITHFUL OF GUAM BEING BETRAYED, YET ANOTHER TIME?

( Posted by Frenchie)

 

 

This Sunday August 16th 2020, shall remain a day in infamy.

 

The Catholic faithful of Guam have had to face decades of challenges and difficulties.

The invasion of the island by Japanese troops, on December 8 1941 was followed by the deportation of most of the Catholic priests to Japan, and the exile of our Bishop to the Philippines.

During the Japanese occupation, only two Chamorro priests remained, and catholic priests from Japan were imported.

We all know the tragic death of our blessed Father Duenas, who unlike many of the priests of today's Church , did not hesitate to face evil in defense of his own beliefs.

After the occupation and liberation of Guam, the faithful had to endure outside masses held by military chaplains, already overwhelmed by their duties to the many troops housed on the island.

 

Bishop Baumgartner took on the task to rebuild the parishes' churches, as well as to wrest away from military authorities the right to open parochial schools, and find enough  priests to tend his flock.

We have seen that unfortunately, some devious characters infiltrated the ranks of our priests, with the consequences we now know.

Archbishop Flores, for better or for worse, and like many of his brothers at the time, swept under the rug, what he knew were evil priests that abused their sheep, mentally, physically and too often  sexually as well. This was our first betrayal. 

 

Guam's Church had to survive more than thirty years under the corrupted leadership of the sexual offender Apuron, who was aided and abetted by a few corrupt clericalist, and the silence of countless others.

This was the second and deepest betrayal.

When Apuron was exiled by Pope Francis, never to return, many felt relieved and vindicated.One of the reason for these feelings was the arrival of Archbishop Byrnes.

A cleric very different from Apuron. self effacing, approachable, willing to listen to all, without preconditions. This was for many a breath of fresh air,  a much welcome departure from the dictatorial approach of Apuron and his minions.

Many measures were taken to heal the deep wounds inflicted on this Church by Apuron.The chancery opened their hearts and ears to the survivors, and the greatest majority of the faithful were appeased and consoled by this new approach.  

The Archbishop put some restrictions on the once almighty NCW, even as he continued to be frustrated by their defiance and refusal to recognize his authority.Overall, one might say, that for the large majority of the Catholics of this island, Archbishop Byrnes was a welcome change.

 

For some of us, more in tune with the realities of our church, several issues caught our attention which made us pause, and be concerned about some of the details.Yet the consensus was to let the Archbishop do his job and support him to the best of everyone's own abilities.

*For my part, the biggest question mark, was and remains the fact that Archbishop Byrnes was chosen by Cardinal Filoni.

Cardinal Filoni, has not been our friend over the years, to the contrary. He has been one of the leading patrons of the NCW  and its leaders, here and abroad. Had Archbishop Byrnes met with Filoni, earlier in his career, when he studied in Rome? What were the arrangements behind this "promotion"? Were promises made to the Archbishop?

We certainly do not have the answers to these questions, and can only surmise at this point and time.Suffice to say, that this is the kind of second guessing that makes you scratch uncomfortably the back of your neck.

The second alarm bell went off, when after much commotions and hesitations, the Archbishop appointed his personal friend and confident Fr Ronald Richards as the Chancellor, and special assistant to the Archbishop. One can understand why the Archbishop would nominate Fr. Ronald to these positions, when you consider his lack of trusted priests around him, and the overt rebellion he was facing from the NCW presbyters.

 

At the same time, in hindsight, this was probably the worse choice of personnel made by the Archbishop.Fr. Ron does not like being on Guam, (he is on Loan from the Archdiocese of Detroit).Fr Ron thinks he is the best thing since sliced bred, and he is not shy about saying so.Basically he believes that most of us here on this little island are some kind of country bumpkins.

As some of the pro independence advocates on Guam would say, he has a colonizer complex of superiority. Something I heard in several quarters around the island. (which is not a good omen). In 2018 Fr Ron was the main proponent of the memo that went out to all Catholics about not taking sides in the election, under the danger of loosing our tax status.(not what I would consider the first duty of a priest)

This lukewarm decision, was to lead to a vacuum of leadership for the Catholics who opposed Lou Leon Guerrero, for her life long dedication to the murder of innocent local babies for the past four decades. The consequences of this election are tied up to the disastrous situation we are now facing as an Archdiocese, and an island.


Earlier this year, the Archbishop officially received his pallium from the hands of our new Nuncio, who made the long trip from New Zealand. Several Bishops were in attendance for this nice ceremony. Just two months later the Governor of Guam: Lourdes Leon Guerrero, who had taken office barely a year earlier, declared an emergency, that would change the life of this island and of its Catholic community for years to come.

 

Our governor the CINO in chief for Guam, took it upon herself to trample our 1st amendment rights and stop all religious services. Finally after two long months where no faithful were able to receive the holy sacraments, the liturgical committee, and their contacts at the department of health worked out a series of preventive measures in order to reopen the Churches in a safe environment. Yet the head of the department at the time, Mrs De Norcey erred on the side of dictatorial decision and denied the reopening of the Churches, and sacraments. Fr Gofigan, the head of the liturgical commission, finally had enough and during one of his online homily, he blew the whistle on the shenanigans of Mrs de Norcey and Adelup. Since this was relayed online by the social medias, the scandal blew up, and forced the Archbishop to grow a spine and demand for the reopening of churches. This did not sit well with the Chancellor, and father Gofigan was silenced for standing up for all Catholics on Guam.

While many had been elated by the escape and departure of the former Chancellor, Fr Adrian Cristobal,  the accused child abuser (now on the run). It is hard not to be reminded by the actions of Fr Ron,  about the evil ruling period of Fr. Cristobal. The methods, the lack of integrity, and the propensity to think the faithful are stupid and easily manipulated, are shockingly similar, and frankly quite insulting. The feeling of being an untouchable is probably at the core of this distasteful situation.


Move forward a little over two months. The governor, being a mediocre administrator, facing an increase of Wuhan cases, mostly due to an increase of testing, and not having anticipating the situation decided to re-confine the island.

Upon learning of the Governor's intention, the liturgical committee made recommendations to the chancery, about keeping the churches opened, and continuing with the very successful protocol that had been put in place in all parishes. Protocol, which frankly is a lot more conscientious and advanced that most businesses and medical facilities.

As of Friday afternoon, the Archbishop  agreed that the  parishes should remained opened, while having all the precautions necessary in place.

In the meantime, Fr Ron was working the back channels, and had talked with the Governor, which led to the Archbishop also calling the Governor, and reversing his original decision.

The third betrayal.

Tony Diaz the communication chief of the Archdiocese was asked to prepare a news release. He did so, but Fr Ron again, intervened and had Mr Diaz add the phrase, "Archbishop Byrnes, consulting with the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission"  which was placed at the beginning of the communique, to give the impression that the Commission had acquiesced, which in itself is grossly misleading.

Indeed the commission recommendation were in opposition to go back to parking lot celebrations, and the large majority of the clergy, including some of the fearful ones thought that keeping the masses going was the right thing to do.

This kind of deceitful and dishonest approach is still too fresh in our minds to be accepted from a Chancellor, even if he is a close friend of the Archbishop. Actually, specially because he is a friend of the Archbishop. Perhaps, it is time that Fr Richards returns to his beloved Michigan, and leave these country bumpkins deal with the challenges of our faith.

Archbishop Byrnes upon his return on October 2nd should make it a priority to right this wrong, at the chancery. You just need to go in the parking lot of your parish to see, and hear the deep distress of the parishioners, and their painful loss of trust, in what started as a hopeful administration of the Archdiocese. This is most likely the end of the honeymoon period for Archbishop Byrnes, at least until he gets the next assignment he is expecting. A sad development indeed.

In the meantime, it would not be a bad idea for each of you to contact the Chancery and let them know how you feel about this latest betrayal.

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