THE ULTIMATE TREACHERY

THE ULTIMATE TREACHERY
The Apuron Deception: A bishop attempts to deceive his pope

May 8, 2015, Agana, Guam

The following is a consolidation of four posts related to a gross deception perpetuated by the Archbishop of Agana involving the alienation of a mega-million dollar property from the Archdiocese of Agana and the archbishop's gifting it to his friends. The original posts, posted at JungleWatch.info, assume the reader already knows the long history and complex background to what may be the final chapter to this sad saga. For our present purposes - the consolidation of the story so that it may be more easily shared, the following background is provided:

Background

Sometime in early 2015, Archbishop Apuron, the Archbishop of Agana, Guam, hired a Denver law firm to render a favorable opinion on the status of title to the property currently occupied by the Redemptoris Mater Seminary (RMS) and Blessed Diego Institute. He published excerpts from that opinion in the U Matuna, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Agana, on April 19, 2015. 

Why did Archbishop Apuron hire an expensive law firm, not licensed to practice in Guam, to do this?

Since the January 2012 termination of the services of the four members of the archdiocesan finance council who had opposed the conveyance of title to said property to RMS, there has been much speculation and doubt as to whether or not the property (valued at as much as 75 million dollars by the archdiocesan legal counsel) was still part of the patrimony of the Archdiocese of Agana.

The Redemptoris Mater Seminary is a legally constituted Guam corporation, and legally separate from the Archdiocese of Agana. Conveyance of title to RMS would place said property and its value outside the patrimony of the Archdiocese of Agana, meaning, as it is phrased in Canon 1295, the "patrimonial condition of the diocese" would be "worsened."

In January of 2015, a deed restriction on said property, quietly recorded by Apuron in November of 2011, was discovered. The discovery heightened the already highly suspect status of the title to property as the deed used key language which, in Guam law, specifically denotes the alienation of property.

If it could be proved that Archbishop Apuron had in fact alienated the 75 million dollar property from the patrimony of the Archdiocese of Agana, then he could be removed by Rome from his position as Archbishop of Agana for the flagrant disregard for church law and causing grave harm to the patrimonial condition of the diocese entrusted to his care.

With this background, let us proceed.

I. The Denver Opinion

The U Matuna Story (The truth about the property of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary - April 19, 2015), carried the following footnote : "The whole document can be consulted at the Chancery."

Our first clue that there is something to hide was that the full document was not posted on the Archdiocese's website for all to see. If the document had actually exonerated Archbishop Apuron's actions, we can be sure that he would have made sure everyone of us could read every word.

By comparison, Apuron printed every word of the decision by the LA Archdiocese regarding Fr. Wadeson, enabling Apuron's reinstatement of Wadeson, in the same issue of the U Matuna. And we all know how Apuron spared no space in publishing every jot and tittle he could publish about Msgr. James Benavente. In fact, both the statement about Wadeson and the infamous Internal Review report blasting Msgr. James are both prominently featured on the archdiocesan website under "Featured Posts"!

Our second clue that there is something "to hide" was when a Concerned Catholics of Guam, Inc. (CCOG) attorney went to the Chancery to "consult" the document and was told that not only could he not have a copy, take no pictures, and take no notes, but that he would have to stand at the counter and read the 20 page document in the presence of chancery staff.

Our third clue that there is something "to hide" is that the document is no longer available to the public. The CCOG attorney was told on April 23 that the document would only be available until 4pm on April 24. This was not what was printed in the U Matuna, so we have no choice but to believe that Archbishop Apuron really did not think anyone would come to look at it, and when someone did, he hastily made the decision to pull it.

Obviously, the document by the Denver firm DOES NOT do what Archbishop Apuron wanted it to do. But what did he want it to do and why?

II. The Answer

He needed it to show that he did not alienate the property when he recorded the Deed Restriction, restricting the property for perpetual use for use only by RMS and Blessed Diego Institute.

Why did he need to do that?

He needed to show that he did not alienate the property because alienation of property of that value requires the consent of both the diocesan finance council and the college of consultors. In fact, Archbishop Balvo, who at the time was the Apostolic Delegate, wrote Apuron on March 7, 2012, reminding him of this:
Regarding the matter at hand, as indicated in the various paragraphs of Canon 1292, to carry out acts of alienation, consent is required not only from the diocesan finance council but also of the college of consultors. If these do not give their consent, the diocesan bishop is not free to do as he pleases. 
According to Canon 1295, the consent of the same bodies is required in any transaction which can worsen the patrimonial condition of the diocese. 
Archbishop Charles Balvo, letter to Archbishop Anthony Apuron, March 7, 2012
In addition, as per Canon 1292"The permission of the Holy See also is required for the valid alienation of goods whose value exceeds the maximum sum." The "maximum sum" as set by the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (CEPAC) is Two Million Dollars, and of course the subject property is worth far more than that.

Thus, if it is proven that the Deed of Restriction on the Yona property, filed by Apuron on November 22, 2011, does in fact alienate the property from the Archdiocese of Agana, then Apuron has violated church law by failing to obtain the consent of the finance council, the college of consultors, and most of all, the Holy See.

If in fact he did that then Canon 1296 prescribes the consequences:
Can. 1296 When alienation has taken place without-the prescribed canonical formalities, but is valid in civil law, the competent authority must carefully weigh all the circumstances and decide whether, and if so what, action is to be taken, namely personal or real, by whom and against whom, to vindicate the rights of the Church.
In short, since the suspect violator is the bishop himself, the competent authority is now Rome, and church law requires Rome to decide "whether, and if so, what action is to be taken...to vindicate the rights of the Church."

Before Rome can take action, however, it must be determined at the civil level whether or not alienation actually occurred. Thus, Apuron is attempting to dissuade us and Rome that it did not occur. However, the firm he hired is not licensed to render a legal opinion on a Guam transaction. So the story in the U Matuna was another attempt to play us for fools, and Rome too.

However, we will NOT be played for fools. The CCOG has hired its own Guam attorney, a specialist in real estate transactions, to render a valid opinion. More on that later, but this is why the chancery would not let him take any notes from the Denver opinion and has since hid it away from public view.

There's another angle to this that must be considered. The real issue, as Archbishop Balvo stated, is whether or not the Deed Restriction "worsens the patrimonial condition of the diocese." This is Rome's real concern because Rome recognizes that the patrimony of a diocese is not a bishop's personal property but property to be held in trust and used for the benefit of the entire diocese.

Whether or not Apuron's deeding away control of the subject property to a corporation separate from the Archdiocese of Agana worsened "the patrimony of the diocese" could easily be determined by simply asking whether or not the Yona property appears on the balance sheet of the Archdiocese of Agana, which is probably why Apuron refuses to post the financials of the archdiocese.

Apuron has already admitted that it does not, arguing only that he is still in control of the property and that his name is on the title. However, one doesn't have to be involved in a million dollar transaction to know that if you assign property for use by another entity, no lending institution is going to count it amongst your assets.

III. The Telltale Heart

Apuron and his handlers must have known that the Deed Restriction, recorded secretly with Land Management on November 22, 2011, could not be kept a secret forever.

Things were getting hot. In late 2013, this blog exposed the fact that Redemptoris Mater Seminary (RMS( was not only not forming diocesan priests as we were told it was, it was never intended to: it's Articles of Incorporation stating specifically that RMS existed to form priests according to "the life and practice of the Neocatechumenal Way" which is oriented towards breaking parishes into small communities.

Comically, Apuron admitted this was the truth by hurriedly establishing another seminary (St. John Paul II Seminary in Malojloj, Guam) that is supposed to do what RMS said it did, but never did: form diocesan priests. But of course this second seminary was nothing but a ruse as well, and has proceeded to ruin even more lives.

Throughout 2014, through this blog, we kept the pressure on and by the end of 2014, Apuron was desperate. In addition to the millions donated by the original donor, many more millions had been raised from Guam Catholics over several years for RMS for what they thought was its mission.

Once the Catholic public learned the truth about RMS, there was a backlash: a campaign to STOP THE MONEY. However, JungleWatch cannot take all the credit for the backlash. Most of the credit goes to Apuron, who, in an effort to squash us, began rabidly ordaining extremely ill-formed and unqualified presbyters from RMS, who, quite without the help of JungleWatch, proceeded to offend and alienate the people who had been paying their way for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, JungleWatch began exposing the possibility that Apuron had violated church law by deeding the property to RMS. We did not know yet about the Deed Restriction, but there was plenty of evidence that something untoward had happened, especially the extremely ill treatment of Mr. Richard Untalan and the other members of the former finance council.

By December of 2014, Apuron must have been feeling the heat because he wrote a letter to a certain person in St. Louis stating (names are left out):
"I am writing this letter to assure you...and your very generous benefactors who will always remain anonymous* that the donation given to the Archdiocese of Agana when the former Accion Hotel in Yona, previously owned by a Japanese Company was bought by the Archdiocese of Agana in which the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Seminary of Guam has, is and continues to be used as a seminary, but, in title belongs to the Archdiocese of Agana." 
* The reason he says the donor will remain anonymous is because the anonymity of the donor was a condition of the donation. However, Apuron had already revealed the source of the donation almost immediately after it was received, causing serious financial harm to those who had procured the donation because their regular donors believed that their donations had been abused.

First, why is Apuron writing to the benefactor (actually the benefactor's representative) TWELVE years later to assure the benefactor that the donation was used for what it was intended (the donation was given in 2003)?

Was it perhaps, like Poe's "Telltale Heart", that the secret Deed Restriction was ticking louder and louder in Apuron's conscience? After all, to cover his trail, he had viciously dismissed four people (the finance council) who had served him faithfully and well for many years, he had accused Mr. Untalan of "nonsense", and had "sicked" his Vicar General after him to accuse him of a "vulnus", which was a veiled threat of excommunication.

And then came JungleWatch, with exposure after exposure. The ticking got louder and louder. TICK, TICK, TICK TICK!

IV. Apocalypse Now

Let's review the key points.

On November 22, 2011, Archbishop Apuron, without the approval or knowledge of the archdiocesan finance council, the college of consultors, or the Holy See, filed a Declaration of Deed Restriction with the Department of Land Management of the Government of Guam, restricting the former Accion Hotel property for the sole use of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and the Blessed Diego Institute, in perpetuity.

On January 12, 2012, Archbishop Apuron terminated the service of the four members of the archdiocesan finance council who had previously voted against the conveyance of title of said property to RMS.

In late 2013, JungleWatch began a series of posts questioning the status of said property.

In January of 2015, the Deed Restriction was discovered and made public.

In the same month, a Vatican delegation arrived on Guam to conduct an Apostolic Visit. The former members of the finance council met with the delegation and provided them with a copy of the Deed Restriction as well as the history of the archbishop's attempt to convey the title to RMS outright and their subsequent termination from the council when they refused to do so.

JungleWatch does not know if the Visitators confronted Archbishop Apuron on the matter, or, if they did, what they advised him to do. But it seems that something happened because Archbishop Apuron suddenly got busy trying to cover his tracks.

On December 18, 2014, Archbishop Apuron released a statement to the press "welcoming" an upcoming "pastoral visit" from the Vatican. While it was made to appear as simply "pastoral" and as "fostering communion", it was quite clear, both from the names and positions of the people who were coming, and what they did when they actually got here, that the nature of the visit was investigatory.

Since the statement to the press was made on December 18, 2014, Archbishop Apuron, no doubt, had received word at least a day or two before. Apparently he knew he was in trouble and he wasted no time because on December 17, 2014, the day before the statement to the press, Apuron shot off a letter to TDR*.

*TDR is the acronym we will use to designate The Donor's Representative. The donor is the person or persons who anonymously gave the approximately 2 million dollars to the Archdiocese of Agana "for the purchase of a defunct hotel, for the purpose of a seminary" (exact words of the donor's note).  The donor, who wanted to remain anonymous, made the donation through an intermediary whose identity we choose to protect. So we will simply designate that person as TDR.

In his December 17, 2014 letter to TDR, Apuron, aware of the impending visitation from Rome, writes:
"I am writing this letter to assure you...and your very generous benefactors who will always remain anonymous that the donation given to the Archdiocese of Agana when the former Accion Hotel in Yona, previously owned by a Japanese Company was bought by the Archdiocese of Agana in which the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Seminary of Guam has, is and continues to be used as a seminary, but, in title belongs to the Archdiocese of Agana."
Obviously there is no reason for Apuron, 12 years later, to be writing TDR to assure him/her that the property still belongs to the Archdiocese of Agana...unless of course, it doesn't and he is actually setting up TDR for something else.

That "something else" came on January 29, 2015, when Apuron again wrote to TDR:

"May I ask a favor...send me a letter of support for the donation made by your donors and benefactors to the Archdiocese of Agana in 2003 for the purchase of the Accion Hotel for the Archdiocese of Agana for the purpose of housing the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and the Theological Institute for the formation of priests."

Apuron had obviously gotten spanked by the Roman visitators and now was so desperate to exonerate himself that he asked TDR to lie for him (as we shall see). In fact, he was so desperate that he not only asked TDR to lie for him, he actually wrote out the lie for him/her to sign and simply send back. We know this because in TDR's February 2, 2015 reply to Apuron, TDR writes:

"In conclusion dear Archbishop Apuron, I cannot sign the letter you drafted for me because it would not be in fact truthful."

We are tempted to say "amazing" in relation to Apuron's audacity to ask TDR to lie for him - and if you knew who TDR was you would not be just amazed, you'd be aghast! But because we have grown so used to Apuron's lies this appears to be just one more. But it is not just "one more". It is the Ultimate Treachery! We will come back to that in a minute. For now, let us read what else TDR told Apuron:

Dear Archbishop Apuron, in 2003 when the said "funds" were donated, we had absolutely no knowledge of these entities (like Redemptoris Mater Seminary, the Neo-catechumenal Way, or the Theological Institute for the formation of priests), not to speak of any specific intention whatsoever to relate this donation to them. In fact, we did not even know of these lay organizations, so naturally we could not direct anything to them by name. It was our sole intention to help the people of Guam to provide a property for a seminary for the formation of priests for the Church in Guam. At that time, in 2003, we were made aware of the burden you were carrying in regard to the purchase of this property for a seminary. It was our desire to help relieve you of this concern and enable the Archdiocese to conduct a seminary in the former hotel. This was our intent. It was not our intent that the Archdiocese place on the hotel property, purchased with our donation, a deed restriction, in perpetuity, whereby the property is now dedicated to be used only for the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and Theological Institute. As a result, we felt "very ill at ease" when we came to know about the "Deed Restriction" which gives the Redemptoris Mater Seminary control of the said Property in "perpetuity". The phrase, "in perpetuity" implies that the seminary now belongs to the Neocatechumenal Way Christians, which is the only group permitted to use the property now or in the future.

The letter then concludes:

In conclusion, dear Archbishop Apuron, I cannot sign the letter your drafted for me because it would not in fact be truthful. We are keeping you, the seminarians and all the people of Guam very much in our prayers. May the Spirit of love bring peace and unity to all. Sincerely in Christ, TDR.

We have labeled this series of posts THE ULTIMATE TREACHERY because this is not just another Apuron-concocted lie. This is an attempt by Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, Ofm, Cap. DD Metropolitan Archbishop of Agana to LIE directly to the Holy Father. 

In 2012, Apuron had been warned by then Apostolic Delegate to Oceania, Archbishop Charles Balvo, that he was NOT free to do as he wished in the matter of this property. Church law protects the faithful from the actions of rogue and ruthless bishops by requiring, when it is a matter of harming the "patrimony" of a diocese, consent from a series of governing bodies, in this case, the archdiocesan finance council (which he fired), the college of consultors (who were never consulted), and the Holy See (whose approval he never sought).

Apuron has bragged for months that "no can touch" him and he has scoffed and sneered at our efforts, be they blog posts, letters from the CCOG, or the now more visible public demonstrations. He felt safe in treating us this way because he knows that only the pope can remove him, and there has to be SERIOUS reason for a pope to remove a bishop. 

Brazenly violating canon law and intentionally harming the patrimony of this diocese to the tune of tens of millions of dollars is SERIOUS reason. Thus Apuron's only hope was to get TDR to say that he/she gave him the money for RMS in the first place. And as you can see TDR did NOT go along with Apuron's vile ruse, concluding his/her reply with the words: "because in fact it would not be truthful."

Failing this, Apuron got even more desperate which is why he got the Denver law firm to render what he tries to make look like a favorable opinion. But when the CCOG sent their attorney to look at the actual opinion, every effort was made to make it difficult for him (no notes, no copies, no pictures, and he had to stand and read the whole 20-page document in the presence of chancery staff), and then it was immediately withdrawn from public inspection.

I cannot release the actual copy of the letter from TDR, but Archbishop Apuron knows that every word of this is true, and so does Rome. And they know where to get the letter. 

Holy Father, Archbishop Apuron has attempted to treat you like he treats us. We suggest you find out why...and soon.

The above was compiled by Tim Rohr, JungleWatch.info

POSTSCRIPT

On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, Mother Dawn Marie, the Mother Prioress of Guam's Carmelite Monastery, after moving her community out of Guam, made a statement to the press confirming all of the above.

Following is the news report by the Pacific Daily News as published on the same day.

Carmelite nuns donated the $2 million used by the Archdiocese of Agana to buy a former hotel in Yona, and they considered suing the church after finding out the property was not being used by the archdiocese, but for a seminary operated by the Neocatechumenal Way, said Mother Superior Dawn Marie, of the Carmelite Monastery on Guam.

She said Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, the Rev. Pius Sammut and others in 2014 tried to get the Carmelites to lie, by saying the Carmelites had purposely earmarked their gift for the use of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and for the Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores Catholic Theological Institute for Oceania.

The mother superior was the person who got the Carmelite nuns in the United States to donate $2 million to the archdiocese on Guam to buy the Yona property over a decade ago.

She said the identity of the donors at the time was supposed to be anonymous, but Apuron and others violated that agreement from the beginning, she said.

One day in 2014, she was in the United States having an informal meeting with the leader of the Carmelite Sisters community that donated the funds when that leader received an email from Apuron. The two mother superiors read Apuron’s email at the same time, she said.

“Archbishop Anthony Apuron had asked the sisters who had given the gift to say that they had purposely earmarked that gift for the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and for the San Vitores Theological Institute of Oceania. That was completely untrue,”  the Carmelite mother superior said during a news conference at the Carmelite monastery in Tamuning Tuesday morning.

Mother Superior Dawn Marie said when she came back to Guam, she personally asked Apuron about his questionable decisions related to the property, including his decision to reveal that the nuns had donated the money.

“Why did you send that letter indicating that we had donated that property and allowing for the deed of restriction when you know it was not true? He reacted, he said, ‘I’m not the one who did it. Pius and they did it. They framed the letter,'” the Carmelite mother said.

In November 2011, Apuron signed a declaration deeding away the property indefinitely to the seminary and the theological institute. Apuron sent the letter to the donors when his decision became public knowledge. His 2011 decision was against the advice and consent of the Archdiocesan Finance Council, which he later on fired en masse.

The mother superior said the Carmelite sisters thought about filing a lawsuit because of what Apuron, Sammut and others did but decided against it to avoid further problems within the archdiocese. But she said the truth has to be told.

She said it’s “too bad” that Sammut and others prepared the letter that Apuron sent. She said the Carmelite sisters in the states completely denied the request and sent a letter back to Apuron, stating the nuns were not aware of the seminary and the theological institute, and that they don’t appreciate the deed of restriction in perpetuity put over the Yona property.

“Pretty toxic environment for the nuns to live in. Because the gift was an anonymous gift from the very beginning, that anonymity was not respected by the archbishop. So many people knew and misunderstood that the Carmelites in Malojloj had donated the $2 million. The Carmelite community in Guam hadn’t even have a savings account,” she said.
She said Sammut and others had talked about the donor of the $2 million for years, as well as the shadow person who made that donation possible.

“Father Pius said that ‘he’ was the donor and he is still alive and he may cause a lawsuit. There was no ‘he.’ It was a she and it was me. So the truth of where the money came from is as easy as that. I didn’t want to engage myself any further. I wanted to preserve my quiet life,” she said.

Sammut, former rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, was sought for comment on Mother Superior Dawn Marie’s statement but no comment was obtained as of press time. Sammut said in October he is an itinerant catechist, part of the team responsible for the Neocatechumenal Way on Guam.

For years, the Neocatechumenal Way controlled and owned the seminary and theological institute which both sit on the property the Carmelite sisters paid for.

Carmelites left Guam

The Carmelites, who have been on Guam since 1966, have left because of what the mother superior described as a "toxic environment" when Apuron agreed to put a deed of restriction on the Yona property in November 2011, as well as the multiple sex abuse allegations against Apuron, she said.

Apuron is now facing a canonical trial in Rome over these alleged sex abuse of minors in the 1970s.

The mother superior said she is the last Carmelite on island. The rest left in June and moved to another Carmelite monastery in California.

“The move to go to California was a very difficult one,” she added.

The Carmelites left Guam on the 50th year of the Carmelites’ arrival on island, from Malaysia. They had a seminary in Malojloj for 40 years until they moved to Tamuning around 2006.

As of today, there is no longer a contemplative monastery on Guam, she said.

She said she has decided to come forward now about the Yona property and the $2 million donation since the rest of the Carmelite sisters have already left the island, and the Carmelite sisters in the states want the archdiocese to take back full control of the Yona property.

A few hours after Mother Superior Dawn Marie talked to reporters, the Archdiocese of Agana called a separate news conference to announce that the archdiocese, under Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes, has taken back full ownership and control of the Yona seminary property without filing any lawsuit.

The timing of the two press conferences was only coincidental, they said.

The mother superior thanked Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai for his help. She said the Carmelite sisters will continue to pray for the archdiocese and Guam.

“At some point, when you fall down so flat, there’s only one way to go, the direction has to be up,” she said, adding that she hopes Guam will have a new era when Archbishop Byrnes arrives on island.

PDN online story found here
PDF copy found here

Related news coverage found here, here, here, here, and here.

The following is a video of the conference posted by the Pacific Daily News.





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