Seminary Demonstration Stays Peaceful, No Arrests
By Jasmine Stole
Pacific Daily News
April 29, 2016
Three Guam Police Department officers were present Thursday morning at a peaceful protest held by Catholic Church members who continue to take issue with who owns the property of a Yona seminary.
The officers posted themselves between the demonstrators and the entrance gate to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Yona. There were just over a dozen protesters. The demonstration never became heated, and no arrests were made. One Guam lawmaker present at the protest said the community’s public safety resources might have been more useful elsewhere.
Law enforcement presence was expected. Police were called to a demonstration held at the seminary on Tuesday after protesters walked into the seminary, which is on private property, and requested to see the archbishop. Prior to Thursday’s protest, GPD spokeswoman Capt. Kim Santos said police planned to come to the demonstration.
The Yona seminary is a registered nonprofit corporation. Who controls the property has been a controversial subject among local Catholics.
Archbishop Anthony Apuron has said in issued statements that the archdiocese controls the property. However, some church members have disagreed, saying the Neocatechumenal Way controls the property.
The Neocatechumenal Way is a group within the Catholic Church whose members meet in small community settings to worship and learn about the teachings of the Bible. An emphasis is also placed on missionary work. Members of the Way emphasize that it is not a movement.
However, other members of the church have taken issue with how the group’s members seem to separate themselves from other practicing Catholics. The local archbishop’s ties with the Way have angered some local Catholics.
GPD officers from the Agat precinct were on site at the protest Thursday morning.
The group arrived at 8 a.m. and police were there, standing guard. As vehicles approached the seminary gate, police officers stopped the cars and spoke with drivers before the vehicles continued inside to the seminary.
Sen. Tom Ada was also at the protest, though he said he was not participating in his official capacity as a senator.
“I’m just concerned that we’re using very limited public safety resources for an activity such as this and instead there are probably other more important things out there in the community where their presence is needed,” Ada said.
Speaking of his conversations with fellow demonstrators, Ada said they are mindful of the law and do not want to cause problems.
Ada, who stayed with protestors outside the seminary gate, said his participation yesterday was a statement of his position on the issue.
“I’m not here as a curious bystander. I’m here recognizing that the line in the sand has been drawn and I’m out here to state very clearly, which side of the line I am on.”
Ada said the archbishop has been dodging the issue of the seminary’s property ownership for too long.
“He needs to come out and address the concerns that have been raised directly,” he said.
Apuron has issued official statements and published certificates of title for the seminary property. The property, according to Apuron, belongs to the archdiocese and he is in control of the property. However, the same certificates of title have been questioned and criticized.
High-level members of the Neocatechumenal Way, Giuseppe Gennarini and Claudia Gennarini, and Angelo Pochetti are on Guam, visiting from the U.S. mainland.