Apuron disobeys Pope Francis' order on Yona property
Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai(Photo: PDN file)
Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron did not follow instructions by Pope Francis to rescind and annul a deed restriction that gives a seminary and a theological institute the legal right to use church property in Yona, according to temporary Guam Archbishop Savio Tai Fai Hon.
Hon, in a written statement Thursday, called upon the seminary and the institute to obey the pope’s directives and renounce, “without any litigation,” all rights to use the property, which belongs to the Archdiocese of Agana. “Such a courageous act of renouncing will certainly earn respect and recognition from the Holy See, as well as many faithful, the Presbyteral Council and myself,” he said.
The Vatican in June placed Hon in charge of the local church, pending an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Apuron.
The Archdiocese of Agana bought the former 100-room, oceanside Accion Hotel in Yona more than a decade ago for $2 million. It is one of the Guam Catholic Church’s largest real estate assets, estimated at between $40 million and $75 million.
The property is now being used by the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and the Blessed Diego Theological Institute.
Hon said he and the Archdiocese Presbyteral Council met with church members Aug. 11 to discuss the deed restriction, which, “has been a source of grave dispute and division in our church.” Critics have argued Apuron improperly gave control of the valuable church asset to followers of the Neocatechumenal Way. It is a recognized movement within the Catholic Church.
During the meeting, Hon said, church members illustrated how the deed restriction was done “without due process in conformity with church law,” and how the text of the deed restriction created ambiguity.
Hon said the property belongs to the Archdiocese, but its use was deeded away, indefinitely, to the seminary and institute. Creating the deed was an unusual act, according to Hon, who said use of property normally is conceded through an internal Ecclesiastical agreement.
“In truth, more than a year ago, the Holy See recognized the problems such a Deed Restriction created,” Hon said, and the pope instructed Apuron more than once to rescind and annul it.
“Clearly, this instruction has not been carried out accordingly,” Hon stated.
Former Sen. Bob Klitzkie, who has been critical of the way Apuron handled the Yona property, said Apuron and the people who worked with him to give the property away must be held accountable.
For years, the group Concerned Catholics of Guam has argued that Apuron gave control of the Yona seminary to the Neocatechumenal Way, but the Archdiocese, according to Klitzkie, fought tooth and nail to disprove the group’s claim. In late 2015, the Archdiocese released the property’s certificate of title to dispute assertions that the church no longer owns the property.
Hon said the church will provide an update on the issue as it progresses.
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