Vatican Officials to Hear Concerns

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News
January 5, 2015

Krebs.jpg Krebs: An inauguration ceremony for Gov. Eddie Calvo and Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, for their second term, was held at Adelup, yesterday. Archbishop Martin Krebs, the Vatican's representative to the Pacific islands based in New Zealand, right, attended the ceremony alongside Archbishop Anthony Apuron. Masako Watanabe/Pacific Daily News/

A local Catholic church asset -- a former hotel worth $57 million at one time -- may no longer be under the full control of the Archdiocese of Agana, government land records show.

The group Concerned Catholics of Guam first raised doubts publicly in July about the property's control, and now plans to show the documents to a visiting delegation from the Vatican this week.

Department of Land Management documents state that Archbishop Anthony Apuron assigned "perpetual use" of the property to the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Seminary and its institute for academic formation.

The seminary is under a four-member "board of guarantors," including Archbishop Anthony Apuron, according to the seminary's articles of incorporation. The majority of the board consists of three New Jersey residents affiliated with the Neocatechumenal Way's leadership: couple Giuseppe Gennarini and Claudia Gennarini; and Angelo Pochetti, the seminary's Articles of Incorporation states.

The Neocatechumenal Way is a worldwide movement in the Catholic church, but its practices and influence on Apuron are being opposed locally by certain Catholics, including members of Concerned Catholics of Guam.

The restriction on use of the property for a specific seminary, said Tim Rohr, a local blogger on Catholic issues and a realtor, "makes the land valueless to the Archdiocese of Agana since it now can never be mortgaged, sold, or used for any other purpose."

A legal counsel for the archdiocese in 2011 had also sent an email to the finance council expressing concern about the potential cloud over the former hotel property's title.

Apuron wrote to the former finance council officers on Nov. 16, 2011, that the title of the property remains with the archdiocese.

Apuron signed "the declaration of deed of restriction" -- allowing the seminary perpetual use of property -- on Nov. 22, 2011, against the advice of the archdiocese's finance council members at the time. The council members who opposed Apuron's stance on the real estate property were fired, documents state.

The land documents have surfaced as the Concerned Catholics urged island residents to help them gather proof to demand financial transparency and leadership accountability from the local archdiocese.

Concerned Catholics' president, Greg D. Perez, is scheduled to have a private meeting with the Vatican delegation.

Perez said he hopes the Vatican would intervene because repeated calls for the local leadership to address a number of concerns from the Catholic community haven't been heard.

"We need their help," Perez said.

The Vatican visitors include Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican office to whom some of Guam's Catholics sent letters over the past several months, seeking an investigation of the various controversies in the local archdiocese.

Archbishop Martin Krebs, the Vatican's delegate to the Pacific islands, and who resides in New Zealand, also is part of the delegation.

Current and former members of the Archdiocese of Agana's finance council are scheduled to have separate private meetings with the Vatican visitors also.

The former Accion Hotel cost about $57 million to develop, but when it failed as a hotel business, the archdiocese bought the 100-room oceanfront property for $2 million, more than a decade ago, Pacific Daily News files show.

Krebs' predecessor as Vatican delegate to the Pacific Islands, Archbishop Charles Balvo, had written to Apuron in March 2012 that if the archdiocese's finance council and college of consultors do not give their consent, Apuron "is not free to do as he pleases."

And if Apuron went against the finance council's decision, his action is deemed invalid, Balvo wrote.

Monsignor James Benavente, ousted rector of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica, who was among the fired finance council members, is scheduled to meet privately today with the delegation from the Vatican.

Benavente's supporters have sent letters to the Vatican, held a prayer rally and signed a petition for the reinstatement of the monsignor, whom they call "the people's priest."

Deacon Larry Claros, the Archdiocese of Agana's newly designated sexual abuse response coordinator, also is scheduled to meet privately with the Vatican delegation.

Last month, Claros told reporters he believes Apuron is innocent "for sure" of sexual molestation allegations. Claros made the statement before an archdiocesan committee formed to take a preliminary look at the issue decided against an investigation because no victim has stepped forward.

A 50-year-old man, John Toves, has accused Apuron of alleged abuse of a former high school co-seminarian and relative of Toves more than 30 years ago when Apuron was a priest.

Apuron has described the allegation as a "horrible calumny" and that he would file a defamation lawsuit against Toves.

The archdiocese hasn't responded as of press time yesterday as to whether the Vatican delegation's visit was meant in part to be a scrutiny. Apuron also is scheduled to meet with the delegation privately.

Last month, the archdiocesan leadership stated the visit is "meant to foster reconciliation and mutual understanding within the archdiocese."








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