Bashers falsely accused Apuron

By Mari Flor L. Herrero
Pacific Daily News
May 18, 2015

Archbishop Anthony Apuron

Concerned Catholics? Indeed, this group seems to be very concerned, but there is very little of "Catholic" about them. If they are so concerned about our Church and its people, why is it that they have not said one single word on this issue of same sex unions? As well as many other issues which are affecting our community big time, such as suicide, teen pregnancy, adultery, drug-addiction, homelessness, sexual and spousal abuse and so on.

Truly concerned Catholics should be about seeking, practicing and witnessing to the truth. Instead, this group appears to be concerned about their perceived lack of control over the archdiocese's top management, specifically its finances, and by extension their perceived lack of control over our archbishop's actions and decisions.

Thus, they do not hesitate to spread rumors and consistently bash our archbishop. They should change their name to "Archbishop-Bashers."

I still find it hard to understand why, from day one, these archbishop-bashers have been harping on the seminary property. Do they have a hidden agenda? Is it they want to transform it into a casino? It may seem a preposterous claim, but recall that one of the original parties interested in buying the property is a strong promoter for casinos.

Now they are spreading the silly lie that the archbishop handed the seminary to the Neocatechumenal Way. Why silly? Because the archbishop cannot alienate anything that is not his own; the Redemptoris Mater belongs to the Archdiocese.

This alienation, besides, cannot ever happen because the Neocatechumenal Way cannot, by virtue of its statutes, own property. These statutes are untouchable because the pope himself approved them.

However, I have been informed that the archdiocese, to dispel all these gossips, decided to conduct an independent, tri-prong investigation.

First, an ownership report. One of the most experienced title and escrow companies in Guam, the Pacific American Title, was asked to conduct a study. They did. This was their conclusion: The owner of the lots on which the seminary sits, belongs to the archbishop of Agana. Period. No transfer has ever occurred. So, the Concerned Catholics are wrong. Again.

Then, a civil law report. The archdiocese contacted the most prestigious law firm in the whole United States, the expert in civil-religious issues related to corporation soles. Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP in Denver, Colorado, was asked to give a legal opinion on the archbishop's powers, as sole member of the seminary. Their conclusions were that the archbishop of Agana retains substantial authority over Redemptoris Mater, as the archbishop is the sole member of the entity under civil incorporation laws.

They even added, "The method used by the archbishop under civil law of conveying beneficial use of the property to Redemptoris Mater while retaining legal title to the property within the Archdiocese of Agana is:

"a. consistent with canon law prescribed structures;

"b. is consistent with civil law methods widely used by numerous Catholic dioceses in the United States both historically and currently;

"c. and is a necessary civil law structure to reflect and enforce the archbishop's powers of jurisdiction over Redemptoris Mater under the Code of Canon Law.

"Absent the express approval of the archbishop of Agana, neither Redemptoris Mater nor any governing board or other person affiliated with such entity has the civil power or authority to cause the transfer or sale of the property."

Their final words are so explicit. "For those lawyers who regularly practice this specialized area of religious institutions law, including the intersection of canon and secular law, the conclusion reached here that the archbishop is in control of the property would not be at all controversial."

The Archdiocese asked for a further appraisal, this time from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts at the Vatican. This council is the highest authority in the Catholic Church in these matters.

Their pronouncement again pushed overboard these false accusations of the archbishop-bashers. In fact, the council concluded that "based on what has been said, it seems ... devoid of truth to speak of sale or alienation of a diocesan patrimony in this context." It is also clear that the present assignment of this patrimony to the seminary does not make it "a real alienation because, the owner remains the same, namely the diocese or the archbishop."

What is then the truth? Simple: The property is still safe and secure in the hands of the archdiocese. "All rumors, opinions and writings contrary to the aforesaid documents just show slanderous intentions aiming to disturb the communion of the people of God with grave moral responsibility of the authors."

Regrettably, as Mark Twain wrote, "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

These three reports are available to the public at the Chancery Office in Hagåtña (San Ramon Hill).


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