Guam - The Archdiocese of Agana has issued a statement in response to a letter Father Paul Gofigan issued to his parishioners to explain why he had been replaced by Father Dan Bien as Parochial Administrator of Santa Barbara Church.
Father Gofigan says he was asked to resign by Archbishop Anthony Apuron because he believes he failed to terminate an individual as instructed two years ago because of his criminal past. Fr. Gofigan in his letter stated that although he disagreed with the termination "out of obedience to the Archbishop, I had to comply," he wrote.Fr. Gofigan says the matter could have been cleared up if they had simply spoken to him and conducted a basic investigation. Fr. Gofigan said he would not resign and has since requested a hearing so that he can be allowed to defend himself and save his vocation as a priest.
In the press release from the Archdiocese it states that the Archbishop is currently off island. It further states that Father Gofigan is still a priest at this time.
The Archdiocese issued the statement to "set the record straight". Here are the facts the press release stated:
I. INVESTIGATION & COMMUNICATION -- Father Paul stated in his letter he was asked to resign despite following the Archbishop's directive. He wrote, "… this entire issue could have been cleared up if they had simply spoken with me, and done a basic investigation…"
The Archbishop DID in fact speak directly to Father Paul. He and the Vicar General, Msgr. David C. Quitugua, spoke to Father Paul in a meeting July 16 as he was informed of the decision.
There WAS an investigation on the matter. Father Paul was informed of this in that same meeting and in the letter he received July 16. He was given an opportunity to respond.
II. SAFETY OF CHILDREN FOREMOST
Father Paul was asked to resign because he disobeyed a directive from the Archbishop. In 2011, he was asked to terminate employment of an employee publicly known to have a sex offense on his record.
Father Paul asserts in his letter that he did terminate the employee. However, our investigation has revealed that the person continued to have an active presence at the parish as a volunteer. The person had keys to the facilities and had an active role on church grounds in different ways.
The press release went on to state that the Church has the utmost compassion for all people, even those who have fallen and may have committed crimes in the past. "We are all sinners; the Church is comprised of sinners. We welcome and do not bar anyone from our Masses," it stated.
According to the Archdiocese it pains the Archbishop to take this action, "however in light of the painful lessons the Church and all of society have had to endure in recent years – and still endures – we must abide by standards that will safeguard all children in our care. As Jesus teaches us, the youngest are among the must vulnerable among us and great care must be given to safeguard them. A school full of children is in very close proximity to the parish. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) students, Confirmation students and other youth groups are part of the parish," the press release stated.