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Parishioners disagree with archbishop's decision

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Parishioners at the Santa Barbara Church in Dededo are filled with mixed emotions when it comes to Father Paul Gofigan being replaced as their pastor. Parishioners like John Ishmael are baffled by Archbishop Anthony Apuron's decision.

"The archbishop should never, never attack Father Gofigan in as far as asking him to resign Father Gofigan has done an outstanding work here in Dededo putting the Dededo community as one," he said.

As we reported the archbishop terminated Father Gofigan because he did not follow a directive two years ago to fire a church employee who was known to have a sex offense on his record. Although Father Gofigan in a letter to his parishioners said he did terminate the employee, a press release from the Archdiocese of Agana said the individual still had an active presence at the parish and as a volunteer who had keys to the facilities and had an active role on church grounds in different ways. The church is located across the street from Santa Barbara Catholic School.

Ishmael is hoping the archbishop will reconsider his decision, saying, "He's doing an outstanding work here what he does he already complied with your instruction having this person volunteer work here I don't see any wrong doing in that."

Like Ishmael parishioner Corazon Orbano is also heartbroken over the events that have unfolded. "Its very sad for us I talked to some parishioners about it and they are very sad also knowing that Father Paul is a good priest here in the parish and we heard he has been doing so many good projects here and we saw it actually and then all of a sudden he will leave us that very, very sad for us," he said.

Father Gofigan has been replaced by Father Dan Bien as Parochial Administrator of Santa Barbara Church. 

Father Gofigan added that the church is open to all sinners and the law of the church is to love and respect your neighbor. He adds he was not disobedient to the archbishop and that above everyone he is obedient to Christ first.  Father David Quitugua meanwhile was not available to do an interview on behalf of the Archdiocese of Agana.

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