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Moving day for Monsignor James

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - Today was moving day for Monsignor James Benavente who has been asked to leave his home of 20 years following his removal as rector of the Agana Cathedral.

This past Sunday's cathedral bulletin - said it all a picture of a church divided and the quote "for the lesser road was chosen". Today the controversy within the Catholic community continues as Monsignor Benavente was kicked out of the cathedral rectory - a place he called home for two decades.

His supporters and close friends like Jon Jr Calvo were in Hagatna today, helping him move out. He said, "For anybody to be uprooted after 20 years here at the Cathedral Basilica this is home for him it is home for many of the parishioners so to be abruptly removed at this time is very surprising so we wish him the best and we want to assure him that our prayers and support will always be there for him."

It was two weeks ago Archbishop Anthony Apuron shocked the local Catholic community. He removed Monsignor Benavente from his position as the rector of the Archdiocese of Agana and as director of the Catholic Cemeteries. The archbishop took it another step further shutting down the Cathedral Museum, a project the monsignor oversaw religiously to fruition.

Silent at first the archbishop issued a press release announcing he removed the monsignor for financial mismanagement.

Since his ouster it has caused a rift in the Catholic community. A prayer service was even held recently on the steps of the cathedral.

A Facebook page was also created in support of Monsignor James, referred to as The People's Priest.. And now according to Calvo there's also letters that have been written to The Vatican. In particular to  Archbishop Martin Krebs who is the Vatican's ambassador or apostolic delegate to the Pacific Islands. Krebs was recently on Guam to entourage and empower people to build bridges. "My understanding is that for those that have written some have received email responses I would say that they are informal responses but none the less Archbishop Krebs has responded to some of the inquiries," he said.

While it's not known what those responses were, or whether we'll see intervention from Rome, Monsignor James has denied any allegations of wrongdoing and is keeping faith. "I just want to thank the people of the Archdiocese of Agana and the parishioners of Cathedral Basilica for their continued support and that's really all I have to say," he said.

We have confirmed that Monsignor James has been appointed as parochial vicor of Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Tamuning.
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