Priests demand clarification from archbishop - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Priests demand clarification from archbishop

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 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - There are new developments to report in the ongoing controversy in the local Catholic church as several priests have written a letter to Archbishop Anthony Apuron demanding clarification to statements he made in a press release to the media regarding the removal of Monsignor James Benavente.

Father Tom McGrath, Father Jeff San Nicolas, Father Mike Crisostomo, Father Patrick Castro and Father Gus Gumataotao are the latest in a string of faithful members of the island's Catholic community seeking answers and clarification from the archbishop specifically on the removal of Monsignor Benavente. Just a week after the monsignor's 20-year celebration of faith and service, the archbishop removed him from his duties as the rector of the Archdiocese of Agana and the director of Catholic Cemeteries.

The archbishop removed the monsignor based on allegations of financial mismanagement. His sudden ouster created an uproar in the local church many of whom gathered in prayer on the footsteps of the cathedral. Andy Balajadia said at the time, "We are losing confidence and trust in his leadership. I hope that by praying he will change."

Others who have worked alongside the monsignor on the church's finances also took the steps of the cathedral to defend the reputation of Monsignor James.  "We felt compelled to speak out after the archbishop issued a statement accusing Monsignor James of financial practices that were grave and detrimental to the archdiocese nothing is further from the truth," he said.

And speaking of the truth - it appears these five priests want the archbishop to tell clarify statements he issued in his press dated July 29.

In that press release regarding Monsignor James removal the archbishop wrote, "I informed the Presbyteral Council, the College of Consultors and the Archdiocesan Finance Council about this situation and they expressed their support'.

This quote apparently isn't exactly true-according to a letter they signed and sent to the archbishop and posted on the JungleWatch blog. Father Tom, Father Jeff, Father Mike, Father Patrick and Father Gus who are the members of the aforementioned council they "disagree" with his statement and its connection with his decision to remove Monsignor James.

They refer to a meeting they had with the archbishop on July 25 during which he presented the financial situation of the Archdiocese of Agana. The priests state the archbishop made no mention of his intent to remove Monsignor James. "We were not consulted on the matter and had no opportunity to discuss or raise objection to his removal and that at no point during these proceedings was a vote or question on the matter placed on the table for discussion to come to the conclusion of our "expressed support of your decision to remove him"

It's for this reason they request he issue a public clarification. As of today no public clarification has been issued since the priest wrote the letter two weeks ago on August 4.
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