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Parishoners protesting church controversies

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - Peaceful protests through prayer have been held throughout the week as parishioners gather in hopes their concerns will be heard.

As the delegation from the Vatican in Rome is wrapping up their one week stay here on Guam Catholic faithful from parishes around the island gathered outside the St. Anthony Spiritual Center in peaceful protest reciting the rosary this afternoon. Santa Barbara parishioner Dr. Larry Kasperbauer said, "It's not a happy time to have to do this kind of thing and to be here and I think I have said I am just amazed at the number that are growing each day coming public who were probably afraid to step out and be seen."

Throughout the week prayers have been organized by parishioners and the number of those faithful joining in on prayer has grown steadily sharing their concerns surrounding the controversies in the Catholic Church. Santa Barbara parishioner Becky Toves told KUAM News, "Its heart breaking it really is heartbreaking because we are faithful we are all Catholics and yet there are certain factions certain sects that have a mentality I think that has caused division in the church and part of the problem is the fact that our leaders in the church I think have not been forthright with some of the things that have been happening."

Over the course of a year the Catholic community has witnessed the removal of Father Paul Gofigan as pastor of Santa Barbara, the removal of Monsignor James Benevente as rector of the Archdiocese of Agana, the threat of censure of Deacon Steve Martinez and most recently the controversy regarding the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.

"We see thing in the newspaper we hear things from other people and I think it's a lot of misrepresentation going on and part of the reason why we wanted to organize this at least for myself was to give the people who were not able to talk with the delegates a chance to come together to unite and we are hoping that they will see that there are so many faithful out there," said Toves.

These controversies that have plagued the Catholic Church have become frustrating according to Toves bringing the catholic community to a breaking point. "We just want Rome to intercede and whatever they think is best for our island but really something has to change because we are at a breaking point," she said.

Through prayer Toves along with Kasperbauer hope the delegation will hear and help resolve the division within the church. The latter said, "I think the goal for most of the individuals is simply to get some truth some transparency to find out what's really going on because unless we can get some straight information we are going to have to believe what we are told and what we seem to think is going on."

Kasperbauer says the goal is not for or against anyone but simply to clarify and get unity once more among the catholic faithful allowing the concerns to be heard so that others may share their feelings and help bring about the change which is necessary to reunite the catholic community. They are hoping that their voices through prayer is heard not just by the delegation but by Archbishop Anthony Apuron.

The delegation is scheduled to leave on Sunday.
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