Archdiocese discusses ownership of Yona seminary property - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Archdiocese discusses ownership of Yona seminary property

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Representatives of the Archdiocese of Agana addressed the controversy over whether the local church still owns the multimillion dollar Yona seminary. In a rare public appearance, church officials said they wanted to clear-up ongoing misconceptions that the archbishop gave away the valuable property to representatives of the Neocatechumenal Way.

Speaking before the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay, Fathers Adrian Cristobal and Edivildo Da Silva, and Attorney Jacquie Terlaje spoke of the many benefits to the Catholic Church of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary - news of which has even reached Rome. She detailed, "When we mentioned to Pope Francis that we have a redemptoris mater in Guam, he was very happy; his  eyes open, he was super happy because he knows the fruits of the redemptoris mater."

But eventually the focus of the discussion turned to the dispute between the archdiocese and a local group of concerned Catholics over who owns the seminary property.  Terlaje says the certificate title clearly states the archbishop is still the legal owner, noting, "So whether or not attorneys have different opinions on who owns the property the Department of Land Management, the authority on land registration has already rendered its determination, and that simply is the archdiocese owns the property."

Terlaje says there was a mistake on the 2015 title. There was no memorial, which is to restrict use of the property. She says the archbishop has corrected that. She added, "I want it to be a theological institute, and in this theological institute what the people of Guam will receive are priests, catholic priests who will continue to serve our island, and that's exactly what he did. He put a use restriction on the land itself. It never changed the ownership of the property."

But concerned Catholic Bob Klitzkie, an attorney and former senator, says the certificate of title was not updated to reflect the current true owner, because the most recent entry shows the property was transferred. "The whole certificate of title program at the Department of Land Management is a comedy of errors. The director has let the program get out of control. Just on this one particular piece of property, I've seen four different pieces of paper that say 'certificate of title' on the top," he shared.

Klitzkie added, "The language of the declaration of deed restriction there are words like 'transfer' and 'sell'. Those are words of conveyance. And when there are words of conveyance in a document it means that title is conveyed from one party to another in this case from the archbishop to the Redemptis Mater Seminary Corporation."

Terlaje says the articles of incorporation do appoint a representative of the Neocatechumenal Way to the board of guarantors, but under Catholic Church law, the guarantors' sole responsibility is to guarantee the mission. " So for example it's a Catholic institution - well, in a Catholic institution you can't have female priests. So if in this particular institution they decide that one day they're going to get together because the bishop is out of town and we're going to start ordaining women as priests, this board of guarantors is obligated to make sure that does not happen," she clarified.

Klitzkie said, "The four members of the board of guarantors have absolute power over that corporation. Three of those guarantors live in New Jersey. The generinis and Father Pucetti. The corporation can't do anything or refrain from doing anything without the guarantors permission. The real property that the Redemptoris Mater Seminary owns, that is that building out there in Yona is no longer the property of the Catholic Church in Guam."

And as the controversy rages on, Klitzkie says a lawsuit is likely.  So it might be that a court will determine who is the true owner.

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