Archdiocese: Apuron in full control of Accion property
Archbishop Anthony Apuron remains in full control of a major asset of the local Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Agana stated yesterday.
At issue is the former Accion Hotel, which was once worth $57 million.
The property, which is being used as a seminary and an academic institution for seminarians, has become a focal point of recent criticisms against Apuron’s leadership.
Some of the archdiocese’s former finance council members and the Concerned Catholics of Guam raised the issue as two representatives of the Vatican are visiting this week.
Department of Land Management documents show that Apuron had signed a deed of restriction giving the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and an academic institution for seminarians “perpetual use” of the oceanfront property, a former 100-room hotel in Yona.
The seminary’s Articles of Incorporation also state that the nonprofit falls under a four-member “board of governors,” a majority of whom aren’t Guam residents. One of them is Apuron, but the majority on the board consists of three New Jersey residents affiliated with the Neocatechumenal Way movement’s leadership, Land Management records show.
The archdiocese’s statement to the media contends that the seminary’s directors and guarantors “are appointed exclusively by … the archbishop, and he can change them whenever there is need.”
And while the “deed of restriction” document Apuron signed in 2011 allows the Redemptoris Mater Seminary “perpetual use of the property,” the archdiocese stated, in part, that “the archbishop can designate it for other use in the future.”
At the same time, the archdiocese stated yesterday, future use of the property must respect the “the intention of the unnamed donors who gave money to acquire a building for the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Seminary and for the Theological Institute.”
Apuron’s decision was opposed by the archdiocese’s finance council members in 2011.
It could create “a huge cloud on the title of the property,” finance council members and the archdiocese’s legal counsel wrote to the archdiocesan leadership in January 2012. The former council members’ warning, it turned out, was too late.
Apuron had signed the document in November 2011, allowing the seminary “perpetual use of the property,” documents show.
Businessman Richard Untalan, former government of Guam budget director Joseph E. Rivera, Sister Mary Stephen Torres and Monsignor James Benavente were “terminated en masse” from the finance council after they objected to Apuron’s decision, according to the letter they sent to the archbishop in January 2012.
A donation to the archdiocese allowed it to snap up the former hotel more than a decade ago for $2 million. The property cost $57 million to develop, but a business sold it after it failed as a hotel operation.
The finance council at the time wrote to Apuron that the property, if sold by the archdiocese, “can eliminate the entire debt of the archdiocese” using just a fraction of the sale proceeds.
According to the archdiocese’s statement yesterday, the donation to purchase the former hotel was through the efforts of the Neocatechumenal Way — “not the other way around.”