ABOUT 30 Catholic parishioners, most from the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Toto, gathered in peaceful prayer in front of the Archdiocese of Agana Chancery Office in Hagåtña yesterday afternoon.
A letter from the chancery office to Rev. Mike Crisostomo, pastor of the Toto church, indicated Crisostomo was to meet with Archbishop Anthony Apuron at 3 p.m. yesterday which was also when the prayer service began. Parishioner John Taitano told the crowd gathered that the prayer service was for Crisostomo.
When Crisostomo arrived at about 3 p.m., he walked up the hill to the Chancery Office with the crowd praying the Divine Mercy chaplet following.
According to Catholic blogger Tim Rohr and the letter from Apuron to Crisostomo, at issue is the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal. Catholics upset with Apuron have stopped contributing to the appeal, according to Rohr.
“The results are not favorable,” the letter from Apuron to Crisostomo said. “I fear it will affect the chaplaincies of the hospital and prisons; the education of our seminarians and emergency needs of our priests.”
Among the people present at yesterday’s gathering was Concerned Catholics of Guam President Greg Perez. The Concerned Catholics of Guam have called for transparency within the church and urged Apuron to disclose archdiocesan financial information to local Catholics.
Perez said yesterday that the gathering was an event organized by the Toto parishioners and that the CCOG would offer support.
“It’s amazing that a lot of people are now just becoming aware of what’s been going on that’s been decades in the making,” Perez said. “But now they’re speaking up; now they’re questioning.”
Perez said the parishioners were gathering in the hope that Crisostomo would not be “mistreated” by Apuron.
The CCOG is conducting weekly meetings at parishes in Guam discussing the divide among the Catholic faithful.
Apuron has been criticized by Rohr and others for ousting Monsignor James Benavente as rector of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica. According to Apuron, Benavente was transferred for “financial mismanagement,” but former financial council members refuted Apuron’s allegations. Apuron also has been criticized for removing Rev. Paul Gofigan from his position as pastor of Santa Barbara parish in Dededo. Gofigan has said the archbishop slandered him.