Guam – Father Paul Gofigan says he is now being represented by a canon lawyer and he intends to fight for his rights after being ordered to resign by Archbishop Anthony Apuron for allowing a convicted sex offender to continue his association with Dededo’s Santa Barbara Church.
Father Gofigan has refused to resign and instead he has requested a canonical hearing.
During an interview on the the K-57 “Patti on the Radio” program this morning, Father Gofigan said “when an Archbishop releases a Pastor there are procedures that need to be followed.” Father Gofigan said he thinks his rights have been violated by the Archbishop’s abrupt decision to terminate him.
“There was no due process to this whole thing,” said Father Gofigan adding “I want to fight this because I don’t want this to happen to any other Priest.”
Father Gofigan said he was deeply hurt by the Archbishop’s letter demanding his resignation saying he expected his “Shepard to be a little more Christian,” calling the Archbishop’s letter “very vicious.”
“I just want to point out all the illegalities in the procedures in how the Archbishop handled this,” said Father Gofigan. “I’m doing this because my rights have been violated and I should be given due process.”
Father Gofigan said that the Chancery has banned him from celebrating the mass and preaching and he is now only allowed to “con-celebrate.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not just going to sit back and be another decoration at the Altar,” said Father Gofigan. “I am bound by obedience to the Archbishop, but I am bound to Christ First.”
In explaining why he hired the man in the first place, Father Gofigan said the man was “very young, was on drugs, alcohol, and he did something very, very wrong.”
The man worked for 3 years at the Church as a maintenance worker, until he was instructed to terminate in him by the Archbishop in 2011.
“He raped an adult and he served his time,” said Father Paul, “…he has since repented. And when I met him I felt the contriteness in his heart and his repentance and his desire to come back to the Church.”
In a July 16th letter to the Santa Barbara Pastor, Archbishop Apuron accused Father Paul of disobeying his orders to dismiss the man writing “you have in effect caused grave harm to the parish by allowing such an individual with a publicly known sex-offense record to work in the Church thus exposing him to your parishioners, especially the youth.”
Father Paul maintains he did fire the individual as instructed by the Archbishop even though he disagreed with the order. But a statement from the Archdiocese Monday night explains that church officials subsequently learned “that the person continued to have an active presence at the parish as a volunteer. The person had keys to the facilities and had an active role on church grounds in different ways.”
As a result, the Archbishop accused Father Paul of causing “grave harm to the parish by allowing such an individual with a publicly known sex-offense record to work in the Church thus exposing him to your parishioners, especially the youth.”