Defrockment of priest sends shockwaves through Guam’s Catholic community

Archdiocese of Agana (PNC file photo)

The move to defrock former priest Adrian Cristobal has sent shockwaves through Guam’s Catholic community.

Some, however, say it’s about time.

Dave Sablan president of the Concerned Catholics of Guam, spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo Thursday morning about the organization’s long-standing concerns about Cristobal.

Concerned Catholics of Guam is a private organization that was formed in 2014 to address problems within the Archdiocese. They’ve sought to address numerous problems of the church over the years from sexual abuse to financial management issues.

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Sablan said the organization had long had suspicions that Cristobal was up to no good.

He said Cristobal seemed to avoid him every time he tried to speak with him about management issues at the Archdiocese.

Cristobal was once chancellor, which made him the third person down the hierarchy from the Archbishop as well as the operations manager for the Archdiocese.

Sablan said Cristobal did communicate with him via email but he said Cristobal’s emails didn’t seem truthful.

Sablan said that was just some of what turned out to be a long history of questionable practices by Cristobal.

“So at this point, now, with all of these things that have happened, plus sexual abuse claims that have come up, alleging that he committed all of this, and I think it must be true because they investigated it, the Archbishop now has laicized him or defrocked him from fulfilling his duties as a priest. As far as Concerned Catholics of Guam is concerned, we have known his history, we have suspected it, it’s now confirmed, and I think in the end it’s good for the church that he is no longer serving us,” Sablan said.

He added that although recent issues with priests on Guam, including Cristobal, have tainted the Catholic Church on Guam, he hopes that people are glad that justice is being done.

Sablan says there are many more good priests on Guam than bad and the fact that the Archdiocese is cleaning house makes him hopeful and optimistic.

“There’s always going to be temptation in the end. But you gotta have a strong character to resist it and to really do what’s good for the community. Like Father Ron Pangan, in fact, he’s down here in my parish in Santa Rita..he’s a really great guy. Beautiful sermons, very humble. I mean, this is the kind of priest we need around the island,” Sablan said.

He added: “We’ve got a lot of good priests. Unfortunately, these three that we just got rid of have tainted that. But we’re gonna recover. The gates of hell will never prevail against the church.”