Guam – In a letter to the parishioners of Santa Barbara Church in Dededo, Father Paul Gofigan has announced his intention to seek a hearing rather than comply with the Archbishop’s demand that he resign as pastor of the Church.
The letter, dated this past Saturday July 20th [see below] explains that Archbishop Anthony Apuron asked him to step down because he believes Father Gofigan has allowed a man whom the Archbishop instructed him to terminate 2 years ago, to return to work at the parish.
The letter from the Archbishop is dated last Tuesday, July 16th [see below]. In it, Archbishop Apuron states “it is my sad duty to ask that you submit immediately your resignation from the office of pastor of Santa Barbara Church in Dededo” or “‘experience a more arduous and painful closure to your assignment at Santa Barbara Church.”
The Archbishop in his letter states that the man in question is a registered sex offender. PNC News has chosen to redact the man’s name.
“You disobeyed the order” writes the Archbishop in his letter, and as a result “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.”
However, Father Gofigan responds in his letter to Parishioners that the Archbishop and his advisers are under “the mistaken belief” that he did not carrying out the instructions to terminate the man’s employment. The issue could have been resolved if he had been contacted, writes Father Gofigan, but no one spoke with him, he writes.
Father Gofigan explains in his letter to parishioners that even though he disagreed with the the Archbishop’s instruction to fire the man, “out of obedience to the Archbishop, I had to comply.” He says he was required to terminate the man because of a crime the man had “committed over 32 years ago.” But he goes on to write that the man “had paid his debt to society, and had fully repented, and he and his wife and their two daughters were eager to return to the Church and embrace the Catholic faith.”
Father Gofigan says after “much prayer and quiet reflection on what our Lord Jesus Christ would do” he has decided “not to take the easy path and resign” but instead to seek a hearing so he can “defend himself and save my vocation as a priest.”
“I cannot in good conscience accede to their demands without defending my vocation as a priest and allowing the truth to be heard.”
Its not clear from his letter whether or not Father Gofigan continued a pastoral relationship with the man and his family. Nor does either letter say what job the man performed for the Santa Barbara parish.
There was no answer at the phone numbers listed for either the Santa Barbara Church of the Chancery Office for the Archdiocese.