The Catholic group said if Apuron signs the documents and returns the property to the archdiocese, the archdiocese can gain an asset which may improve the archdiocese's debt situation.
One wonders what CCOG meant when they made this statement. How exactly is the RMS supposed to improve the Archdiocese's debt situation? What are they planning? To sell the property and pay off the debts of the Archdiocese? The RMS property is worth more than the debts of the Archdiocese. Where is the rest of the money going, and who is going to profit from this sale? The Archdiocese have always been saying that the RMS property belongs to the Archdiocese of Agana.
CCOG claims that the RMS property is not under the Archdiocese of Agana. Do they have the title stating who it actually belongs to? Of course not. But the Archbishop has the title, which specifically names the ownership of the RMS property.
The following is a press release from Jacqueline Terlaje:
ARCHDIOCESE OF AGANA IS THE OWNER OF THE SEMINARY PROPERTY DESPITE NAYSAYERS
Hagåtña, Guam (November 17, 2015) - I am a trained lawyer, and have practiced law on Guam for more than 16 years. However, I do not need the benefit of my legal expertise to understand that one simply does not go knocking on the door of his neighbor’s house and insist that the house does not belong to him, nor does one demand by media frenzy that he will insist on an execution of a grant deed to compel compliance. I am a Chamorro woman, and my extremely local response to this insanity would be “Håyi håo?” (“Who are you?”)
Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s declaration, granting the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and Theological Institute of Oceania, a right to perpetually use the former “Accion Hotel” property for the formation of priests is a gift to our island. While certain persons continue to insist that the Seminary Property does not belong to the Archdiocese of Agana (hereinafter “Archdiocese”), and have insisted that the Archbishop return the title to the Archdiocese, their speculations, theories, and self-induced hysteria, are simply incorrect. It is not possible to “return” title to the Archdiocese because the Archdiocese is the legal owner of the Seminary Property.
Let me explain from a legal perspective why the Archdiocese of Agana remains the owner of the Seminary property.
The Declaration of Deed Restriction, which decreed the use of the property for the Redemptoris Mater seminary and for the Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores Theological Institute for Oceania, did not transfer nor alienate the Seminary property, but merely granted to the Seminary a perpetual use right in the Property. One need only look to the first line of the document, “Declaration of Deed Restriction”; the declaration itself does not profess to be a grant deed, quitclaim deed, warranty deed or other similar deed document, which conveys in whole the property to a grantee. The declaration professes to be a document of a limited purpose to grant a right of perpetual use. In fact, the declaration declares that the Archbishop of Agana, A Corporate Sole, is the “Owner” of the property, imposing on itself a restriction. By imposing on itself a restriction, the Archbishop, in the same way, can impose further conditions on himself as the Owner of both the Seminary Property, and the seminary itself. It is not necessary to be a legal scholar to know that the same authority who issued an administrative decree, can immediately issue the day after another administrative decree saying exactly the contrary. Thus, the continued attempts to fire rumors of a controversy over the title of the Seminary Property simply have no merit.
In order to address concerns about the ownership of the Seminary Property, over the course of time, the Archbishop has taken many steps to ensure that the ownership, control, and authority over the Seminary and the Seminary Property are in his hands:
1. Obtaining title reports which show that the title is in the name of the Archdiocese of Agana by the Archbishop of Agana, A Corporate Sole.
2. Seeking an opinion from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts (which is the highest judicial authority in the Roman Curia, who serves in the name of the Pope) which, regarding the claim of alienation or sale, concluded that “based on what has been said, it seems therefore “formalistic” and devoid of truth to speak of a “sale” or “alienation of a diocesan patrimony in this context”
3. Seeking the legal opinion of Lewis Roca Rothgerber, LLP (“Lewis Roca”) (a law firm with more than 250 attorneys), a preeminent authority in the U.S. dealing in non profit corporations law, operating in nine offices, in six states, which concluded, regarding the alleged loss of control on the property because of the Board of Guarantors, that “the Ordinary/sole member has kept all the powers including the faculty to exchange, to sell or not, to give as guarantee, to amend the statutes, to appoint/remove directors or guarantors, etc.”It is noteworthy, that Lewis Roca represents numerous religious organizations, including organizations within the Catholic Church, in the states of Colorado, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and other states, related to general corporate matters, corporate governance, civil incorporation, real estate and other areas related to the intersection of, and relationship between, canonical law and civil law.
Regarding the contrary legal opinion presented by attorney Jacques Bronze, Lewis Roca has declared that few legal offices are able to evaluate this specific area of law, “For those lawyers who regularly practice in this specialized area of religious institutions law, including the intersection of canon and secular law, the conclusion reached here that the Archbishop is in control of the Property would not be at all controversial.” Thus, while a legal opinion is simply an opinion of one, the Bronze opinion is simply wrong.
In every instance, the conclusion has been consistent – the Archdiocese is the legal owner of the Seminary Property; the Seminary holds a right to beneficial use of the property; and as the corporate sole member of the Seminary, the Archbishop retains complete authority over the Seminary; as the corporate sole member, he has absolute authority to appoint and/or terminate directors, trustees or guarantors, without the need of any further approval.
The Archdiocese of Agana is the legal owner of a property on which two institutions are located which are of immense importance for the future of our Archdiocese and for the whole Pacific region:
1. The Theological Institute of Oceania affiliated with the Lateran University, where 50 seminarians are now studying: 5 from the St. John Paul II Seminary, 45 from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of which 20 are coming from other dioceses of the Pacific (and paid for by their own dioceses).
2. The Redemptoris Mater Seminary which has already produced 17 priests for Guam in 16 years.These two institutions, thanks to the courage and the foresight of the Archbishop, guarantee the future of our Catholic Church here on Guam and also of other diocese which before were obliged to send the seminarians away, at an enormous cost. In many other dioceses of the Pacific, the Church is at great risk for the lack of priests. These invaluable gifts have been overshadowed by the repeated references to the monetary value of this property, as opposed to the intrinsic value that has already given much to our island and to other dioceses.
This then begs the question, “Why? Why do these people continue in this false charade? Is it ignorance, or is it malice?” Neither one is an acceptable answer. Or perhaps, the answer is somewhat more simplistic – perhaps the obvious explanation is greed; that there are some who prefer their blindness and prefer to remain in darkness, because there is a desire to cash in on the sale of the Seminary Property (for which a handsome commission would be garnished). Greed can easily blind even the smartest man from seeing the absolute truth to what this Seminary truly is for Guam and the Pacific, a vital organ of our Church.