Sunday, August 20, 2017
Some falsely accused priests such as Father Joseph Jiang are now fighting back through the civil justice system. Father Kevin Reynolds is another priest who was falsely accused by the RTE news (Ireland's local news media) of sexually abusing a teenage girl and fathering a child by her. Father Reynolds took a paternity test, which proved that he was not the father of the child. Nevertheless, the media labeled Father Reynolds guilty of sexual molestation and fathering a child before the results of the paternity test came out. Consequently, the priest filed a libel and defamation lawsuit against RTE. He also won the lawsuit. According to news report:
An action for defamation taken by a Co Galway priest against RTÉ over a Prime Time Investigates programme has been settled at the High Court.
Fr Kevin Reynolds, 65, the parish priest of Ahascragh in Co Galway, sued RTÉ in relation to the programme broadcast in May.
The programme falsely alleged that he had sexually abused a teenage girl in Kenya in 1982, fathered a child by her and abandoned the child.
The false allegations were also broadcast on RTÉ's Morning Ireland the following morning.
A paternity test showed Fr Reynolds was not the father of the child.
RTÉ has apologised fully and unreservedly to Fr Reynolds and has said the programmes should never have been broadcast.
As part of the settlement a lengthy statement was read to the court, a correction order has been made by the High Court and substantial compensatory and aggravated damages are to be paid to Fr Reynolds as well as his legal costs.
The amount of damages being paid to Fr Reynolds is confidential as part of the agreement.
The defamation action was due to begin this morning, but just after 2pm, Mr Justice Eamon De Valera was told the matter had been settled.
The lengthy statement outlining the terms of the settlement was read to the court by lawyers for Fr Reynolds.
The statement said RTÉ had been afforded every opportunity to review its position and remove any reference to Fr Reynolds before the programme was broadcast.
A Prime Time Investigates team first approached Fr Reynolds on 7 May 2011 without any notice and put the allegations to him.
He denied the allegations and his solicitors then wrote to RTÉ on a number of occasions repeating the denials.
He offered to undergo a paternity test before the programmes were broadcast, but RTÉ refused this offer.
The statement said RTÉ and reporter Aoife Kavanagh had choices: choices prior to the broadcast, choices in the manner in which the case was approached and the paternity test addressed after the broadcast.
The choices made by RTÉ were utterly misjudged and wrong, the court was told, and had an utterly devastating impact on Fr Reynolds.
He was removed from public ministry following the programme but returned to his parish last month.
The statement says Fr Reynolds suffered irreparable damage to his reputation.
His life was utterly altered and he was removed from his home and his community.
Upset and stress were caused to his family, friends, parishioners, fellow priests, members of his missionary society and members of the Catholic Church in Ireland and abroad.
Despite his vindication through the results of the tests and the retraction of the allegations by RTÉ, he still feels very upset by the damage to his good name, reputation and network of relationships in Ireland and in Africa.
The court was told that despite his reinstatement as parish priest he feels personally damaged and the scars remain.
His 40th Jubilee year as a priest has been marred by "the enormity of the abhorrent crime of which he was publicly and globally accused".
The statement read in court said RTÉ now stated that the programmes ought never to have been broadcast.
It said all the allegations against Fr Reynolds were baseless, without any foundations whatsoever and untrue and the allegations should never have been put to Fr Reynolds without prior notice.
It said the programmes should not have been broadcast following on the denials from Fr Reynolds himself and the denials in his solicitors' letter of 11 May.
RTÉ said the programmes should not have been broadcast in light of the fact that Fr Reynolds offered to undergo a paternity test before the programmes were broadcast, and RTÉ refused this offer.
RTÉ also said the programmes ought not to have been broadcast in light of the correspondence that had passed between RTÉ and Fr Reynolds' former bishop in Kenya, Bishop Sulumeti, stating the allegations were untrue.
RTÉ also stated Fr Reynolds was and always had been a priest of utmost integrity and had an unblemished 40 years in the priesthood and had made a valuable contribution to society in Kenya and in Ireland both in education and in ministry.
Fr Reynolds did not comment after the case but Fr Sean McDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests said they were delighted that Fr Reynolds had been totally and absolutely vindicated.
He said they were happy that the correction order made by the court would allow the public record to be corrected and was very important.
He said he hoped Fr Reynolds could now get on with the rest of his life.
Fr McDonagh said he hoped this would be a wake-up call. He said he would not prejudge the results of the review being carried out by Press Ombudsman John Horgan.
Mr Justice De Valera said it was clearly important that appropriate lessons from this affair were learned and acted upon.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Every year, the Neocatechumenal Way would hold its annual 2X2 convivience. In these 2X2 experiences, missionaries carry little to no money, no cell phones and with only the clothes they wear. They also do not take their cars with them. They are to rely on the providence of God. At the end of the retreat, they would return to share their experience with the rest of the group and later with their communities. Last month, the Archdiocese of Detroit in Michigan was visited by missionaries from the Neocatechumenal Way. The Archdiocese of Detroit was also where Archbishop Michael Byrnes came from. According to the Michigan Catholic, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Detroit:
With no money, cellphones or itinerary, D.C. group arrives to share the Gospel
Monday, August 14, 2017
It was brought to my attention that Tim Rohr is once again smearing the good name of Father Edivaldo and Father Luis Camacho. This is the third time he has misrepresented the stolen photo of Father Edivaldo's family and purposely depicted him as a womanizer, surrounding himself with young girls. It is unlawful to use someone's photo and deliberately misrepresent them in such a way so that their name and reputation becomes tarnished. Nowhere in Tim's post did he mention that the young girls in the photo are his family members. Rather, he implied that Father Edivaldo would be accused of being the next wave of abuse (See weblink here).
This is the truth. Below is the photo of Father Edivaldo posing with family members when he was home in Brazil and the note he sent on May 21, 2016:
This is the truth. Below is the photo of Father Edivaldo posing with family members when he was home in Brazil and the note he sent on May 21, 2016:
The following message was written by Father Edivaldo last year:
It was brought to my attention that a picture of my family and me was posted by the junglewatch blog again. The picture is of me with my nieces and my sister during a trip home. The junglewatch did not get my permission to use this personal photo. The junglewatch did not get permission from my sister and brother to use their children's picture. I am writing to give you permission to post the picture so that the truth may expel any misconception anyone may have because of the Junglewatch's intentional misstatements about me. I have also taken a screen shot of the post in junglewatch for the purpose of taking legal action.
Furthermore, the name of Father Luis Camacho is also being deliberately defamed by Tim. And all because he was upset with what was written in my previous post New Approach To Molding Future Priests. I guess that really got to him. :-) Father Luis was arrested of custodial interference by the Guam Police Department, but even those charges were cleared and GPD did not pursue the case. The only person who accused him of having sexual relations was Deacon Steve Martinez, who was a member of CCOG. ONLY those who are members of the Junglewatch Nation, which includes CCOG, LFM, and SNM, have been spreading the false information against Father Edivaldo and Father Luis Camacho. Father Luis was also cleared of any charges of sexual misconduct by the Holy See. See the letter from Bishop Ballen:
Deacon Steve Martinez, who was a member of CCOG, was the only one who publicly accused Father Luis of having sexual relations with a 17 year old girl. KUAM news reported of a plot to remove Archbishop Apuron. The Archdiocese claimed that Deacon Steve Martinez was part of that plot. According to KUAM news:
Below is an article by the Catholic Herald depicting the two by two evangelization experienced by the Neocatechumenal Way. When we go out in two by two, our goal was not to promote the Neocatechumenal Way, but to spread the Gospels to the people.
During the week of July 16-22, four men traveled within the Diocese of Superior in total dependence on God’s providence. Not accepting monetary donations and without any means of communication or pre-arranged accommodations, they set out ‘two by two,’ sharing the Good News of the Gospel.
Approximately 1,500 people were sent out across the United States after a weekend get-together, or convivence, with the Neocatechumenal Way. Participants were paired at random, including the diocese they would visit. The week concluded with a gathering to share how they had encountered Christ and been his instruments in their various locations.
One of numerous charisms approved by the Catholic Church in the 20th century, the Neocatechumenate movement provides post-baptismal catechesis and experiences of ongoing personal conversion. Founded in the 1960s in Madrid, Spain, the group seeks out marginalized and lukewarm Catholics and forms communities within parishes.
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Dave Thornton came from Detroit, where he lives with his wife, Patricia, and their 10 children. Luis Aragon, 23, was from Clifton, New Jersey. Simultaneously traveling in the southern part of the diocese were (last names unknown) David, an Italian seminarian studying in Miami, and Angel, from the Dominican Republic, studying at a Boston seminary.
Thornton and Aragon started the week seeking the blessing of Bishop James P. Powers. As he was unavailable, they sought out Mass and met up with Fr. Adam Laski, parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior, and its cluster parishes.
Fr. Laski, not recognizing the two men, said he was impressed by their reverent participation in the liturgy.
They spoke afterwards, and Fr. Laski directed them to St. Anthony’s in Lake Nebagamon, inviting them to stay the night in the parish center.
They spoke afterwards, and Fr. Laski directed them to St. Anthony’s in Lake Nebagamon, inviting them to stay the night in the parish center.
Aragon’s story included varying family situations: in some cases, forgiveness was needed, and in others, sacramental grace. These were an impetus for his personal conversion and prayer life.
“When we remove the suffering, there is no need to ask God for anything,” Aragon shared. “I saw the Resurrection in the rebuilding of my family. I needed to experience God’s fatherly love within my family.”
While the past six years have been a struggle to grow in and live out his faith, Aragon is currently discerning his life vocation. In his experience, “the world has a lot of things to offer. We have to find the meaning of our life; not a lot of people I know have. I had to really detach from the idea of being ‘a somebody’ in this life with education and money … eternal life is something we really need to share with people.”
Thornton, on his fourth ‘two by two’ experience, said his lukewarm faith was ignited through the teaching of Natural Family Planning. He and his wife have 10 children; the youngest was born with Down’s Syndrome.
“Our whole lives are called to be a two by two,” he reflected. “When we are confronted with real situations, do we depend on the Lord? Or do we try and solve things by ourselves?”
The ‘two by two’ experience is meant to be a microcosm of the dependence on God we, as Christians, are called to in our everyday life, he added.
“Depend on the Lord for everything; at the core that is what Christianity is about,” Thornton told the Herald. “Faith has to be more than a theory; it has to be something more concrete.”
Describing his youngest son, Alex, as “the glue that holds our family together,” Thornton said the 8-year-old’s existence is his proof of God’s existence. After recently receiving his much-anticipated first Holy Communion, Alex high-fived his siblings with excitement.
Thornton remembers telling his wife, “Everyone should be that excited to receive communion!”
Fr. Laski offered the pair a donation, which they politely declined. Noticing some strawberries a parishioner dropped off, he offered those instead, as the answer to their prayer at Mass: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
They thanked him and started walking, later accepting a sheriff’s deputy’s offer to drive them the last nine miles.
Speaking with the Herald about the encounter, Fr. Adam reflected, “How often do we see ourselves as vessels of the Holy Spirit and instruments of God’s providence?”
Newly ordained Fr. Samuel Schneider met the other ‘two by two’ pair at St. Joseph’s, Rice Lake. David and Angel had been trying to hitchhike south from Superior. Their experience of God’s providence was that someone finally pulled over to offer them a ride once they stopped thumbing for one. It made them reflect on how often we depend on our own abilities rather than trust God to care for our needs, they told Fr. Schneider.
Friday morning, they attended Fr. Schneider’s morning Mass. He introduced the men and asked if anyone was heading towards Duluth and could give them a ride. A local man, going there for business, was happy to help.
The two men, both seminarians, explained to Fr. Samuel that they had both grown up in lukewarm Catholic families. Through the invitation of others, they experienced a personal relationship with Jesus. That lead them to intentional discipleship, and ultimately to discern the priesthood. Neither has received family support in the process.
Summing up the purpose of their ‘two by two’ experience, Thornton said, “so many live tragically without an answer in Christ. It is the impulse of the Church to go out and evangelize because so many don’t know Christ, really know Christ. So many fallen-away Catholics who haven’t had an experience of the Resurrection beyond the cross, beyond the suffering. We have to go through the cross to attain the Resurrection.”
Sunday, August 13, 2017
The RMS priests are diocesan priests. We only call them RMS priests because they were formed in the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. Unlike other seminaries, the Redemptoris Mater Seminary is like a throwback to the medieval ages in that they are more strict in their rules and regulations. RMS is a fruit of the Second Vatican Council and are distributed worldwide. The characteristics of RMS are:
- an international character with vocations coming from different nations.
- a missionary spirit.
- they have a connection to the Neocatechumenal Way.
The disciplinary style of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary has been noticed by the Vatican. According to the article below:
"When a Vatican office summarized a 2005-06 study of U.S. seminaries seeking answers to the clergy sex abuse scandal, it recommended that seminaries make their rules more demanding so men shed a "worldly style of life" - and it suggested that Redemptoris Mater seminaries were examples worth following."
Many of the seminarians from RMS came from the Neocatechumenal Way. The Way not only inspires boys into the priesthood, but also girls into the convent. The article below explains how seminarians live their life in the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.
The seminarians' wallets are empty, except for driver's licenses and insurance cards. To buy cigarettes or clothes or anything else, they must ask their superiors for money - an exercise in obedience and a reminder that material things aren't important.
They have virtually no time alone, on or off campus, and are required to travel in pairs, "two by two," like Jesus' disciples. They live in a world without cell phones or personal computers, and their evenings end promptly at 10.
No Roman Catholic seminary is a resort. But few men who study for the priesthood endure the sort of rules that govern life at the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation.
Redemptoris Mater is a new experiment in molding Catholic priests who are faithful to church teaching and authority and zealous in their desire to lead other Catholics down that same road.
On the one hand, the rules are a throwback to 50 years ago, when would-be priests led regimented existences apart from the rest of the world. But Redemptoris Mater men also teach the faith at parishes and spend two years on mission trips, knocking on doors looking for Catholics in Bronx housing projects or Minneapolis suburbs.
The rules "are difficult to get used to, but it's because we come from this very individualistic society, where it's just me," says seminarian Joseph Toledo. "Those things have to be torn down. But it isn't like we're living in a bubble, either."
Toledo is the 29-year-old son of a Puerto Rican cabdriver and is one of the few American-born seminarians on the rolls in 2008-09. All told, there are 33 students from 14 countries.
In this, they reflect the changing face of the U.S. priesthood. Their greater ethnic diversity and hunger to show fidelity to the church are hallmarks of the coming generation of priests, according to a study released this month by the National Religious Vocation Conference, an organization of Catholic vocation directors.
In other ways, Redemptoris Mater seminarians stand apart from their peers.
The seminary is not the province of a religious order or a diocese headed by priests and bishops. Instead, Redemptoris Mater seminarians and the priests who oversee them come from Neocatechumenal Way communities, groups of 20 to 50 who bond over intense study and an evangelism foreign to most Catholics.
The Way, an international movement largely run by Catholic laypeople, is controversial; some critics say it is separatist and causes division in parishes, though its defenders deny it.
The group's approach to discipline at the seminaries it operates in the United States (besides Denver, Redemptoris Mater seminaries have opened in Boston; Dallas; Newark, N.J.; and Washington, D.C.) has attracted notice in important places.
When a Vatican office summarized a 2005-06 study of U.S. seminaries seeking answers to the clergy sex abuse scandal, it recommended that seminaries make their rules more demanding so men shed a "worldly style of life" - and it suggested that Redemptoris Mater seminaries were examples worth following.
The Redemptoris Mater House of Formation sits in a leafy residential neighborhood in southeast Denver, on a Spanish mission-style campus called the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization. The campus is also home to a larger seminary - St. John Vianney, or SJV - which trains men mostly from Colorado and the Midwest for the Denver archdiocese.
Seminarians from the two institutions receive the same education in the same classes, grounded in reverence for traditional Catholic teaching. Neither is an institution for questioning the church on contraception or the merits of the celibate, male-only priesthood.
But SJV mirrors contemporary seminary life. The men take notes on laptops, carry BlackBerries, live in single rooms, gather for TV watching in a common room, maintain their own blogs and spread news about snow-canceled classes on Facebook. Basically, that's the rule when it comes to contemporary Catholic seminary life in the United States.
The men of Redemptoris Mater - the name is Latin for "Mother of the Redeemer" - take notes on steno pads, must seek permission before hanging anything on their residence hall walls and share everything, down to a single e-mail address on a second-floor computer.
Jose de Jesus Garcia arrived at Redemptoris Mater a decade ago from Veracruz, Mexico. Although he was used to living on his own, he says, he quickly came to appreciate the rules.
Traveling two-by-two gave him someone to depend on, like a brother. Being penniless and depending on others was a lesson in humility - God would provide.
"If you see the rules as something that limits you from doing something, it becomes a heavy burden," Garcia said. "We see it as a way to help because our vocation, the same as marriage, is a daily fight."
As a teenager, Garcia drifted away from the church. He dated off and on. He went to college. Then his father persuaded him to attend Mass one Sunday, when someone from the Neocatechumenal Way was speaking.
The message was standard - Jesus loves you as you are and doesn't care about your past - but it touched something in Garcia. He returned to the church and eventually heard what he believed was the call to the priesthood. But he didn't heed it immediately, instead going to work for a pharmaceutical company before answering the call.
"I think the Lord, he is always a gentleman," Garcia says. "He called me that time, but he knew I was new, in a way, rediscovering my faith. He didn't push me."
Like the others, Garcia received his seminary assignment by lottery. His name was plucked from a basket and matched to Denver. Here, he took up a life structured around prayer and school. Bells ring in the hallway at 6 a.m., and a half hour later the men gather in a small chapel for morning prayer.
It's like a Mass set to a flamenco soundtrack. On one Wednesday, the men chanted psalms accompanied by Spanish guitar, gathered around an altar draped in white cloth and covered with fresh flowers.
"The Lord is passing by again," says the Rev. Federico Colautti, the vice rector. "He wants us to come with him. Are you ready to go? Are you ready to go with him? Because if you don't, you remain empty."
Most U.S. seminaries loosened their rules after the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, which brought a shift in how the Catholic Church perceived its place in the world, says the Rev. Donald Cozzens, writer in residence and adjunct professor of theology at John Carroll University in Cleveland.
"Before, secular life was looked at with great suspicion," says Cozzens, a former seminary rector. "With the Second Vatican Council, the world is God's creation. So our task then was to train seminarians to be in the world, to know it, but not to be of it any profound secular sense."
Some Catholics, particularly conservatives, believe vocations to the priesthood dropped drastically post-Vatican II, in part because seminaries allowed too much freedom, resulting in dissent and short-lived vocations. Others point to societal changes, including much smaller Catholic families that shrink the candidate pool.
The reasons for decline may be in dispute, but the numbers are not: The number of priests in the United States has dropped from 58,000, in 1965, to 40,000 today. The past decade has seen an uptick in ordinations; this year's class is 472, up from 442 in 2000. But it's still not enough to replenish the priesthood's aging ranks.
Colautti, the Redemptoris Mater vice rector, says the seminary's prohibitions on television, the off-campus buddy system and other rules are meant to foster communion, or togetherness - especially at an international seminary, where structure provides safe harbor for new arrivals, many of whom come from poor countries and suffer culture shock.
"Some people will say, 'You protect them too much,' " says Colautti, who is from Argentina.
"It's important to have a time in your life in which you experience that it's possible to live without TV, that you don't need the Internet. It's possible to overcome temptation, to have a celibate life, a chaste life. The society presents you these things as impossible. So if they're impossible, you don't even fight it, you say, 'What the heck?' The culture is always pressing, pressing."
Some seminarians, like Garcia, follow a twisting path to the priesthood. Others seem preordained.
Toledo, who arrived a few months after Garcia in 1999, started dressing like a priest for Halloween when he was 3, growing up in Bridgeport, Conn. He pretended to say Mass at a desk in his room.
Why the priesthood?
"It's really hard to answer," Toledo says. "There is no one reason. When God calls, you know, why not? I'm definitely not in it for the money or because I want to become a bishop. I'm not in it for the popularity because it's not always popular to be a priest. The 'why' is that people are suffering. People need the church, the sacraments. People need to be baptized. The sick need to be visited. There is a need."
For Toledo, that call means teaching people that the faith is not just a matter of attending Mass each week; it means living Catholic tenets on a daily basis.
"The world needs Christians," he says. "The world doesn't need half-baked Catholics. It's got plenty of those."
The rules and structure at Redemptoris Mater become as familiar as the motions of Mass. On a weekday last spring, Toledo was in charge of a team of seminarians assigned to kitchen duty. What most would view as a tedious chore is considered another step toward the priesthood, a lesson in humility and service.
When lunch was over, a seminarian stood to announce that he had a dentist appointment.
"Find someone to go with you," advised the rector, the Rev. Florian Martin-Calama.
Cozzens says a rule-bound atmosphere doesn't always breed maturity.
"There's a subtle message of 'We don't trust you,' " he said.
"Especially now, seminarians are older. You're relating to adult men like you might boarding school students."
But Redemptoris Mater seminaries aren't cloistered, either. When Cozzens studied for the priesthood, his main contact with the outside world was teaching at a Catholic elementary school one day a week.
Toledo, like the others, spent two years on missions. He was sent to Neocatechumenal Way communities in Gainsville, Ga., and the Minneapolis area. He knocked on doors seeking out Catholics, as the movement is premised on the belief that Catholics stop their religious education at an early age and need more.
Toledo befriended families at a suburban Denver parish, adhering to boundaries taught in seminary. When visiting a home, he'd play a game of Risk with the kids but wouldn't spend time alone with them. If a woman asked him to bless the family house, he would make sure her husband was home first.
On a Saturday morning in late May, Toledo gathered with classmates Garcia and Carlos Wilson Bello, a Colombian who had a career as a chemical engineer before he, too, heard the call.
The setting was the sacristy of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the equivalent of backstage at the city's towering white Catholic symbol.
"Good morning," a priest told Garcia. "Congratulations, padre to be."
In Toledo's right pocket is a cross he carries everywhere, the same kind carried by all the seminarians. In his left pocket is his mother's rosary. The handmade beads are his family's birthstones.
Like children peering around a curtain waiting for their father to home from work, every few minutes the men walk over and peek through a narrow slit of a window at friends, family and seminarians taking their places in the front.
A few weeks earlier, the three men sat in the back of an empty classroom and chose the Gospel reading for this, their ordination Mass.
The unanimous pick was Matthew 9:35-38. It concludes with Jesus telling his disciples: "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."
It was a fitting choice. Thirteen years into the existence of Redemptoris Mater Denver, this bright morning would usher in the seminary's 11th, 12th and 13th priests, all bound for parishes in Colorado.
Midway through the Mass, the archbishop rested his hands on the men's heads and said a few words of prayer. And with that, these men of Redemptoris Mater were priests.
One reason why Archbishop Apuron invited the Neocatechumenal Way into Guam is due to its excellent track record in saving marriages. Guam has a very high divorce rate, and many people here would rather shack up rather than marry. The laws in Guam also made it much easier to get a divorce. Although the Way has been criticized of its liturgies, it has been the most successful in getting its members to live out a Christian marriage. In the Way, families were also willing to give up everything to evangelize in foreign countries far from their homes. These are called "mission families" in the Way. According to the article:
In reality, what most distinguishes the Way from other ecclesial movements and from the faithful as a whole is the centrality of the family in it, theorized and lived in perfect obedience to the magisterium of the Church of all times but in particular of the most recent popes, including that encyclical “Humanae Vitae” which is ignored and disobeyed by almost all Catholics with the general complicity of the clergy, but certainly not by the Neocatechumenals, in view of their generous fecundity.
It is no surprise, therefore, that in 2009 the pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family should have awarded Kiko, the founder of the Way, with a doctorate “honoris causa” precisely for his efforts in support of Christian marriage.
|Pope Francis receives 250 mission families from the Neocatechumenal Way and sends them out to evangelize in foreign countries.|
Friday, August 11, 2017
It is ironic that Tim Rohr has been accusing SNAP and Joelle Casteix of undermining everything he has done. Tim criticized Joelle Casteix for casting doubt in the canonical trial by pointing to Father Wachs sexual harassment. Yet, he said nothing about David Lujan doing the same thing that Joelle Casteix had done. Such double standards! According to the Guam Daily Post:
The following article was written by Dr. Ric Eusebio in the opinion page of the Pacific Daily News (the bold is mine):
The recent media headlines reporting allegations of sexual impropriety involving Rev. Justin Wachs in the diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is recycled news from a news report from June. As reported, Wachs served as a notary for the Vatican tribunal investigating sex abuse charges against Archbishop Anthony Apuron.However, he is not one of the five judges tasked with examining evidence, evaluating and determining the validity of the evidence and finally rendering judgment. He has no say or influence in the case’s outcome.Nevertheless, all the media appear to deem this newsworthy enough to publish as the expected conclusion of the trial draws near. Yet it aligns with the schema of those who stand to gain from Apuron’s permanent ouster from the island.Why? By discrediting the Vatican tribunal — which has conducted the most thorough investigation into the claims against Apuron to date — those accusing the Church have more leeway to negotiate via mediation a growing number of unproven sex abuse claims. They have steered the public, via the media, to question his innocence and deemed him guilty before, during and now, near the conclusion of his trial, by discrediting the legal process.This delayed and deliberate smearing of Wachs is more of the same of what we’ve come to expect from those campaigning for the premature removal and defrocking of Apuron.Indeed, an article quoted Attorney David Lujan as wondering: “How can one trust anything this man writes, if he is lacking in virtue and character?" Already Lujan is hoping to cast doubt on the tribunal.One of the most difficult conundrums for the naysayers is: What if he is innocent? Then it is understandable to openly question the legal process to invalidate the result and lead one to think that he is guilty anyway.In this regard, it is alarming to hear the recent news of criminal conspiracy charges, violations of the Open Government Law and official misconduct by six members of the Guam Housing Board. At the center of the criminal charges is David Sablan, the president of Concerned Catholics of Guam, the group that has spearheaded the campaign against Archbishop Apuron and the archdiocese.It is remarkable that someone who has accused the church of financial and administrative misconduct is now under investigation for, among other things, steering $4.1 million in tax credits to a favored company behind closed doors.Concerned Catholics of Guam has demanded without any proven evidence of misconduct that Apuron be defrocked, without due process, hoping to deny him the right to a fair trial. What is the hurry? Are not the accused presumed innocent until proven guilty?Over the last year, we have watched in pain as acrimony and tension, primarily over money and power … have divided the Church that has nurtured our faith here in Guam. But frequently the truth is present in our midst, staring at us in the face. We simply have been blinded by those who stand to gain in discoloring or shading the truth.We need to strive more clearly to see the light of truth and open ourselves to receive the grace God gives us to accept it.R.B. Eusebio, M.D., FACS, is president of I Familian Mangatoliku Sihab.