“The past has to become the past so that we are able to move forward in peace and continue the real building of the church” and doing what Catholics depend on the church to do, “even on the nitty gritty, administrative, financial, pastoral infrastructure of the island,” he said.A few times, I have said that one cannot move forward without addressing the issues of the past. What started the controversy needed to be resolved. This statement made by Archbishop Byrnes was made on the same day that the year of reparation started. In that same press conference to the media in which he made this statement, he also said that Archbishop Apuron's return would be a disaster.
A year of reparation should start with compassion and forgiveness. There is no compassion when you judge a brother bishop behind his back to the public media.
So, in terms of healing and unity, what has been accomplished so far?
1. Archbishop Byrnes instructed the NCW to celebrate inside the Church building and follow the rubrics of the Mass. So, the NCW is doing that. And what is the jungle doing? They continue to tell their members NOT to contribute any money to the church. Is Archbishop Byrnes addressing that issue with them? Did he tell the jungle, "Come on guys. It's time to let go of the past and build up the Church. Contribute in helping your church."?
2. Archbishop Byrnes suspended the NCW from recruiting for a year while they review the catechetical directory of the Way, which was already approved by the Holy See. So, the NCW is currently not recruiting. And what is the jungle doing? They sent threatening emails to Father Danilo “Danny” Ferrandiz who was first appointed to be the delegate for the Way. The threatening emails caused Father Dan to resign. Did Archbishop Byrnes do anything to the jungle to help them move forward and put the past behind them? Actually, he appointed Deacon Steve Martinez to the position, but in no way did it help them move forward and forget the past. Instead, they jumped with joy. While many in the NCW disapprove of the appointment of Deacon Steve, they did not take up picket signs to protest in front of the cathedral. They moved forward.
3. Archbishop Byrnes gave 4 priests who walk in the Way positions in the Presbyterial Council and Council of Consulters. CCOG demanded the removal of Monsignor David and the other priests walking in the Way. Did the Archbishop say, "Come on guys. Let's move forward. It's time to let go of the past."? No. Instead, he asked Monsignor David to resign "in light of the current climate." Apparently, he was concerned about how CCOG felt. Did he feel any compassion for Monsignor David? Did he stood by and support his priest in this attack by CCOG? What is a bishop supposed to do when his priests are unjustly being attacked by CCOG simply because they walk in the Way? Did it ever occur to him to defend his own priests against an injustice rather than give in to the demands of a mob?
Unlike the jungle, I have never advocated for disobedience to the Bishop . The only time a priest can rightly disobey a bishop is when the bishop is commanding the priest to do an immoral act (steal, murder, etc.). I have not yet heard the side of those 4 priests. If they are indeed guilty of insubordination, then Archbishop Byrnes is within his right to remove them. Even David Sablan recognize this TODAY. How unfortunate that David Sablan did not recognize that Archbishop Apuron also had this same right when he removed Father Paul for disobedience. Such double standard. Perhaps, God allowed this to happen to show Sablan and the jungle their hypocrisy. De Ja Vu.......we are back to where we started.