During the past two months I have been on Guam carrying out the Holy Father’s call to help bring healing and unity to an openly fractured Church, I have met with numerous groups and individuals.
In these dialogues, I have followed Pope Francis’ own approach to interacting and exchanging ideas with all people. It is really, an extension of the Gospel, and what Jesus Christ teaches us even today: to be respectful and loving toward each person we encounter, mindful of their dignity as children of God and open to the different ways each contributes to the good of the Church and to humanity in general.
The discussions have included meeting immediately with all of our priests and deacons, individually and by groups to build collaboration. It has involved sitting down with persons who have quite strong opinions and emotions to share about individuals and groups in our Archdiocese. Not the least of this continual period of learning, teaching and sharing, has been the most welcome visits to the parishes of this Archdiocese. In the celebration of the Mass, festal tributes to village patron saints and the greeting of faithful, young and old, I have witnessed the deep love for God and our Church by the people. It is clear that all desire the same thing; for the Church on Guam to be whole again.
With this in mind, today I would share some information regarding the property (hereafter “property”) used by Redemptoris Mater Seminary (RMS) and Blessed Diego Theological Institute (BDTI) in Yona. The “property” was no doubt acquired by the Archdiocese, and yet its use has been conceded in perpetuity to RMS and BDTI. Such act of concession was not done in a usual way by an internal Ecclesiastical agreement, but by the Declaration of Deed Restriction filed in the local Government of Guam in November 2011. Such a Deed has been a source of grave dispute and division in our Church. On Thursday, August 11, the Archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council and I met with some members of the Church on Guam. We listened to an extensive presentation made by them, who illustrate with documentation how the Deed Restriction was done without due process in conformity with the Church law and praxis and how the text of the Deed Restriction created great ambiguities.
There are people in our Church who were upset by statements I made in a news interview regarding the “property”. To those who may feel hurt or vexed by these statements, I offer my sincere apologies. It is never my intention nor the Church’s to purposely cause ill will in our brothers and sisters. These statements, however, should be understood as a clear intent of the current archdiocesan administration to hold firmly that the title of the “property” and the legal right over it should uniquely belong to the Archdiocese of Agaña and to rescind and annul the above-mentioned Deed Restriction, which has caused so many disputes and ambiguities over such title and right.
In truth, more than a year ago, the Holy See recognized the problems such a Deed Restriction created. Ever since then, more than once the Holy See has instructed Archbishop Anthony Apuron to rescind and annul it. Clearly, this instruction has not been carried out accordingly.
Thus, I hereby sincerely ask the collaboration of all the faithful to act with obedience to the directive of the Holy See. And, in particular, I request that community which now enjoys in perpetuity the use of the “property” to spontaneously and effectively renounce, without any litigation, such a benefit obtained from the Archdiocese of Agaña. Such a courageous act of renouncing will certainly earn respect and recognition from the Holy See, as well as many faithful, the Presbyteral Council, and myself.
The Church will update the faithful as it progresses in this area.
God bless you all.
+ Savio Hon Tai Fai, SDB
Archdiocese of Agana
Thursday, August 18, 2016