Concerned Guam Catholics circulate petition

HAGÅTÑA — The recently organized Concerned Catholics of Guam group has ​decided to circulate a petition to collect names and signatures of people who support the organization’s mission and objectives. The group aims to collect 2,000 signatures by Jan. 3, 2015, one day before three high level Church leaders are expected to visit Guam.

The petition is the latest development amid several connected controversies surrounding the local archdiocese.

The Concerned Catholics of Guam or CCOG posted a blank printable petition sheet and their objectives online. They aim to target local parishioners ages 16 years old and older for support.

Anthony ApuronAnthony Apuron

In a short announcement posted on its website, the organization said it has “stepped forward to offer assistance in resolving the divisive misunderstandings that currently plague our Catholic parish communities” and invited the community to endorse their cause.

The group listed 15 objectives it wishes to tackle. The issues are related to the clergy, laity, parish affairs and the archdiocesan affairs. Seven of the fifteen objectives focus on more involvement, strengthening Catholic traditions and amending the Agana Archdiocese’s current policies.

The CCOG is calling for financial transparency, a change in the sex abuse policy, representation for the church’s real property and for an evaluation of the archdiocese’s management, among other objectives.

The new group organized independently from the Agana Archdiocese but consists of active parishioners from around the island. On Dec. 9, President Greg Perez, Vice President Dave Sablan, Secretary Vangie Lujan and members Gil Shinohara and Tommy Tanaka announced their formal organization and intent to investigate the church. Ultimately, the group said, it wants to resolve the divide among Guam Catholics.

Another member, Deacon Steve Martinez, faces a censure from Archbishop Anthony Apuron for his participation in the group. Martinez is listed as treasurer of the organization and has said he would prefer not to cut ties with the group. He is also a deacon the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.

Perez and Martinez told the Variety that the group reached out to the archbishop for a possible meeting after formally organizing but the archbishop has yet to return the gesture. Martinez said two weeks ago, they emailed a letter to Archbishop Anthony Apuron requesting a meeting but only received a reply from spokesman Rev. Adrian Cristobal acknowledging receipt of the email.

Apuron has kept silent, choosing not to release a public statement about the group since their formal organization. Apuron’s spokesman said the archbishop did not place a canonical censure on Martinez and opted not to comment further on the matter. However, Martinez said he is facing censure and that Apuron has charged him with violating Canon law. Martinez said under the religious vow of obedience he took at the start of his deaconship, he is not able to disclose what Canon laws Apuron said he violated.

Martinez said since he cannot share the charges even with a Canon lawyer, he said he feels stripped of his ability for adequate representation.