The committee for the unsecured creditors, parties in litigation against the Archdiocese of Agana for crimes committed by members of the clergy, is misinformed about village churches and some Catholic cemeteries, and their beginnings and relationship with the archdiocese. Some think that village churches are owned, and/or are financially dependent, on the archdiocese. Many parishioners would strongly disagree:
• a. Village churches were built with the hard labor, contributions and efforts of parishioners. Very little, if any, funds were received from the chancery/archdiocese. In fact, the primary source of funding for the archdiocese is the transfer of a hefty percentage of the weekly Sunday collections from each parish to the chancery.
• b. The land parcels on which these churches are situated were not originally owned by the archdiocese, but rather donated by a generous parishioner(s);
• c. Except for perhaps the recently completed Santa Bernadita Chapel in Agafa Gumas, and the St. Pope John Paul Chapel in Astumbo, Guam's churches existed long before the Archdiocese of Agana was established or an archbishop designated;
• d. Village pastors are assigned to the parishes, receive financial support – stipends or wages – from the archdiocese, and are, in so many ways, also supported and assisted through the generosity, kindness and openhandedness of the parishioners.
At the end of the day, the archdiocese could cease to exist; archbishops could be assigned to other areas around the world (some perhaps even exiled for misdeeds); and individual priests may transfer from parish to parish, or even elsewhere off the island, at the pleasure and convenience of the Vatican. But parishes, congregations and houses of worship will continue to exist, despite any provision of law, pronouncement of agents of and government tribunals, or three-ring circus pronouncements of legal beagles striving to befuddle those victimized by wayward priests and innocent parishioners oblivious to the turmoil created by legal beagles and overzealous and self-proclaimed evangelists more interested in hearing themselves on the boob tube than in preserving the spirit and teachings of Christ.
I feel very bad for those who may have been abused – and I, and so many others, Catholic and non-Catholics alike, will sincerely pray – that those victimized find lasting peace, a renewal of their spirit of faith and eternal hope.
Joaquin P. Perez is a resident of Santa Rita.