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Rev. Jeff San Nicolas speaks during a press conference at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica in Hagåtña on Tuesday, Sept. 20. The press conference was held to explain the archdiocese's call for the veto of legislation that would lift the statute of limitations on child sex abuse. Norman Taruc/Post

In an emotionally wrought address to media, lay organizations and members of the clergy, Rev. Jeff San Nicolas read from a statement in which he reiterated the archdiocese’s opposition to the passage of Bill 326-33.

"The Archdiocese of Agana is not seeking to protect child sexual abusers of any kind, it simply desires for the people of God to be well informed about the true effects of Bill 326-33," he said.

Bill 326-33 would remove the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits involving accusations of child sex abuse. The bill passed with an unanimous vote by the legislature and is now awaiting the governor's signature by Friday. If the governor does not either sign or veto the bill by then, it would lapse into law.

Speaker Judi Won Pat said in comments released to the Post that all bills vetoed by the governor would be placed on the session agenda scheduled for Oct. 17 and that in the event of an override vote, she would vote in favor of its passing.

Citing the inevitability of bankruptcy as the main reason for the governor to not sign the bill into law, San Nicolas stated the archdiocese would have to make sizable sacrifices in order to sustain the work of their charitable programs.

"People of God, senators and governor: please consider carefully all the motivations behind this bill," he concluded. "The church desires for you to do what is right for the victims of abuse, but please safeguard the innocent people and services this bill could harm."

San Nicolas refused to take questions following his statement.

Catholic lay organizations present at the press conference commented on San Nicolas' statement.

"I'm glad he said what he said about the negative influence of the NCW," said Andrew Camacho, vice-president of the group Concerned Catholics of Guam.

Responding to the claims that bankruptcy would irreparably harm the church, Camacho said the faithful would rebuild the church.

"The main focus of CCOG is taking care of the victims," he said.

Camacho continued to say that if the church did indeed lose everything as a result of the onslaught of litigation from child sex abuse victims, parishioners would step in to rebuild it.

"Let it happen," he said. "We will rebuild a pure church, but we do not want to support a corrupt church – we refuse to do that."

Calling the shots

In addition, San Nicolas took steps in addressing calls for transparency regarding the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Yona.

"Now we know that Cardinal Filoni is calling the shots," former senator Bob Klitzkie said in an interview after the press conference.

Klitzkie's response was in reference to some of the comments that San Nicolas read prefacing talks concerning Bill 326.

San Nicolas shared documentation with the media regarding communications between himself and the acting rector of RMS, Msgr. David Quitugua.

According to San Nicolas, the lay organization known as the Laity Forward Movement contacted Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai and requested permission for a small group to enter the RMS property for a guided tour and to inspect certain documents associated with the property's legal ownership.

"Knowing the history between the LFM and the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, I, as the delegate to the Apostolic Administrator, sought to personally mediate the visit so that it may be a breakthrough for dialogue and mutual understanding," San Nicolas said.

His efforts were eventually quashed, he stated, as later correspondence between himself and Msgr. Quitugua proved ineffectual.

Writing to Rev. San Nicolas, Quitugua said, "This is to inform you that His Eminence, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, has been made aware of the preannounced 'visit' of the LFM to the seminary. Cardinal Filoni's instruction is that no such 'visit' can be made to the seminary ... without expressed and written permission granted by the proper ecclesiastical authority."

San Nicolas stated that after contemplation, he had initially decided that he, as the delegate to the apostolic administrator, was in fact the "proper ecclesiastical authority" and decided to inform the seminary of his intent to visit RMS with several laity.

In response, documents show Quitugua responding with the following: "Sincerely, it is my hope that this visit is not an attempt to circumvent Cardinal Filoni's authority over this matter involving the LFM."

In the end, the LFM was unable to gain access to the seminary and were turned away from a locked gate, said Lou Kliztkie of LFM.

"The intent of Msgr. David’s letter was now clear to me. Neither I nor Archbishop Hon is the church authority over decision making regarding the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, even over simple matters such as who can visit," San Nicolas read. "Cardinal Filoni is in charge."

Following the press conference, San Nicolas released the seminary visitation report in opposition to orders from his superiors.

Neocatechumenal Way

"If the Neocatechumanal Way is to minister to our faithful let it happen organically, not through force and manipulation," San Nicolas said during the address.

San Nicolas expanded on the role NCW has played in recent divisions among Guam's Catholic faithful.

The NCW is a subset of the Catholic faith that many so-called traditional Catholics have long since voiced concerns about. Namely that it disseminates ideologies not in line with Catholicism.

"I am hopeful that the strings disproportionately empowering the national and international leadership of the Neocatecumenal Way to interfere with our local church affairs will be cut," San Nicolas said.

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