In a statement released to the media on Aug. 25, Archbishop Anthony Apuron responded to claims that he opposed the Pope.
"I wish to declare that this is absolutely false and it is causing real, grave and immediate damage to the Church in Guam and to my good name," Apuron said in the release.
Apuron said he had always followed the Pope and has every intention of doing so in the future.
The disobedience in question refers to comments made by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana, in a statement concerning a presentation made to the Presbyteral Council regarding the legal status of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary (RMS) property in Yona.
Hon said, "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."
In direct conflict with this statement, Apuron stated that Pope Francis had never issued any such instruction.
Apuron also addressed a number of the ongoing disputes concerning the RMS property by refuting that anyone other than the Archbishop controls its use and cited a number of sources, legal and ecclesiastic, that conclude that the Archdiocese is the legal owner.
"The property on which the Seminary/Institute resides is an ecclesiastical good of this Archdiocese and it is not controlled by any ‘community,’” the statement reads. “A restriction on use is obviously not an alienation, and only I, Archbishop of Agana, or my successor, as Ordinary and Sole Member, have authority to lift this restriction."
Apuron also said that the deed restriction was put in place to protect the "ecclesial goods" of the Archdiocese.
Contrary to reports and a statement from CCOG and other lay groups, Apuron's statement claimed that the restriction was made following canonical procedures and was under consultation of both the Archdiocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors.
In response to Archbishop Hon's request that the deed restriction be lifted, Apuron stated that he would not be complying.
"I am convinced in conscience that I cannot lift the restriction on this property," he said.
Apuron defended this decision by explaining that his actions were all that had prevented the sale of the RMS property – valued up to $75 million – to parties with less than ethical intentions. He alluded to similar situations in Sapain where "big investors" had dumped billions in projects that brought "money to few and moral misery and degradation to many."
Apuron reiterated his continued position as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana by stating that Hon's appointment had been done “sede plena” which means without removing the current Ordinary, while Apuron is involved in the current libel and slander litigation being filed against him.
Apuron reported that the Pope has granted his request to a canonical trial.