Once-demoted monsignor assigned to council of advisors

ADVISOR: Monsignor James Benavente, front, is shown with Father Jeff San Nicolas and Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai during a press conference in November last year. Post file photo

Monsignor James Benavente, previously stripped of his role as head of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica, has moved back to the sphere of influence in Guam's Catholic Church leadership.

Benavente has been named member of the Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors, of the Archdiocese of Agana.

Each diocese has a presbyteral council, comprising a group of priests, which functions as the senate of the bishop and helps the bishop in the governance of the diocese, based on church laws, according to the Vatican website.

Archbishop Michael Byrnes made the announcement Sunday, and Benavente's appointment went into effect the same day.

Controversial demotion

Before the Vatican sent Byrnes to take over the leadership of the Archdiocese of Agana, several months ago, the archdiocese under now-suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron demoted Benavente from being head of the cathedral to being the priest at the St. Anthony's Church in Tamuning.

Hundreds rallied in support of Benavente when he was demoted more than two years ago, after Apuron accused him of financial mismanagement. The new leadership later voided the allegations.

Apuron last year was removed from his post as the island's top Catholic Church official. He awaits the outcome of a trial in the Vatican on allegations of sexual abuse of minors decades ago, when he was a Guam priest.

The presentation of evidence in the trial has ended, and a panel of judges is expected to issue a decision on Apuron's fate.