Sunday, August 31, 2014

Archbishop Anthony Apuron: Doing the Will of God in Dismissing Monsignor James Benavente for Poor Financial Management

Archbishop Anthony Apuron on Thursday, during a Mass at Father Duenas Memorial School, spoke publicly about his decision to fire Monsignor James Benavente, saying he didn't fire Benavente "to be mean." Benavente was rector at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica for nearly 20 years and director of Catholic Cemeteries until Apuron fired him last month, alleging poor financial management. Apuron said, in his 28 years as the archbishop, he "only sought to do the will of God and to follow whatever commands I receive from Rome." "And I'm trying to be obedient. And I really do this out of a good conscience; I don't do it to be vindictive. I don't do it really to be mean." The archbishop acknowledged that he's been criticized by some in the local Catholic community, including in letters to the Vatican and on blogs. "There's one parishioner in one parish who asked the pastor, 'Can we recall him?' as if he voted me in. It is the pope who decided to elect me, ... and it will remain that way until he decides in Rome," Apuron said. "And I know that he has been receiving a lot of complaints, you know, especially through the Internet and through the blogs and whatnot." Some who attended the Mass at Father Duenas Memorial School recorded it and posted it on the Jungle Watch blog. The archbishop had issued written statements that the firing of Benavente was related to poor financial management and record-keeping at the Cathedral-Basilica and Catholic Cemeteries. But a group of local financial experts who are familiar with Cathedral-Basilica and cemetery finances said the problems the archbishop cited existed before Benavente was in charge. The accusation of poor fiscal management by Benavente "was not supported by the facts," Joseph Rivera, a former budget director for the government of Guam, said in a press conference on Aug. 6. Rivera was joined at the press conference outside the Cathedral-Basilica by Department of Revenue and Taxation Commissioner Art Ilagan and Rick Duenas, a certified public accountant. Gerald Taitano, president of the Cathedral-Basilica Parish Council, also wrote to Apuron that the written public statements the archbishop made about Benavente's management were "disconcerting." Here are the Critics, what do they have to say? Written by
Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News

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