Editor’s note – This is the text of the announcement made by Father Jeff San Nicolas, Delegate General of Coadjutor Archbishop at a Nov. 15, 2016 news conference.
Today, I will provide an update to the faithful and people of Guam concerning the Yona property used by the Redemptoris Mater Seminary (RMS). Allow me to give some background. The Yona property was acquired by the Archdiocese of Agaña, but in 2011 the use, and control of the property, was ostensibly conceded in perpetuity to the RMS, through the Declaration of Deed Restriction recorded in the local Department of Land Management. Unfortunately, such a concession has become a source of grave dispute and division within our Church.
I am pleased to announce that the Archdiocese of Agana, through Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes and concurred by Archbishop Savio Hon, with advice and support of both the Archdiocesan Finance Council and Presbyteral Council, has acted to transfer complete and unrestricted control and possession of the Yona property back to the Archdiocese of Agaña.
As you know, Archbishop Apuron was relieved of his pastoral governance on June 6, 2016 and is no longer in a position to civilly and ecclesiastically exercise the authority of the Archbishop of Agaña. Then immediately, by the special mandate of Pope Francis, Archbishop Hon was then appointed Apostolic Administrator to replace Archbishop Apuron in exercising the full authority of the Archbishop of Agaña, civilly and ecclesiastically without exception, until further decision of the Pope. Then, on October 31, 2016, the Holy Father gave a more permanent solution and appointed Most Rev. Michael Jude Byrnes as Coadjutor Archbishop of Agaña with Special Faculties to replace Archbishop Apuron in exercising the same authority of the Archbishop of Agaña, civilly and ecclesiastically without exception, while having the right of succession. Archbishop Hon concluded his mission as Apostolic Administrator and has been asked by the Holy Father to represent the Holy See for the ordinary administration of the Archdiocese of Agaña so as to assure a smooth transition.
With the signed concurrence of Archbishop Hon, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in his capacity as authoritative representative of the Holy See, Archbishop Byrnes, upon the instructions of the Holy See, has signed all legal documents and executed all due procedures. These documents have been filed and recorded with the appropriate Government of Guam agencies, to effectuate the reversion of the Yona property back to the full control and governance of the Archdiocese of Agaña.
In summary, the legal filings abolished the RMS Board of Guarantors, and replaced the current Board of Directors with Archbishop Byrnes as the Sole Director, as well as designated him as the Chairman, President and Secretary of the RMS corporation. Archbishop Byrnes also signed documents cancelling, rescinding and annulling the 2011 Declaration of Deed Restriction. He also executed a Grant Deed transferring the property back to the Archdiocese of Agaña, to the extent that the RMS had any interest, all in accordance with the instructions of the Holy See under the authority of the Pope.
In this way, while expressing thanks to the two above-mentioned Boards for their care and work for the RMS, Archbishop Byrnes endeavors to regain greater freedom and flexibility to restore unity of the Church by undoing the above-mentioned “Deed” which was the source of division and conflict in the Archdiocese.
As Catholics, we must subscribe to the doctrine of Papal Primacy, which states:
The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered. Catechism of the Catholic Church #882.
In accordance with these teachings, we as Catholics must abide by and be obedient to the wishes and directives of our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
For the unity of the Church, as Catholics let us follow the guidance of the legitimate authority of the Church, namely Archbishop Hon, authoritative representative of the Holy See, and in particular Archbishop Byrnes appointed by the Holy Father to exercise the authority of the Archbishop of Agaña.
Under the Motherly care of Our Lady of Kamalen, let us be one in Christ and move forward in the unifying journey of healing and reconciliation.
God bless you all.
Fr. Jeff C. San Nicolas
Delegate General of Coadjutor Archbishop