Although he still officially holds the title of Archbishop of the Diocese of Agana, Anthony Apuron is unlikely to ever to set foot in the Chancery office again, regardless of the outcome of his current canonical trial in Rome for offenses that remain to be publicly stated by the Vatican.
But Apuron's ghost appears to be haunting the San Ramon Hill office, as diocese financial officials work to straighten out years of neglect.
Said Richard Untalan, who heads the finance committee, “For the first five months [since October], up to March or April, all we’ve been doing is putting out fires. Finding things that had just laid dormant or becoming a problem over the years... Previous governance of this archdiocese was simply upside down.”
Since Apuron departed, the diocese has hired a full time finance officer, a CPA and financial matters between island parishes and Catholic schools have been under extensive review. The effort, the church officials said, is intended to put the church on a financial footing to pay for its normal operations.
Part of the plan is increased assessments on island parishes and a $12 monthly per student assessment on Catholic schools. Another assessment on Catholic schools is projected to amount to $110,600 and is budgeted for the office of the Catholic Schools superintendent.
But according to Untalan, on a day when yet another case accusing various priests and Catholic school teachers of sexual abuse was filed, potential costs of such litigation are not a part of this budgetary effort.
Committee member Rick Duenas joined Untalan in emphasizing that point, saying, “We do have a separate plan, we do have a strategy that we have been formulating" to meet potential future court-imposed financial requirements.
Duenas said he expected this strategy would be announced within a few days.
The church officials have continued to emphasize a new commitment to openness and transparency, Archbishop Byrnes saying, "What was done in the past is no longer acceptable. The church deserves an open and transparent profile. And it deserves a chancery and archdiocese that works at he highest level of effectiveness."
And Untalan seconded that statement: "Unfortunately, the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing in the past… There was no accountability and no transparency from the top to the bottom and up to the top again. We were not one body of Christ.”
Archbishop Michael Byrnes