The archdiocese has embraced financial transparency and accountability to help rebuild that trust, Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes and other officials said as the church deals with a deficit and at least $125 million in clergy sex abuse lawsuits.
Byrnes said there has been great skepticism, distrust, questioning and lack of confidence by many Guam Catholics toward the leadership of the archdiocese, the curia and the chancery.
“With earnest hearts, greater transparency and accountability, we pledge to restore that trust,” Byrnes wrote in a March 5 pastoral letter appealing for financial pledges to help the archdiocese fund its ministries and services.
The Archdiocesan Annual Appeal for more than 50 years has solicited donations during Lent to support chaplaincy, seminary, clergy support, evangelization and other chancery operating expenses.
“What is the main reason we need an Annual Appeal? In the most direct way I can share, the Appeal is needed to help fund the various ministries, operations and archdiocesan services of our chancery,” Byrnes wrote.
The archdiocese, between July 2015 and June 2016 posted a net deficit of $213,420, according to an interim financial report printed in the archdiocese’s weekly newspaper, Umatuna Si Yu’os.
The archdiocese reported $1.408 million in revenue, but more than $1.621 million in expenses during that period.
This year, money from the annual appeal will assist six ministries and services that fall directly under the archbishop’s office and the chancery, including ensuring a safe environment for children under the church’s care.
During a Feb. 24 clergy meeting, Byrnes said he informed pastors that each of the parishes is empowered to determine both the amount they will contribute to the Archdiocese Annual Appeal and how they will collect that money.
“Learning from the past and listening to input from our clergy and others in our church, we are doing things differently from how it was done in the past. One of these significant changes is that we are not setting goals for each parish regarding the amount of Appeal funds they should raise,” Byrnes wrote.
$132M net assetsThe church’s reconstituted financial arm is also assessing and reassessing all assets, currently estimated at $132 million.
“If we have to sell everything, that is all we can get,” Archdiocesan Finance Council President Richard Untalan said during the council’s first press conference on March 8, during which Byrnes also announced a $1 million aid fund for clergy sex abuse survivors.
Untalan said the initial $1 million in the fund came from the liquidation of Bank of Guam stocks years ago.
The archdiocese will add to the fund, which will be administered by an independent third party, as money becomes available, Untalan said.
He said parishioners will not be asked to put money into the aid fund, unless they want to donate.
The fund is meant to help survivors pay for counseling, support and other needed services, and is not established to settle the clergy sex abuse lawsuits against the archdiocese.
Twenty-five former altar boys, alleging clergy sexual abuse decades ago, have sued the archdiocese in federal court, demanding $5 million each, or $125 million. Three others filed lawsuits in local court for unspecified damages.
Many Guam Catholics in recent years have been critical of Archbishop Anthony Apuron's use of church resources, including his support of the Neocatechumenal Way, whose practices are at odds with traditional Catholics.
Apuron last June was temporarily replaced by the pope, pending a canonical trial into allegations that he abused altar boys in the 1970s.
Byrnes, as coadjutor archbishop, will replace Apuron if he resigns, retires or is removed.
Toni Sanford, spokesperson for the Archdiocesan Finance Council, said during a news briefing “there’s been a huge exodus” and the council hopes to win back people’s trust in parish communities by ensuring financial transparency.
Sanford said since October, the council has been meeting weekly and has done considerable research and homework to bring integrity and credibility to church financial management.
Untalan and other members of the reconstituted council were removed by Apuron, after the council members advised Apuron not to place a deed restriction on the Yona seminary property, the archdiocese’s largest asset.
Apuron, according to the council members, went behind their backs and allowed the Yona property’s indefinite use for a seminary controlled by the Neocatechumenal Way.
The archdiocese has 26 parishes and 14 Catholic schools including kinder school and daycare, two seminaries, and several auxiliary ministries including the Catholic Social Services and Kamalen Karidat.
The chancery annual revenues through June 30, 2016 came from:
* Rental income of $510,600, including the Take Care lease, Guam Reef Hotel, and R&D investment;
* Parish assessment of $402,100;
* Other income from donations and others, $117,000
* The Archdiocesan Annual Appeal, $101,300
* Investment income or dividends from stocks of Gannett, Tegna, Bank of Guam and other endowment fund earnings, $89,600
* Division of pastoral ministries, which includes the annual catechetical conference and grants funded by Catholic Extension, $85,047
* Umatuna Si Yu’os newspaper revenue from advertising and other sponsorships to the paper, $63,929
* Catholic Schools Week, which includes fundraising, fees and sponsorships, $38,424
The chancery expenses during the same period include:
*Archdiocese administration, inclusive of employee salary and benefits, $741,051
* General and administrative expenses including communication, utilities, some legal retainer fees, $264,559
* Division of pastoral ministries inclusive of stipends for the directors of the office, which was closed down in July 2016 but the ministry continues after it was merged with other offices, $110,930
* Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic School liability, associated with the high school’s closure which includes payment of delinquent loan interest and penalties for unpaid taxes, $99,448
* Redemptoris Mater Seminary, inclusive of formators’ allowance, stipend and subsidies, $92,450.
* Saint John Paul the Great Archdiocesan Seminary, $92,371
* Umatuna Si Yu’os newspaper, inclusive of printing, graphic and freelance costs, $70,008
* Catholic faith formation, $54,611
* Catholic schools offices, $51,326
* Chaplain allowance, inclusive of housing allowances provided to two chaplains assigned at Guam Memorial Hospital and one at the Department of Youth Affairs, $38,067
* Clergy support, or decent support made to a retired priest based on canonical retirement, $6,600