Catholic Church in Guam still divided

Over the past few months, many of the Guam’s Catholics have been divided by a line in which one side supports the Neocatechumenal Way (NCW) movement and those who want to keep the old traditions of the local Catholic church.

On Wednesday a prayer vigil took place in Hagåtña.

Gregory D. Perez, president of the Concerned Catholics of Guam, said the vigil was held to unite the island’s Catholic community, which he feels is divided.

The gathering took place on the front steps of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.

About 50 people attended the prayer rally.

Everyone, including Archbishop Anthony Apuron and people from other faiths, had been invited.

One of the more recent controversies in the local Catholic church involves the recent arrest of a priest, Father Luis Camacho, who was accused of “custodial interference” over a 17-year-old girl.

Camacho has resigned from being pastor of the Malesso and San Dionisio parishes.

The Guam Police Department said Camacho was booked and charged with custodial interference for being with a female minor who was not in school at the time they were found parked at the beach.

Camacho was released from police custody the same day.

The archdiocese has issued a statement regarding Camacho’s arrest:
“The Archdiocese of Agana was made aware that Father Luis was booked and released yesterday, March 17, 2015. The alleged offense is custodial interference, according to information provided by the Guam Police Department. The archdiocese has initiated a canonical investigation and is cooperating fully with civil authorities. In the meantime, Father Luis’ faculties have been restricted.”

The statement was issued by Vice Chancellor Rev. Jose Alberto Rodriguez.

The Sexual Abuse Response Coordinator (SARC) Deacon Larry Claros said he would not be involved in this case.

On Wednesday, Carlina Charfauros, public information officer for the Attorney General’s Office, said other than the initial police report, no other reports were forwarded to their office.

However KUAM News had reported that one day after his arrest a report was filed by Deacon Stephen Martinez with Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Child Protective Services alleging that Fr. Luis had “sexual contact” with the minor.

In response to the report, Claros told KUAM News that, “a canonical investigation is underway and I have done my part as the SARC in coordinating the investigation. It now lies with the Attorney General’s office.”

Martinez has expressed concern about Camacho’ connection to the NCW.

He claims Camacho used his position of authority in the NCW community to take advantage of girl.

“This is a grave abuse of trust and a tendency which a proper psychological examination may have disclosed.”

“Unfortunately this is not the only incident which raises alarm bells about problems within the RMS formation and screening process.”

“I certainly hope the victim’s participation in the NCW, and that of her parents, was not exploited to convince them not to press charges against Fr. Luis.”

Martinez also alleged other disturbing actions by members of the clergy.




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News category: Asia Pacific.

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