“The chancery property that once hosted a pope and has served as the command center of the Archdiocese of Agana is being put up for sale “in the midst of challenging financial times and settlement of clergy sexual abuse cases,” Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes announced Wednesday.
In September, 26 workers and offices located at the chancery will move to the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica grounds in Hagatna, Byrnes said.
The announcement was made just five days after a Vatican tribunal stated that former Archbishop Anthony Apuron was found “guilty of certain of the accusations” involving sexual abuse of minors.
The chancery was on a list compiled last year of 41 non-essential properties that could be sold to help the archdiocese raise money to settle sex abuse lawsuits. The archdiocese is a defendant in 160 sexual abuse lawsuits filed since the beginning of last year.
“Now that the mediation process related to the sexual abuse lawsuits has been set for September, the archdiocese is in the process of evaluating these claims on an individual basis,” Byrnes said Wednesday. “This necessitates the selling of certain properties owned by the archdiocese.”
The property on San Ramon Hill sits on a 10,000 square-meter lot, which includes undeveloped hillside land near the Guam Judicial Center. It was donated to the church by the estate of Henry Flores Nelson in 1950.
When Pope John Paul II visited Guam in February 1981, he stayed at the chancery, which was the residence of then-Bishop Felixberto C. Flores. That was the only time a pope has ever visited the island.
“We’re turning another page in the book, another chapter. I think there’s something symbolic that’s happening here,” Byrnes said.
Offices of the archbishop, the vicar general, the chancellor, and the vicar for church patrimony are all located at the chancery. Other offices and functions at the chancery include Catholic education, archives and records, marriage tribunal, finance, human resources, safe environment, communication and the Umatuna Si Yu’os newspaper.
The chancery, the former Accion Hotel and the former Thomas Aquinas High School in Ordot were the most valuable properties on the archdiocese’s list of non-essential properties that could be sold. “