Guam’s Former Archbishop Hiding in the United States

The Vatican announced recently that a canonical trial has commenced concerning Guam’s former Archbishop Apuron and the trial will be lengthy, perhaps spanning several years.

However, that contradicts what media outlets have discovered.  Under the guise of searching for a missing dog, reporters have located Archbishop living in a two-story house in Fairfield, California.  There is video footage circulating on the Internet and this new revelation makes it difficult to square with the Vatican’s assertion that there is indeed a canonical trial involving Archbishop Apuron.  How do I know this?  I was involved in a canonical trial in connection with my representation of a sexual abuse survivor a few years ago.

A canonical trial, like most civil or criminal trials, requires the presence or at least the participation of all parties involved in the case.

The Catholic Church has responded through Apuron’s lawyer concerning his whereabouts, sort of.  This afternoon, Attorney Jacque Terlaje provided a statement to KUAM: “As you are aware, I am legal counsel for Archbishop Anthony Apuron, OFM Cap. D.D. In response to your inquires(sic) regarding his whereabouts, the Archbishop is in a location where he is able to continue working on defending his innocence without distraction.”

What does that statement mean?  It seems to me that if Apuron were innocent of any wrongdoing in the Guam sexual abuse tragedy, he’d be in Rome defending himself.  He certainly wouldn’t be hiding in a previously undisclosed location in California.

For abuse survivors, Archbishop Apuron’s reticence has all the markings of what survivors have come to expect from the Catholic Church-cover-up, obfuscation, and a public relations campaign that is no better than a “don’t confuse me with the facts” campaign.  This only weakens the Church’s position in handling sex abuse cases.  It fans the flames of justice which inch closer and closer to the former Archbishop himself.

Photo Credit via Guam Archdiocese’s Website

Pope Replaces Guam Archbishop

Pope Francis has named a new co-adjutor bishop for the embattled Archdiocese of Guam as Archbishop Anthony Apuron faces a church trial over his role in the sexual abuse of minors on the Pacific island.

Bishop Michael Jude Byrnes, currently an auxiliary bishop in Detroit, is moving to the U.S. territory as a coadjutor bishop. Coadjutors have succession rights when bishops resign, retire or are removed.

Archbishop Anthony Apuron, 70, has been accused of molesting at least five altar boys in the 1960s and ’70s. He has denied the allegations, has not been criminally charged and has refused calls to step down.  However, he is facing a canonical trial in Rome for his role in the Guam sexual abuse scandal.

In announcing the appointment, the Vatican noted that Byrnes would serve as co-adjutor with “special faculties”.  The release didn’t specify what those faculties would include but Vatican experts believe that Byrnes will be given the authority to investigate the sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese and possibly become the permanent archbishop sooner rather than later.

Byrnes was ordained a priest in 1996 and a bishop in 2011.  Prior to his episcopal ordination, he served as Vice Rector of Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary.  During his tenure as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit, Byrnes suspended a Catholic priest for not reporting an incident of sexual abuse in 2012.  In announcing the suspension, Byrnes wrote a letter to parishioners which noted, “…the archdiocese knows enough to question why Fr. Cooney, having been informed of the alleged conduct, failed in his response to the victim in promptly reporting what he knew to law enforcement authorities and to provide a safe environment for children and young people on parish property.”

The Guam legislature has voted to remove the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases and the Archdiocese may be facing sexual abuse lawsuits as a result of the behavior of priests and the Archbishop.

Archbishop Byrnes

Byrnes is expected to arrive at the end of November. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

As Guam Considers Revising Statute of Limitations on Sex Abuse, More Survivors Come Forward

As Guam holds public holds public hearings to consider Bill 326 which would lift the statute of limitations on survivors who are coming forward to publicly reveal cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, more victims are courageously testifying in support of the bill.

One media outlet wrote, “Guam is on its way to becoming the first U.S. territory to allow victims of child sex abuse to sue their perpetrator at any time, without restriction, on retroactive cases.  As of Friday, there was no opposition to a bill that would remove time restrictions for suing child sex abusers. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled to resume Monday.” Read More