Archbishop Anthony Apuron
Guam reporters were summoned to the Chancery office of the diocese on San Ramon Hill for a briefing on developments in the ongoing canonical trial of Archbishop Anthony Apuron in Rome.
Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes
Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes confirmed reports that the discovery period of the trial had ended in the past couple of weeks. Within the next several weeks the three judges in the case will be convened to deliberate on what they heard. Archbishop Byrnes said that details about this and other matters concerning the trial in Rome are sketchy, in part due to the uniqueness of the case. Until the judges hand down a sentence, it won’t even be known what the exact point of the proceeding may be.
The three possible sentences handed down by the judges, at an unknown date, are guilty, not guilty or not proven. If it’s a guilty verdict, presumably, penalties would be handed down, but like many other things, how that would go is another unknown.
“Again, I cannot do any kind of reflection on what those penalties are or would be,” Archbishop Byrnes said, “partly because this is the first time that they’ve gone through this process for a Bishop, so I can’t really speculate on what they could possibly do.” He also said canonical lawyers, the experts on these matters, are also in the dark.
But regardless of the outcome of the trial, Archbishop Byrnes said he’s being asked what would happen if Archbishop returned to Guam.
“I’m convinced that this archdiocese would be unable to achieve peace, really, until it’s clear that Archbishop Apuron is no longer the Archbishop of record,” Archbishop Byrnes said. He said this isn’t based on the allegations or the trial, but on what he has observed in seven months on Guam.
“There was a very widespread disarray and ineffectiveness of many of the operations that you would expect to be going on in a regular archdiocese… Some of the policies that had been around for a long time, for instance, the sexual abuse policy were sorely lacking, again in its bite, the clarity of a solid process.”
“I think it would be a disaster if Archbishop Apuron were to return as the Bishop of record. That’s my opinion, it’s not based on anything I’ve heard from Rome.”
Archbishop Byrnes said the past needs to become the past and the rebuilding of the Guam church needs to proceed.