Returning from Ireland, Pope Francis brings up the question of Anthony Apuron inflight
Following his papal mission to Ireland, Pope Francis spoke to reporters inflight from Dublin to Rome. That visit was filled with many questions from the Irish about past abuses by the Catholic church, priests and higher level clerical functionaries. When Irish reporter Paddy Agnew brought up the matter of how the church will be handling the vast number of cases, the Pope segued to the pending matter of Anthony Apuron, who is appealing the decision in Rome that he was guilty of sexually abusing minors. Should Apuron lose the appeal, he'll be stripped of office and prohibited from residing on Guam.
The Catholic News Agency provided a transcript of the session with reporters:
Paddy Agnew, Sunday Independent: Holy Father, thanks and good evening. Yesterday, Marie Collins, an abuse victim that you know well, said that you are not favorable to a new tribunal for Vatican inquiries on the issue of abuses, new inquiries on the problem of sexual abuse, and in particular on a so-called tribunal of inquiry on bishops, bishop accountability. Why do you think this is not necessary?
Pope Francis: (speaking over the last part of the question) No, no, it is not like this. Marie Collins is a bit fixated on the idea that came up. I esteem Marie Collins so much. At times, we call her to give Vatican conferences. She is fixated on the idea, the idea of the “madre amorevole” (editor’s note: The motu proprio, “As a loving mother”), in which it is said that to judge bishops, that it would be good to have a special tribunal. Then, we saw this wasn’t practical and it also wasn’t convenient for the different cultures of the bishops that had to be judged.
Pope Francis and former Archbishop Apuron in Rome (Photo, La Stampa)
In this way, the tribunals, the “giurias” change. And that’s what we’ve done up until now. Rather many bishops have been judged. The latest is that of Guam, the Archbishop of Guam, who appealed. And, I decided - because it’s a very difficult case - to take the privilege that I have of taking on the appeal myself and not sending it to the council of appeal that does its work with all the priests. I took it upon myself. And made a commission of canonists that are helping me and they told me that when I get back, after a maximum of a month, a recommendation will be made so I can make a judgment. It is a complicated case, on one hand, but not difficult because the evidence is clear. I cannot pre-judge, I await the report and then I will judge. I say that the evidence is clear because there is this evidence which led the first tribunal to the condemnation.