Guam Catholics will likely pay closer attention than usual to a meeting of church leadership that began Thursday. Archbishop of the Diocese of Agaña Michael J. Byrnes has asked “all Catholics on Guam for their prayers as leaders of our Church meet with Pope Francis this week during a worldwide summit in Rome.”
That’s because what the church and its leaders have done or will do in the case of former Archbishop Anthony Apuron has yet to be revealed. The results and final disposition of his canonical trial remain a mystery to the faithful on Guam and even to their new leadership.
Said Archbishop Byrnes: “Our Archdiocese of Agaña belongs to the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (Latin: Conferentia Episcopalis Pacifici) (CEPAC). Although I won’t be present at the summit, I have reminded the president of CEPAC of the unsettled case of my predecessor, Archbishop Anthony Apuron, which still distresses both the faithful of Guam and especially those who have suffered at his hands. It is our hope that an example like this might emphasize the necessity of transparency and accountability in the way the Church handles clergy abuse cases.”
The Archbishop said, “[The gathering] will be extremely important because of its special focus on the scourge of clergy sexual abuse which has darkened our Church in many places.
It is during this summit that the Church will examine procedures and practices on the protection of minors entrusted to its care and grave failures related to reporting of sexual abuse by clergy.
“As ever, I also ask everyone to continue to pray unceasingly for the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse on Guam and all parts of the world. We pray for all perpetrators, as well.
“Finally, as important as the summit is, it must be understood that the responsibility to protect our children rests not only on leaders of the Church, but on every individual of our faith community. True change in our Church on Guam and worldwide will come only when we all embrace that obligation with the utmost commitment,” Archbishop Byrnes concluded.