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New Guam archbishop gears up for a challenging job ahead

Updated: Jul 10


Ryan Jimenez

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

 

 Bishop Ryan Jimenez, who has been appointed by the Vatican to take the helm of the Archdiocese of Agana, is bracing for big challenges ahead as he inherits the remaining tasks to sweep the mess left by the sex abuse scandal involving members of the Guam clergy.

 

“We're in the stage of implementing what needs to be implemented— that much I know. So it's a continuing work,” Jimenez said during his first press conference as archbishop-elect.

 

The new church leader, whose appointment was announced July 6, prepares to assume the post as the archdiocese enters the final stages of completing the $34 million settlement of the civil suit filed by 280 plaintiffs, most of whom are former altar servers, who alleged they were sexually abused by priests and other members of the clergy when they were minors dating back to the 1950s.

 

The settlement entailed the sale of the archdiocese’s prime properties to cover the cost of indemnification.

 

At this point, Jimenez said he is in the learning phase.


“I would ask as a lifeline here,” he quipped when asked how much he knew about the case. “I will take my time to study, to pray over, so that the Holy Spirit will guide me in understanding, if there is any decision I have to make that I can make justly.”

 


Jimenez, currently the bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa on Saipan, will succeed Archbishop Michael Byrnes who resigned last year due to health reasons. The Installation Mass will be held on Aug. 15 at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna.

 

Jimenez vowed to examine the current situation of the Guam church, which in recent years has also been stricken with the polarizing controversy over the Neocatechumenal Way movement.


"I would be doing injustice to the church if I would even comment or say 'do this right away,'" he said.  "I need to study, learn, engage in a dialogue with people, get to know the team, the staff and all of that. Then the pressing issues would come in easily, I think."


He didn't pose any objection to the Neocatechumenal Way.


"Like other groups in the Church, like say for example Marriage Encounter, Legion of Mary, each one of these groups-- for lack of a better word-- offers gifts," Jimenz said.


"That's the beauty of the church. There is no one single expression. But I'm also mindful that there have been issues. But right now I'm here, I'm new," he added.

  While acknowledging the separation of church and state, Jimenez said religious leaders are duty-bound to participate in public discourse.

 

"The church is a part of a bigger community. We cannot deny issues that exist such as homelessness, problems about immigration, drugs. These are real issues that affect our people," he said.


Confronting social issues, Jimenez said, requires "listening, learning, praying, and trusting in the slow work of God" and "engaging in a dialogue."


"And the dialogue is not just imposing what this (group) wants and what the other wants, but what is best for our people," he added.


Jimenez also serves as a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. Born and raised in the Philippines, Jimenez came as a migrant worker to the Northern Mariana Islands in 1995 and taught at Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja, a Catholic school on Rota. 


 Jimenez began his studies and formation for the priesthood at St. Joseph Seminary College (high school department) in the Diocese of Dumaguete, Philippines. He then transferred to the college program of the Jesuit-run San Jose Seminary in Quezon City, earning an undergraduate degree from the Ateneo de Manila University. 




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