Mixed reaction to Guam’s new Archbishop


Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes will arrive from Detroit on Nov. 28 and be welcomed by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai and other clergy, the Archdiocese of Agãna has told The Pacific Daily News.

Some consider him to be an “outsider”. Guam will be Byrnes’ first long-term assignment out of Detroit, Michigan.

“I wonder about the prudence of Rome when I heard about this. It goes to show that the people that are advising Pope Francis just have absolutely no idea about Guam,” said Attorney David Lujan.

Lujan is representing alleged victims of clergy sex abuse including those filing lawsuits against the church and Archbishop Anthony Apuron.

“I think it’s offensive that Rome selects someone from Detroit of all places, and a white person at that, to send that person to Guam, really, to sort of shepherd us when we got numerous brown priests that were born here, that grew up here, that know the people of Guam and are part of the people of Guam, whether they’re Chamorros or Filipinos…”

“We have more than enough qualified leadership in the local clergy who Rome should have contemplated. So that’s my reaction to this coadjutor. I can’t wait to see him served,” Lujan said.

Hon Tai Fai said newly Byrnes should never be considered an “outsider”

“Archbishop Byrnes may not be given, in one instance, ‘infused’ knowledge of every detail of our island but he is generally informed about the current situation of the local Church and is ready, as expressed humbly by himself, to learn more from the people of God on Guam, whether they be clergy, religious, or lay,” Hon said in a Nov. 3 congratulatory message to Byrnes.

While there was initial apprehension among some community members about Byrnes’ selection, there is also expressed relief from some lay groups such as the Concerned Catholics of Guam, which said the appointment of a coadjutor archbishop means Apuron is on his way out.

Another group of Catholics, the Laity Forward Movement, said it will continue to lead the picket in front of the cathedral-basilica even after Byrnes has arrived on island and so long as Apuron holds the title of archbishop.

“We welcome the pope’s decision to designate a replacement for Apuron,” Laity Forward Movement President Lou Klitzkie said on Monday. “Apuron must be removed from the Archdiocese of Agana.”


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