Archbishop Byrnes asks: What now for Guam?

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“Members of our Church, our island community, even those who have watched closely from beyond the seas, surely ask ‘now what?’”

This was the question posed by Archbishop of Hagåtña (Guam), Michael Byrnes, at a press conference on Tuesday.

He was speaking after an Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced that it has found the former archbishop of Hagåtña, Anthony Apuron, guilty of sexually abusing minors.

Byrnes offering apologies on behalf of the Archdiocese to those who had been harmed.

“It has been a long and painful period for our Church and our island in general,” he said.

“However, few have known pain quite as agonising and extensive as the persons who first came forward nearly two years ago telling their stories of being abused by Father Tony Apuron, who later became the Archbishop of Hagåtña.”

He said prayers continue to be offered for those harmed by Apuron and all victims of abuse “here and worldwide”.

Byrnes also asked the people to “assist Bishop Apuron in prayer and penance, that he may find grace in repentance and mercy for his soul.”

The Archbishop said, “I do not have all the answers. However, we all know what God requires of each us today and always”.

He said the archdiocese will continue to work toward healing and restoration of all who have been victimised and described the policies and procedures that had been put in place.

Dave Sablan, whose group Concerned Catholics of Guam was formed around the time allegations began to surface, said the verdict was the first bit of justice but the church still had a lot of work to do.

“We can’t really depend on our clergymen to take care of accusing their own brothers so we have to come in and, you know, stand our ground so to speak and make sure that things are done right and correct and, if they’re not, we take them to task.”

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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