"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious." - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1972
Is the church violating its own policy on sexual misconduct? That's the view of one vocal deacon.
Father Luis Camacho was a pastor stripped of his faculties and asked to resign after his arrest for custodial interference last March. The priest is the former pastor of San Dionisio and San Dimas. He was accused of taking a 17-year-old student to a remote beach in Agat and having sexual contact with her. Camacho was arrested by police last year and a canonical investigation was launched.
But a year later and the church confirms the investigation is still ongoing, and yet recent reports show Father Luis has resurfaced in the middle east, ministering to children.
Deacon Stephen Martinez is the Archdiocese's former sexual abuse response coordinator, and told KUAM News, "Yes, I'm concerned. One, because you have a priest who has an allegation, the archdiocese contends that the investigation is still undergoing, yet they've still rendered a final decision to remove his faculties, and here he is practicing somewhere else as a priest, and I think that's very dangerous to the children that are exposed to his ministry."
In a statement to KUAM, Archdiocese of Agana spokesperson and chancellor Father Adrian Cristobal said Father Camacho was accused of custodial interference and not sexual misconduct, a statement that surprised Martinez. "Because I personally wrote a letter to the archbishop and Child Protective Services that there was an incident that appeared to me to be sexual abuse of a child," he said.
Cristobal added that no criminal case was ever brought forth against Camacho, requiring expungement. Martinez said, "There's civil law, and civil remedies, and then there's church law, and church remedies. So even if the civil law decides never to pursues the case, that still does not change the fact that there is an allegation of a serious violation of the sex abuse policy that must be followed-up on."
When asked if he thinks that the archdiocese is being true to its sexual misconduct policy, the deacon replied, "No - they have violated their policy on sex abuse." He added, "Sending Father Luis to any location outside of Guam - or any parish within Guam - seems to be contradictory to the zero tolerance policy that the archdiocese has established."
Father Cristobal said Father Camacho is still a priest of the Archdiocese of Agana and is under supervised ministry. "They've put him under psychological watch and spiritual review, they've removed all of his faculties, they can send him off-island. That's fine, but he should not be practicing ministry there," said Martinez.
Martinez added he's incredulous the investigation was never completed. He said if found innocent, the archdiocese is obliged to clear Camacho's name. While cases of sexual abuse happen everywhere, he said the church should be a leading model of how it's handled.