Thursday, March 22, 2018


GUAM DAILY POST: Apuron verdict means the start of a new chapter for Guam

[My comments in red.]

The Vatican’s verdict against Bishop Anthony Apuron, former archbishop, marked a historic moment for the Catholic Church and the people of Guam.

Apuron left Guam amid allegations that he sexually abused altar boys decades ago.

[To be precise, Apuron left Guam after exactly ONE allegation of sexual abuse. Apuron showed up in photos in Rome on May 25, 2016. At that point, only Roy Quintanilla had come forward (on May 17).]

Apuron was found guilty of “certain” accusations, according to a statement from the Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was removed from office and prohibited from living on Guam, the tribunal stated.

[Just a note on the translation. While the Vatican bulletin notes that the text was originally published in English, the translation of the Italian seems to be more clear: "di alcune delle accuse" = "of some of the accusations."]

Maintaining he's innocent, Apuron appealed the decision. The prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith will decide whether to accept the appeal, The Catholic News Agency reported.

[This is correct. There is NO appeal until the prefect for the CDF decides to accept it. Thus far he has not.]

The tribunal's decision leaves important questions unanswered. For which accusations was Apuron found guilty? If the tribunal reached a decision in October 2017, why was the verdict made public now?

[Once again, the Italian translation is much clearer. Where as the English refers only to "the canonical trial of minors," the Italian states: "Il processo canonico in relazione alle accuse, incluse quelle di abusi sessuali su minori, imputate contro il Reverendissimo Anthony Sablan Apuron, O.F.M. Cap., Arcivescovo di Agaña, Guam, si è concluso." which translates as: "The canonical process in relation to the accusations, including those of child sexual abuse, charged against the Reverend Anthony Sablan Apuron, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Agaña, Guam, has concluded." The Italian translation leaves no question as to what Apuron was tried for and found guilty of.]

The victims, their families and the entire community deserve answers. While the Vatican’s decision is a relief, there must be transparency so that the church can rebuild trust and restore peace.

[It appears, from the news accounts, that Apuron's victims, at least the ones we know of, have the answer they want: GUILTY and more importantly, GONE - though all have expressed their desire to confront him to his face and hear an apology.]

We commend the victims who shared their painful experiences to seek justice. If there are more victims, we hope that they step forward for justice and closure.

[There ARE more victims. And it would be encouraging to see our local media do a little more investigative reporting other than report on what was filed in Superior Court. There are many more stories, especially how Apuron got to be a bishop in the first place.]

We also applaud the Catholics who demand accountability from the church. Their tireless efforts made a profound difference as church officials started to address the allegations of sexual abuse and to take much-needed action.

[And it must never cease to be noted that the majority of these Catholics were the elderly, the last people anyone would expect to stand up to a powerful archbishop. Yet, they did. And that's a story too.]

At the same time, we see hopeful signs from Archbishop Michael Byrnes. He offered an apology to victims, and he said the church would focus on penance and reparation. We look forward to seeing the fractured archdiocese heal.

[Yes, Archbishop Byrnes has made it very clear that we are now in a "post-Apuron" era, that it is time to put him and his three decades of ruin behind us. However, there are still many members of the Apuron "deep state" in positions of power and authority within the diocese. Byrnes will have to "drain the swamp" before he and we can truly move on.]

The Vatican’s decision should mean a change in mindset for the church and the entire community. We must not tolerate sexual abuse anywhere, from churches to organizations to families. Adults must speak up for those who can’t, especially young children.

[Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say: "As the Church goes so goes the world." And St. John Crysostom preached: "Do you wish to know if the people of any place are righteous? Look what sort of a pastor they have." Guam has shockingly high rates of child maltreatment as well as an infamous rate of suicide. Perhaps now things will change.]

We must continue to do more than reflect on the past; we must look to the future for recovery and prevention.

As the Vatican’s decision marked the end of one chapter in our island’s history, a story of healing, hope and wholeness is just beginning.

[Yes, it is.]