Tuesday, April 3, 2018


On March 16, the Vatican announced that former Archbishop Anthony Apuron had been found guilty by a tribunal of five judges. The same announcement pronounced the two-fold penalty on Apuron: privation of office; and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Agana.

Due to the stunted English version of the original announcement, which referred only to "the canonical trial of minors" and the awkward phrase "certain of the accusations," there was some question as to exactly what Apuron had been found guilty of.

However, the Italian version, the official language of everyday business at the Vatican, was clearer: "The canonical process in relation to the accusations, including those of child sexual abuse..." The Italian went to say "some of the accusations" versus "certain of the accusations."

The English was later amended to say the same, however, the vague language of the original English announcement created a quick storm of confusion, during which Apuron's defenders seized the moment to cast doubt as to whether or not he was found guilty of sexually abusing minors.


Additionally, both supporters and critics noted that Apuron had not been "defrocked," a typical penalty for priests found guilty of sex abuse.

"Defrock" is a strong word and served as a rallying cry for those who wanted Apuron gone, but actually defrocked is the last thing we would want the Vatican to do to Apuron.

Defrocking, more properly called "laicization," returns a cleric to a layman state, essentially setting him free to live life as he pleases.

By not laicizing Apuron, the pope, who is the ultimate authority in the disciplining of a bishop, has not only decided to keep Apuron on a leash, he has also imposed an unheard of penalty by banishing him from ever again living in his home diocese.

And while Apuron's sentence would be suspended in the event of an appeal, there is no appeal until the Vatican says there is one, and it has not.

Archbishop Michael Byrnes is now the Archbishop of Agana and will remain the Archbishop of Agana until the Vatican says otherwise.