Thursday, January 23, 2020


In this past Sunday's Umatuna (the "newspaper of the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam") there was printed on page 6 an article entitled: Shepherding amid scandal: Archbishops talk about healing.

The author of the article is Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service and the editor's note says that the article was based on a June 2019 CNS interview with Archbishop Byrnes.

The article begins:
ROME - The first time Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agana, Guam, celebrated Mass in his cathedral, he had to cross a picket line to do so.
and goes on to state:
When he arrived in 2016, protesters had been gathering outside the cathedral before every Mass the former archbishop celebrated. To celebrate his first Mass there, Byrnes had to cross the picket line.

This is FALSE

First, Archbishop Byrnes did not have to "cross a picket line" to enter the Cathedral. The Cathedral has multiple entrances, including the entrance from the sacristy. The picketers did not block any of the entrances, restricting their activity to the public sidewalk in front of the Cathedral.

Second, Archbishop Byrnes actually JOINED the picketers in a gesture of solidarity. The Pacific Daily News memorialized the Archbishop's "joining" the picketers in its news report dated February 2, 2017:
Four days after briefly joining peaceful protest in front of the cathedral, Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes said he supports and respects clergy sex abuse victims’ and their supporters’ quest for justice, which he said is ongoing both at the Vatican and in the civil courts.
Third, it was not his first Mass. Archbishop Byrnes came to Guam in 2016, and the one time he JOINED the picketers was on January 29, 2017, as the Pacific Daily News memorializes:

Cindy Wooden also reports that Guam's Catholics "were in an uproar." 
The appointment “was a little overwhelming,” the archbishop said. Guam was far away and Catholics there were in an uproar.
This is also FALSE.

Other than praying the rosary and singing hymns, the public protests and picketing were absolutely silent. And almost all of the participants were elderly, some even "walking" the picket line in their wheelchairs and walkers. 

It is very doubtful that Archbishop Byrnes gave CNS such false and destructive information, so it is either the CNS author embellishing her story or the information came from someone else in the chancery, and perhaps from the same people who tried to paint us as an angry mob when Apuron was still running things. 

Such false dramatization hurts the Church. If there is anything that happened on Guam it is lesson to the rest of the Catholic world in what the "little people" can do, did do, and still do. 

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