An archbishop sent to Guam to investigate abuse allegations against a fellow cleric has urged the authorities not to enact a law that would allow child sex abuse victims to take their cases to court, regardless of when the alleged crime took place.
According to this report, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, above, was was sent to Guam three months ago to investigate accusations against Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who denies any wrongdoing and claims that he was:
In response to the scandal, Guam’s legislature last week unanimously passed a bill that Savio Hon Tai-Fai says would have “damaging unintended consequences” for the Church in Guam.
He said he would lobby Governor Eddie Calvo not to sign the bill into law, warning that a slew of lawsuits about allegations dating back decades would likely leave the archdiocese bankrupt, as happened to 13 dioceses in the mainland United States. Guam is an American territory in the Pacific Ocean.
Bankruptcy will mean the forced sale of Church properties that currently house our schools and social services. That will have a devastating effect on education and charitable work.
Instead, he proposed a fund to provide financial compensation for victims and the establishment of a task force to ensure children were protected.
I submit that we can and must do these things without destroying all the good being done for our community by our church, both laity and clergy.
In a statement read out at church services across the island on Sunday, the archbishop said he had asked the Holy See to dismiss Apuron, above, after the cleric refused to stand down voluntarily.
I can assure you that the gravely serious allegations against Archbishop Apuron will continue to be dealt with… a canonical trial. His Holiness, Pope Francis, is monitoring the proceedings.
The allegations date back to the 1970s, with at least four former altar boys saying they were molested by Apuron, then a parish priest.
Apuron, who has headed the Agana archdiocese since 1986, has not been charged with any crime.
Savio Hon Tai-Fai’s statement did not directly address the veracity of the allegations, but instead expressed sorrow over the issue of clerical child abuse.
On behalf of the Church, I want to apologise personally to the survivors of sexual abuse everywhere who have suffered so much at the hands of clergy.
We cannot undo the betrayal of trust and faith and the horrendous acts that the clergy have committed against the youngest and the most innocent amongst us.
Hat tip: Peter Sykes