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Archbishop apologizes to sex abuse victims

HAGÅTÑA — Archbishop Michael Byrnes on Monday apologized to all clerical sex abuse victims on behalf of the church, as he leads the Catholic faithful toward “a new journey” following the conviction of his predecessor, Anthony Apuron.

“Our Church is One Body in Christ, so we hang our heads in shame for the grave evil one member inflicted upon others, in this case the most vulnerable,” said Byrnes, who replaced Apuron as head of the Archdiocese of Agana.church

After the conclusion of the canonical trial, the Vatican’s apostolic tribunal last week announced its verdict, finding Apuron guilty of “certain of the accusations” and ordering him removed from office and banned from the Church.

 “I issue this public apology on behalf of the entire Archdiocese of Agana. Our Church is One Body in Christ, so we weep as one at the grave harm our family members have endured,” Byrnes said.

The conclusion of the canonical trial, Byrnes said, has “now closed a significant chapter in our Archdiocese of Agana and thus begin a new one.

  “It is a new journey forward for the Catholic Church on Guam,” said Byrnes, who replaced Apuron as head of the Archdiocese of Agana.

Apuron has been accused of sexually abusing altar boys when he was a priest at Mount Carmel Parish Church in the 1970s. The Vatican’s brief press release, however, did not specify the charges and did not say how many charges had been filed against Apuron. 

 “It has been a long and painful period for our Church and our island in general,” Byrnes said. “However, few have known pain quite as agonizing and extensive as the persons who first came forward nearly two years ago telling their stories of being abused by Father Tony Apuron, who later became the Archbishop of Agana.”

Byrnes apologized to Apuron’s victims, Roy Quintanilla, Walter Denton, Roland Paul Sondia, and the late Joseph “Sonny” Quinata “for the tremendous damage inflicted upon each of you by now Bishop Apuron.”

Byrnes also apologized to the victims’ families —I ncluding Quinata’s mother, Doris — who “have suffered as well.”

“I will pray for my brother Anthony as I do for his victims. With humility, I ask for the Faithful to also assist Bishop Apuron in prayer and penance, that he may find grace in repentance and mercy for his soul,” Byrnes said.

Apuron is appealing the verdict but the Vatican said, “In the absence of an appeal, the sentence becomes final and effective. In the case of an appeal, the imposed penalties are suspended until final resolution.”

“It is important to emphasize that I am not competent to interpret the matter reviewed by the apostolic tribunal,” Byrnes said. “The competence and expertise come from Rome and the tribunal under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We receive our guidance from the Holy See, and shall do so, always.”

Byrnes said the archdiocese will continue to work with survivors of clergy abuse and their lawyers to settle all cases fairly and amicably.

“We have revised and strengthened our policy on sexual abuse and sexual misconduct to follow the highest standards, including implementation of a Safe Environment program,” he said.

He said the church will continue its training strengthening abuse prevention and awareness, which now includes mandatory on-line training by all our clergy, employees and volunteers through the nationally-recognized Virtus program.

As of today, 2,250 clergy, employees and volunteers have registered in the on-line training program and 1,975 have completed the course, according to the archdiocese.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/102999-archbishop-apologizes-to-sex-abuse-victims

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