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Vatican tribunal finds Guam archbishop guilty of sexual abuse

March 16, 2018

Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, Guam, has been found guilty of sexual abuse by a Vatican tribunal, and stripped of his office.

The accused archbishop has reportedly appealed the verdict.

Archbishop Apuron had been relieved of his pastoral duties in June 2016, and called to the Vatican, after a series of complaints that he had molested young men. The Vatican appointed an American prelate, Archbishop Michael Byrnes, as coadjutor of the Guam archdiocese, with special faculties to govern the archdiocese until the charges against Archbishop Apuron were resolved. Meanwhile Archbishop Apuron remained in Rome.

In October 2017, Archbishop Byrnes announced that a Vatican tribunal hearing the sex-abuse charges had reached a verdict. But several months passed before that verdict was announced on March 16, 2018. No explanation for the delay has been given. In February, Archbishop Apuron met briefly with Pope Francis after the weekly papal audience, perhaps to seek a last-minute intervention.

The archbishop’s canonical trial was conducted by a panel of five judges, acting under the aegis of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The tribunal imposed the penalties of “privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam.” These penalties will be suspended, however, until the archbishop’s appeal is heard.

Unless his sentence is reversed on appeal, Archbishop Apuron will be the second archbishop to be stripped of his ecclesiastical title after a canonical trial on abuse charges. In 2014, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who had been the apostolic nuncio in the Dominican Republic when multiple complaints were lodged, was stripped of his rank and laicized. The Polish prelate was also scheduled to face a criminal trial, again before a Vatican court, on molestation charges, but he died suddenly before the trial began.

In Guam, several young men have filed civil lawsuits against Archbishop Apuron. Last year the prelate’s attorney said that Apuron would not engage in settlement talks until his canonical trial concluded.


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