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Archbishop named for troubled Guam diocese

July 08, 2024

» Continue to this story on Vatican Press Office

CWN Editor's Note: Pope Francis has named Bishop Ryan Jimenez, president of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific and vice president of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, as the new archbishop of Agaña, Guam’s sole diocese. The archdiocese emerged from bankruptcy in 2022 following hundreds of allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

Bishop Jimenez, 52, was born in the Philippines and ordained a priest of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in the Northern Mariana Islands in 2003. Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Chalan Kanoa in 2014.

Bishop Jimenez succeeds Archbishop Michael Byrnes, a Detroit native who was appointed archbishop of Agaña in 2019. Archbishop Byrnes left Guam in 2022 because of a “life-changing illness” and resigned in 2023 at the age of 64.

Archbishop Byrnes’s predecessor was Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, OFM Cap., who governed the Church in Guam from 1985 until the Vatican removed him from office in 2019. In 2018, Pope Francis said he would personally decide Archbishop Apuron’s appeal after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty of sexually abusing minors. “I am waiting for the report and then I will pass judgement,” Pope Francis emphasized (links).

In 2019, the Congregation announced the judgment. Even though Archbishop Apuron was found guilty of multiple “delicts against the Sixth Commandment with minors,” a relatively light sentence was imposed: “the privation of office; the perpetual prohibition from dwelling, even temporarily, in the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Agaña; and the perpetual prohibition from using the insignia attached to the rank of Bishop.”

As a result of the judgment that Pope Francis said was his own, Archbishop Apuron, despite multiple acts of sexual abuse of minors, has been free to minister publicly outside of Guam (with the permission of the local bishop), as long as he does not wear the distinctive insignia of a bishop.

The above note supplements, highlights, or corrects details in the original source (link above). About CWN news coverage.


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