Posts Tagged Archbishop Anthony Apuron

Catholic clergy sexual abuse: moving toward accountability?

Recent events revolving around Catholic clergy sexual abuse suggest the proverbial tide may be turning in the scandal from the Church’s knee-jerk closing of institutional ranks to action against perpetrators and abettors, both by the Church and civil authorities.

A marked example of how far the institutional response has progressed toward accountability is retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick stepping down from active ministry after the Vatican determined that allegations of sexual abuse were found “credible and substantiated.” The abuse occurred nearly 50 years ago when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York. Nothing additional was known about the incident at the time of this writing, but McCarrick is likely the first cardinal to step aside because of sexual abuse.

Another obvious evidence of a change in the Church’s attitude is the change in Pope Francis. Over just a few weeks he has shifted from calling Chilean abuse survivors’ allegations “calumny” to removing three bishops, after he met with Chilean abuse victims and Vatican investigator Archbishop Charles Scicluna turned in his report. Chilean police and prosecutors also raided Catholic Church offices in the Osorno Diocese of Bishop Juan Barros. Scicluna and his colleague, Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, have returned to Chile to help ensure “adequate responses to each case of sexual abuse of minors.”

The Archdiocese of Mexico City’s response has been a partnership with the Survivors of those Abused by Priests on programs to protect children. To date, SNAP has been so critical of the Church for its handling of the scandal that it has become anathema to most bishops, particularly in the United States.

Throughout the scandal’s history, many Catholics have taken a jaundiced view of survivor settlements. Yet, in St. Paul-Minneapolis, which rose out of bankruptcy only recently with a $210 million settlement with survivors, parishioners are actually contributing to the settlement. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Father Daniel Griffith at Our Lady of Lourdes. “We’re all part of the archdiocese, and we all need to be part of the solution.”

States’ attorneys general have long tried to pry open the scandal, with limited results, but momentum is building, most visibly in Pennsylvania. A report is due at the end of this month from a grand jury investigation covering six dioceses (Greensburg, Allentown, Scranton, Erie, Harrisburg, Pittsburg — As of this writing, the Pennsylvania Supreme court has tempoarily blocked release of the report). Those close to the report tout conclusions as the worst ever. Legislators there are hoping the report finally will prompt changes in the state’s statute of limitation for sexual assault, which devastating grand jury reports in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and Philadelphia Archdiocese were unable to achieve; although the 2011 report in Philadelphia resulted in the convictions of two priests.

Where the law allows, national governments have investigated institutional abuse of minors. The Church has figured highly in these investigations, which, for example, have taken place in Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and The Netherlands, and a statutory inquiry in the United Kingdom and Wales is ongoing. At least in Australia, the inquiry has led to changes in the law that include attempting to force priests to break the seal of confession where clergy sexual abuse of a minor is involved.

Speaking of Australia, the scandal has ensnared two highly placed prelates there. Cardinal George Pell is now standing trial on multiple counts of historic sexual abuse, while on leave from his position as Vatican treasurer. Archbishop Philip Wilson’s trial for covering up clergy abuse recently resulted in his conviction, and he is to be sentenced next month.

Guam’s Archbishop Anthony Apuron is now appealing his Vatican conviction earlier this spring for “certain accusations” of sexual abuse of minors. He has been removed from office. The Church and lawyers there are attempting to settle more than 170 civil suits brought by abuse survivors (184 people in Guam have said they were abused by clergy or others associated with the Church).

Predicting where all this will lead is risky. These events, however, are not the same as the apologies and promises that too often in the past have not resulted in change. They are examples of the Church and civil authorities actually taking action.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of Australia’s bishop conference told Cruxnow.com that the atmosphere today in the Vatican is totally different than in 2002. Now, “there is a determination to work with all the local churches in really trying to, first of all, understand the phenomenon and the scale and the complexity, and then to tie action, not just wring the hands or have another discussion, but to actually take action … There is absolutely no room for complacency, but there is room for encouragement.”

As Voice of the Faithful was recently quoted in a PennLive.com article on the Pennsylvania scandal, perhaps “we’ve come to a point where the Church has realized this cannot go on.”

(For many more examples of how the tide may be turning on the clergy abuse scandal see Voice of the Faithful’s most recent “Focus” news roundup column.)

Reprinted from Voice of the Faithful’s In the Vineyard e-newsletter.

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Vatican sentences Guam archbishop accused of abuse to removal from office, exile / National Catholic Reporter

(Guam Archbishop Anthony) Apuron, a Guam native who had led the island’s only diocese since 1986, was placed on leave by Pope Francis in June 2016 after a series of accusations about abuse of young men in the 1960s and 70s were made public. (National Catholic Reporter)

A Vatican tribunal has found Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who had been accused of sexually abusing young men decades ago, ‘guilty of certain of the accusations,’ imposing a penalty of removal from office and a prohibition from living on the U.S. island territory.

“A five-judge apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced its verdict in Apuron’s canonical case March 16 with a brief press release. The release did not specify of which exact acts the archbishop had been found guilty.

“‘The canonical trial in the matter of accusations, including accusations of sexual abuse of minors … has been concluded,’ states the release. ‘The Apostolic Tribunal … has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam.’

“Apuron, a Guam native who had led the island’s only diocese since 1986, was placed on leave by Pope Francis in June 2016 after a series of accusations about abuse of young men in the 1960s and 70s were made public.

“Francis named an apostolic administrator to run the archdiocese for several months and then named Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes, a former auxiliary bishop of Detroit, to take over.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Ex-altar boy refuses to testify at Vatican Guam abuse trial / Associated Press

A former altar boy who accused Guam’s longtime archbishop of sexually abusing him refused Thursday (Feb. 16) to testify before a Vatican court headed by American Cardinal Raymond Burke on the grounds that he couldn’t have his lawyer present … (David) Lujan (abuse victim Ronald Sondia’s lawyer) said the proceedings were ‘worse’ than he had expected because he wasn’t allowed to be present to advise his client, who was to have been ‘questioned by the prosecutor, who is a priest, and Archbishop Apuron’s lawyer, who is a priest, and a presider who is Cardinal Burke, and a notary who is also a priest.’” (emphasis added)

By Nicole Winfield and Garces Bordallo, Associated Press on Yahoo.com — Read more …

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Cardinal Burke presides over trial investigating Guam archbishop / Catholic News Service

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a church law expert and former head of the Vatican’s highest court, arrived in Guam Feb. 15 as the presiding judge in a church trial investigating allegations of sexual abuse leveled against Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana.

“The Vatican press office confirmed a ‘tribunal of the first instance’ was constituted by the Vatican Oct. 5 and its presiding judge is Cardinal Burke. Four other judges, all of whom are bishops, also were appointed, the press office said.”

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic New Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Fall of an archbishop; Byrnes set to arrive, steps in for Apuron / Pacific Daily News

“In the 14 years since the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal was uncovered in Boston and spread to parishes across the country and around the world, abuse allegations on Guam remained secret. Until now.”

When Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes arrives today (Nov. 28), he will step into a fractured community of the faith.

“Officially, he is coming to assist Archbishop Anthony Apuron in running the Archdiocese of Agana, and to serve as Apuron’s successor. But Apuron has been out of the public eye since June, when the Vatican suspended him and sent Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai to temporarily oversee the Guam church. Apuron faces what an archdiocese spokesman described as “credible accusations of child sexual abuse against him,” and a canonical trial is being prepared in Rome.

“Prior to his departure, Apuron led the Catholic faithful here for 30 years. He positioned himself as a fierce defender of morality, local culture and tradition, and used his power as a spiritual leader to influence political decisions. He also argued against a law that would remove the statute of limitations for civil suits in child sex abuse cases, and he once wrote a letter to a judge urging leniency for a former altar boy who confessed to sexually abusing a 2-year-old.”

By Haidee V. Eugenio and Dana M. Williams, Pacific Daily News — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Papal administrator of Guam archdiocese: Vatican preparing trial for accused archbishop / National Catholic Reporter

The papal appointee given authority to take charge of a Guam archdiocese rocked by allegations of sexual abuse against its archbishop has said the Vatican is preparing to put the prelate on trial.

“Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, who Pope Francis appointed in June to step-in over Agana Archbishop Anthony Apuron, told reporters Tuesday (Nov. 1) that ‘they just formed all the conditions for the trial.’

“‘I’m going to receive some news, some updates later,’ said Hon, who has been serving as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator while also remaining the second-in-command of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.”

By Joshua J. McElwee,  Naitonal Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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