“”Guilty of certain accusations” is the latest from a papal bulletin issued on March 16 on Guam’s suspended archbishop Anthony Apuron.
Apuron, to date, stands five times accused of clergy sexual abuse. While the Tribunal has reached their verdict, he still faces civil lawsuits in the District Court of Guam.
According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this means he’ll be removed from office and prohibited from residence in the Archdiocese of Agana.
Just hours after the Holy See’s announcement, Apuron issued a written statementexpressing his intent to appeal, stating, “God is my witness; I am innocent and I look forward to proving my innocence in the appeals process,” adding, “Today my prayers are with the Church in Guam which has been suffering greatly.”
Apuron’s successor will be Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes, who, in previous interviews, stated Apuron’s return would be “disaster.” Via a press release, Archbishop Byrnes welcomed the verdict, writing, “It is a monumental marker in our journey toward healing as one Church, one people in God. I pray that all people will embrace the call for healing.”
Even if Apuron appeals his sentence, local Catholics are urged to push forward with penance and reparation.
A news conference will be held on Monday where Archbishop Byrnes is anticipated to make further comment on what this means for the Archdiocese of Agana. Until then, he extends his prayers and thanks the victims and their families for having the courage to share their agonizing stories of abuse by Apuron.
Roy Quintanilla was the first to publicly accuse Apuron of clergy sexual abuse. Quintanilla tells KUAM, “I always believed that the Vatican would find Apuron guilty. How could they not after our written and personal testimony? This verdict was a long time coming. Apuron enjoyed the life of being the Archbishop of Guam for three decades when he really should have never been bishop in the firs tplace. Lucky for him we remained silent all that time. I am so glad we stopped being silent.”
Quintanilla was the first of five to accuse Apuron – followed by Walter Denton, Roland Sondia, and Doris Concepcion on behalf of her late son Joseph “Sonny” Quinata. Mark Apuron, in recent months, also came forward alleging he was raped by his uncle.
Quintanilla tells KUAM the credit goes to Guam’s laity, saying, “The Vatican’s verdict was made possible because Guam’s faithful stood together against an injustice. Although it took me 40 years to come forward, I’m glad I did and I am glad for everyone that came forward to tell their story.”
According to the Holy See Press Bulletin, Apuron remains in limbo because of his pending appeal.
“This sentence remains subject to possible appeal. 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.”
For more, make sure to join us Monday at 6:30pm for our special report The Vatican Verdict.”