HAGATNA, Guam (ChurchMilitant.com) - An administrator from the Vatican is urging leaders in Rome to remove the head of the Catholic Church in Guam over child sex allegations.
Archbishop Anthony Apuron has been accused of four counts of sexual assault committed in the late 1970s. The accusers are three men who claim when they were altar boys at Agat parish, when Apuron was the parish priest, he molested them. Also, the mother of a deceased former altar boy Joseph Anthony Quinata is accusing the priest of abusing her son, who told her everything that had happened before he died 11 years ago.
Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai was sent to Guam, June 6, to investigate the accusations and currently holds Apuron's duties in the diocese. In a statement read Sunday, Hon said he had asked the Holy See to dismiss Apuron after the cleric refused to stand down voluntarily.
Hon said, "I want you to know that I am in Rome to urge the Holy See to remove Abp. Apuron as archbishop of Agana and to appoint a successor."
He continued, "I can assure you that the gravely serious allegations against Abp. Apuron will continue to be dealt with by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which will hold a canonical trial. His Holiness, Pope Francis, is monitoring the proceedings."
Hon also stated,
On behalf of the Church, I want to apologize personally to the survivors of sexual abuse everywhere who have suffered so much at the hands of clergy. We cannot undo the appalling betrayal of trust and faith and the horrendous acts that clergy have committed against the youngest and most innocent among us. We are committed to helping them heal in body and soul.
Apuron, who has not yet been charged with any crime, denies the allegations and has hired a U.S. law firm to defend him in court.
Last week Guam's legislature passed a bill allowing child sex abuse victims to take their case to court regardless of when it was committed. Hon has been lobbying to get Gov. Eddie Calvo not to sign the bill, saying it would have "damaging unintended consequences," leading the archdiocese in Guam into bankruptcy.
"Bankruptcy will mean the forced sale of Church properties that currently house our schools and social services," he commented. "That will have a devastating effect on education and charitable work."
Hon has proposed a two-part plan to help the victims of sexual abuse: to start a fundraiser to provide compensation for the victims and to create a task force to protect children.