VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Pope is sending a Detroit, Michigan bishop to head the Guam archdiocese. On Monday, October 31, Pope Francis appointed Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Byrnes of Detroit as coadjutor archbishop of Guam, effective immediately. Guam's current archbishop is under investigation for sexually molesting altar boys and has been stripped of his pastoral and administrative authority.
Byrnes was born in Detroit on August 23, 1958 and was ordained a priest of the archdiocese in 1996. He was appointed bishop in 2011 under Abp. Allen Vigneron.
The appointment of Byrnes as coadjutor archbishop came after Abp. Savio Hon Tai Fai, who was sent to Guam by the Holy Father to investigate the accusations, and called for the removal of the current archbishop after he refused to resign voluntarily.
In September, 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."
Hon continued in his two-page statement of his findings, "I can assure you that the gravely serious allegations against Archbishop 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."
To be a coadjutor archbishop means Byrnes will succeed Apuron if he were to resign or die. In a Vatican press release, Byrnes was granted "special faculties," and he will assume the pastoral and administrative duties in the Guam archdiocese.
Apuron was first accused of sexual abuse in May by Roy Quintanilla. Quintanilla said he was molested 40 years ago when he was a 12-year-old altar server in Agat when Apuron was a priest. Since then five other men have accused Apuron of molesting them when they were altar boys.
Apuron has denied the accusations and has not yet been charged with any crime.