Pope names suc­ces­sor to Guam arch­bishop ac­cused of sex abuse

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The new leader of the Catholic Church in Guam will im­me­di­ately as­sume all re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the arch­dio­cese while its sus­pended arch­bishop faces a church trial for al­legedly sex­u­ally abus­ing al­tar boys, a church leader said Tues­day. Pope Fran­cis on Mon­day named Bishop Michael Jude Byrnes, the aux­il­iary bishop of Detroit, as the new leader of the Guam arch­dio­cese.

At a news con­fer­ence Tues­day, Arch­bishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, who is tem­po­rar­ily run­ning the church, said Fran­cis gave Byrnes spe­cial rights to carry out all the du­ties as arch­bishop ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately. Guam had been with­out a full-time leader since Arch­bishop An­thony Apuron, 71, was re­lieved of his du­ties after sev­eral for­mer al­tar boys ac­cused him of child sex­ual abuse. He is fac­ing a canon­i­cal trial in the Vat­i­can. Apuron said in a state­ment is­sued Wed­nes­day that he has “re­mained on re­treat while work­ing with the au­thor­i­ties in the Vat­i­can to es­tab­lish my in­no­cence.”

He also said that he wel­comed Byrnes ap­point­ment, call­ing it an “an­swer to my re­quests for help in the gov­er­nance of the is­land at this time.” Byrnes is ex­pected to ar­rive at the end of Novem­ber, and will lead parish­ioners on the clos­ing of the Ju­bilee Year of Mercy and the 50th an­niver­sary of the foun­da­tion of the Guam dio­cese. “With my brother priests and dea­cons, with the cat­e­chists and other pas­toral work­ers, and above all with the spir­i­tual gifts of the peo­ple of God, I trust we will per­se­vere in faith, hope and love, and will ex­er­cise the ‘wis­dom from above’ to meet these chal­lenges,” Byrnes said in a state­ment.

Smooth tran­si­tion

Hon will re­main on the is­land and as­sist Byrnes with a smooth tran­si­tion. Byrnes, who was or­dained a pri­est in 1996 and el­e­vated to bishop in 2011, has also worked in pas­toral ad­min­is­tra­tion and sem­i­nary teach­ing, and served on an arch­dioce­san Pres­byteral Coun­cil. The Detroit arch­dio­cese’s web­site says he played a key role in evan­ge­liza­tion ef­forts. Apuron has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and re­fused to step down. He has not been charged crim­i­nally. The al­le­ga­tions got lit­tle at­ten­tion when they first came to light in 2014 but resur­faced this sum­mer after a dea­con ac­cused Apuron of keep­ing the arch­dio­cese’s sex­ual abuse pol­icy weak to pro­tect him­self. — AP

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