News ID: 240925
Published: 0204 GMT April 04, 2019

Vatican removes Guam archbishop after conviction of sexual abuse

Vatican removes Guam archbishop after conviction of sexual abuse

The Catholic archbishop of the US island territory of Guam has been definitively convicted of sexual abuse of minors and removed from office, the Vatican said on Thursday in a ruling that advocates for abuse victims condemned as weak.

Anthony Apuron, who was accused of abusing three young men decades ago, was first convicted by a Vatican tribunal a year ago and had appealed. He has denied wrongdoing, reported.

The tribunal of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith upheld the first verdict, a statement said.

Apuron, 73 and a native of Guam, was removed from office and prohibited from living on the island, even temporarily, the Vatican said.

He was not however, expelled from the priesthood and was allowed to keep the title of bishop, something which advocates for victims of abuse said they found shocking.

In a statement, Apuron said he was “deeply saddened” by the decision, adding “I believe that the facts and evidence presented demonstrated my total innocence.”

The Vatican said the decision announced on Thursday was definitive and no longer could be challenged on appeal. Apuron had served as the island’s archbishop since 1986.

The Church’s credibility has been crushed in much of the world by abuse scandals in countries including Ireland, Chile, Australia, France, the United States and Poland. The Church has paid billions of dollars in damages to victims and forced parishes to close.

Other senior Church officials have been accused of knowingly covering up abuse, including the archbishop of Lyon who was convicted this year in France for failing to report abuse.

Archbishop Michael Byrnes, a former assistant bishop of Detroit, succeeds Apuron as archbishop of the island’s single archdiocese, Agana.

The archdiocese, which has been hit by a number of lawsuits by victims of abuse, has filed for reorganisation bankruptcy in the island’s US district court.

Guam’s population of about 170,000 is predominantly Catholic.



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