Anthony Sablan Apuron
|His Excellency, The Most Reverend
Anthony Sablan Apuron
OFM Cap., D.D.
|Metropolitan Archbishop of Agaña|
|Appointed||March 10, 1986|
|Installed||May 11, 1986|
|Term ended||sede plena|
|Predecessor||Felixberto Camacho Flores|
|Successor||Michael Jude Byrnes|
|Ordination||August 26, 1972|
|Consecration||February 19, 1984
by Felixberto Camacho Flores, Joseph Anthony Ferrario, and Peter Baptist Tadamaro Ishigami
November 1, 1945 |
|Previous post||Titular Bishop of Muzuca in Byzacena (1983–1986)|
Anthony Sablan Apuron
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
Anthony Sablan Apuron (born November 1, 1945) has been archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Agaña since 1986.
Apuron was born on 1 November 1945 in Tamuning, Guam, the eighth of ten children of Manuel Taijito Apuron and Ana Santos Sablan. He was educated at St. Anthony College in Hudson, New Hampshire, and at Capuchin Seminary in Garrison, New York. He studied at Maryknoll Seminary in New York City and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He was ordained a priest in 1972. He is a member of the Neocatechumenal-Way, a movement in the Catholic church.
In opposition to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, Apuron drew controversy by writing a letter distributed by his archdiocese in October 2009 complimenting Islamists who punish homosexuality with death, and contrasting them with homosexual culture, which he described as self-absorbed.[dead link] It said in part:
Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. That is why they repress such behavior by death. Their culture is anything but one of self-absorption. It may be brutal at times, but any culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers (women as well as men) is a culture that at least knows how to value self-sacrifice.
The letter was released amid ongoing public discussion about homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
In April 2015, Apuron penned a public letter about same-sex marriage in which he wrote:
It is important to understand that the political pressure to push the agenda for same-sex “marriage” has never been about gay rights; the true intention behind this agenda has always been about the destruction of the family and the imposition of the totalitarian system.
On June 8, 2015, a court decision took effect that established full legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Guam. A US Supreme Court ruling later on June 26 had a comparable effect nationwide.
Sexual abuse allegations
In response to longstanding rumors in the community of sexual abuse at the hands of its priests, the church in 2010 issued a press release inviting those with information about any abuse to report it. The statement read, in part, "We take the protection of children very seriously" and that the church was ready to provide assistance "as part of the church’s charity and embrace of those suffering and in need."
In November 2014, California resident John C. "the typhoon" Toves contacted the media with accusations that Apuron had molested the former's cousin in the early 1980s. Apuron responded by claiming he would file a defamation lawsuit against Toves. Toves returned to Guam and attempted to confront Apuron in person, but was told he was unable to see the archbishop because the latter was "not available". An appointment with the church resulted in Toves being allowed to meet with the archdiocese's "sexual abuse response coordinator" Larry Claros. Claros announced there would be no investigation into the allegations because "the policy of the archdiocese on sexual abuse calls for the victim to make a complaint", and the cousin allegedly molested by Apuron did not come forward. However, Toves hoped that Apuron would proceed with the threatened lawsuit because it would require the archbishop to give a deposition under oath. Toves stated, “It’s about other victims, future victims...
On 17 May 2016, Roy T. Quintanilla, a Hawaii resident and former altar boy at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Agat became the first of Apuron's alleged victims to publicly accuse the archbishop of molestation, making the announcement at a press conference in front of the archdiocese chancery office while surrounded by his lawyer, friends and family. The archdiocese responded by announcing it would sue anyone who made such accusations, which it called "malicious lies". Quintanilla said the abuse had occurred 40 years earlier, when he was 12 years old. A statute of limitations on Guam prevented anyone who was sexually victimized before the age of 18 from taking legal action against the perpetrator after the victim turned 21. Senator Benjamin Cruz in 2011 introduced bills in order to abolish the statute; lawmakers subsequently passed the bills and governor Eddie Calvo signed them into law. However, because the laws were changed after the abuse of Quintanilla allegedly occurred, the statute of limitations still applies to his case. Nevertheless, Quintanilla claimed he could prove his allegations, had friends who were also victims of Apuron and with the help of Tim Rohr, a well known blogger and Monsignor James Benavente, who is Attorney David Lujan's Godson. Both have said that they are ready to face Apuron in court any time.
The next day, Vincent Pereda, a member of the Archdiocesan Review Board who had been appointed to his position by archbishop Apuron, stepped down in protest, submitting his resignation to deacon Claros. Pereda stated, "The main point I wanted to make when I came out with this is that the sexual abuse policy is a flawed policy because of the situation the board is in now... The policy pretty much has the archbishop making all the decisions and determinations when it comes to handling sexual misconduct cases within the archdioceses." Pereda, a clinical social worker and licensed therapist for over 30 years, indicated that Quintanilla had spoken with him, and went on to state that he would be willing to testify on the stand to vouch for Quintanilla's credibility because he is a close relative.
A week after Quintanilla's announcement, Prescott, Arizona resident Doris Y. Concepcion, the mother of another former altar boy who had died, came forward with further allegations of sexual abuse. She said her son, Joseph A. Quinata, revealed shortly before his death that Apuron had molested him. Her family and Quintanilla's both lived on the same street at the time that the abuse was allegedly occurring. Concepcion stated that after reading about Quintanilla, she felt compelled to speak out after years of her sons death. "I felt that I need to speak out because I am in need of financial support and Mr. Rohr was willing to assist." The archdiocese responded by giving notice of legal action against her, in addition to Quintanilla.
On June 5, Apuron issued a decree "banning" the Concerned Catholics of Guam (CCOG), a community group not officially affiliated with the church, which has been involved with victims' advocacy issues and in a campaign to harass Apuron. Apuron deemed them a "prohibited society", and forbade members of the church from associating with them on the basis of, among other things, their dissemination of "fraudulent or otherwise malicious allegations" against him.
That same day, Pope Francis placed Apuron on leave and appointed an apostolic administrator sede plena, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, S.D.B., a Vatican official, to lead the archdiocese while Apuron deals with the charges against him. Only one day earlier, the pope had issued updated guidelines in an apostolic letter regarding the ouster of those in the church who have allowed sexual abuse to occur there.
On June 7, Casa Grande, Arizona resident and former Agat altar boy Walter G. Denton held a press conference to state that he too had been sexually abused by Apuron, in April 1977 at the age of 13. In a subsequent radio interview, Denton said that while visiting Guam in 2015, he learned one of his cousins had been molested by the archbishop, and that this motivated him to finally come forward after 40 years about his own experience and that he confided in Father Jack, who is now deceased and that Denton was in need of financial support as well. He realized that reporting it to the archdiocese would be futile because Apuron, as head of the diocese, was also in charge of all investigations regarding sexual abuse. Denton's attempt to file a report against Apuron eventually led him to submit a notarized letter to Martin Krebs, Apostolic Delegate to the Pacific Islands, in August of that year. Krebs then took the letter to the Vatican. A few months later, Denton was met by bishop Thomas Olmsted in Arizona, who assured him that the Vatican was investigating. That was the last Denton heard from anyone in the church about the matter before he made the decision to publicly come forward. Denton also stated that he had in fact tried to report the abuse he experienced to a priest, the late father Jack Nilan, not long after it occurred. However, he said he later met father Nilan in Hawaii, and learned that even though Nilan had discussed it with other seminarians, no action was ever taken. Denton's lawyer, David Lujan, stated that other alleged victims of Apuron had also been in touch with him.
Stephen Martinez, a deacon who was also coordinator of a group within the archdiocese tasked with reviewing sexual abuse allegations, informed Apuron in 2014 that the archbishop was violating the church's policy on the investigation of sex abuse in regards to allegations not related to the ones made by those who later publicly came forward. Apuron subsequently removed Martinez from the group. Martinez has since stated that Apuron protected himself with the church's policies regarding sexual abuse. He also stated that Apuron's refusal to step down as archbishop while being scrutinized over sexual abuse allegations was a demonstration of "incompetence". In a press release, the archdiocese's response was that Martinez's statements were “calumny of such magnitude that the only avenue, which we are following, is recourse to the civil and canonical legal processes to address these intentional lies”.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
- Apuron, Anthony. "Laws seek to destroy families". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- Hart, Therese (14 April 2010). "Guam church willing to hear allegations of sex abuse". Marianas Variety.
- Toves, Jolene (4 December 2014). "John Toves unable to meet with archbishop". KUAM.
- Stole, Jasmine (May 16, 2016). "Man alleges archbishop molested him as a child". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Raymundo, Shawn (23 May 2016). "Law limits sexual abuse charges". Pacific Daily News.
- Azios, Tony (17 May 2016). "Roy Quintanilla responds to archbishop's denial of abuse". The Guam Daily Post.
- Paco, Krystal (20 May 2016). "Archdiocesan Review Board member quits over church's flawed sex abuse policy". KUAM.
- Eugenio, Haidee V (May 31, 2016). "Mother of deceased man accuses Apuron of molesting son". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- Losinio, Louella. "Apuron decree bans Catholic group". The Guam Daily Post. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- Scammell, Rose (June 6, 2016). "Pope Francis puts Guam archbishop accused of sex abuse on leave". Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Povoledo, Elisabetta. "Pope Francis Sets Guidelines for Removing Bishops Who Mishandle Sex Abuse Cases". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- Paco, Krystal. "Third alleged sexual abuse victim comes forward against archbishop". KUAM. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- Matanane, Sabrina Salas (9 June 2016). "Walter Denton: case under investigation by Vatican since 2015". KUAM.
- Eugenio, Haidee V (10 June 2016). "Denton: Vatican was informed about Guam rape in August 2015". Pacific Daily News.
- Eugenio, Haidee V (3 June 2016). "Archdiocese: Law firm, investigator examine allegations". Pacific Daily News.
- Lamb, Christopher (16 February 2017). "Burke Pursues Justice Mission 7,000 Miles from Rome". The Tablet. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
Felixberto Camacho Flores
|Archbishop of Agana
May 11, 1986 – present