Anthony Sablan Apuron
Anthony Sablan Apuron
|Archbishop Emeritus of Agaña|
|Appointed||March 10, 1986|
|Installed||May 11, 1986|
|Term ended||March 16, 2018|
|Predecessor||Felixberto Camacho Flores|
|Successor||Michael J. Byrnes|
|Ordination||August 26, 1972|
|Consecration||February 19, 1984|
by Felixberto Camacho Flores, Joseph Anthony Ferrario, and Peter Baptist Tadamaro Ishigami
|Born||1 November 1945|
|Previous post||Titular Bishop of Muzuca in Byzacena (1983–1986)|
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Apuron was born on November 1, 1945 in Tamuning, Guam, the eighth of ten children of Manuel Taijito Apuron and Ana Santos Sablan. He joined the Capuchin order and was educated at the order's former St. Anthony College in Hudson, New Hampshire, and at Capuchin Seminary in Garrison, New York. He studied at Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, New York, and the University of Notre Dame. He was ordained a priest in 1972; in 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed Apuron to be Guam's auxiliary bishop. He is a member of the Neocatechumenal Way, a movement in the Catholic church.
In opposition to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, Apuron wrote a letter in October 2009 complimenting Islamists who punish homosexuality with death and contrasting them with homosexual culture, which he described as self-absorbed. It said:
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.
In an April 2015 letter Apuron 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.
Sexual abuse allegations
In 2010, in response to rumors of sexual abuse, the Archdiocese of Agana invited anyone with information about abuse to report it. It said that "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, John C. Toves accused Apuron of molesting Toves' cousin in the early 1980s. Apuron responded threatening a defamation lawsuit against Toves. Apuron refused to meet with Toves, who met instead 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", not a third party.
On May 17, 2016, Roy T. Quintanilla, a Hawaii resident and former altar boy at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Agat, accused Apuron of molestation. The archdiocese responded by announcing it would sue anyone who made such accusations and called them "malicious lies". Quintanilla said the abuse had occurred 40 years earlier, when he was 12 years old. Guam's statute of limitations at the time of the alleged crime prevented anyone who was sexually victimized before the age of 18 from taking legal action against the perpetrator after the victim turned 21.[a] Quintanilla claimed he could prove his allegations and had friends who were also victims of Apuron.
The next day, Vincent Pereda, a member of the Archdiocesan Review Board who had been appointed by Apuron, resigned in protest. He stated 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 archdiocese." Pereda, a clinical social worker and licensed therapist for over 30 years, said he had spoken with Quintanilla, a close relative, and would be willing to vouch for his credibility in court.
Later in May, Doris Y. Concepcion, the mother of another former altar boy who had died, made 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 of the alleged abuse. She stated that after reading about Quintanilla, she felt compelled to speak out. In response the Archdiocese gave notice of legal action against her and 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 church members from associating with the group because it was disseminating "fraudulent or otherwise malicious allegations" against him.
That same day, Pope Francis placed Apuron on leave and appointed an apostolic administrator Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, S.D.B., a Vatican official, to lead the archdiocese while Apuron dealt with the charges against him.[b]
At a June 7 press conference, another former Agat altar boy Walter G. Denton said that he too had been sexually abused by Apuron in April 1977 at the age of 13. He told a radio interviewer that while he learned in 2015 that one of his cousins had been molested by Apuron and that this prompted him to come forward about his own experience forty years earlier. He said that because of Apuron's control of the Archdiocese he had submitted a notarized letter to Martin Krebs, Apostolic Delegate to the Pacific Islands, in August of that year. Krebs delivered the letter to the Vatican. A few months later, Denton was assured by Bishop Thomas Olmsted that the Vatican was investigating.[c] Denton heard nothing further before making his charges public.[d] 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”.
Sometime in 2018, Apuron was removed from public ministry following a trial held by the Catholic Church. Guam's new archbishop, Michael J. Byrnes, says that Apuron did not leave him any records of sex abuse allegations, counter to Church law.
Removal and conviction
In October 2016, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith assigned Cardinal Raymond Burke to preside over Apuron's trial in Guam. The other four judges were bishops. On October 31, Pope Francis replaced his Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, with an Archbishop Coadjutor, Michael J. Byrnes, in a transition from a prelate to manage the Archdiocese temporarily to one whose appointment anticipated Apuron's departure.
On March 16, 2018, Apuron was found guilty on charges of the sexual abuse of minors by the tribunal. He was suspended from the exercise of his authority over the archdiocese and the Arcbhbishop Coadjutor Byrnes assumed those responsibilities. Apuron nevertheless retained his title as Archbishop pending the outcome of further appeals. That verdict was upheld by the Apostolic Tribunal of the CDF on February 7, 2019. Following further review, on April 4, 2019, the CDF confirmed the verdict and declared it final, with no further possible appeal. It described Apuron as "guilty of delicts [transgressions] against the Sixth Commandment with minors". The penalties imposed included removal from office; a perpetual prohibition from dwelling, even temporarily, in the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Agaña; and a perpetual prohibition from using the insignia attached to the rank of Bishop.
In addition to his removal as Bishop, Apuron has also been banned from returning to Catholic property in Guam as well. In August 2019, at least two new sex abuse allegations surfaced against Apuron in lawsuits as well. Like Apuron, some other clergy who have served in the Archdiocese were named as defendants as well.
- In 2011, Senator Benjamin Cruz in 2011 sponsored legislation to abolish the statute of limitations. Its enactment did not impact earlier crimes like those alleged by Quintanilla 
- Only one day earlier, Pope Francis had issued updated guidelines in an apostolic letter regarding the ouster of those in the church who have allowed sexual abuse to occur there.
- Olmsted was the Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, where Denton was then living.
- Denton also said he had reported the abuse to a priest, Rev. Jack Nilan, not long after it occurred, but no action resulted.
- Biesecker, Michael (August 8, 2019). "Guam's Catholics reckon with decades of 'horrific' sex abuse". Associated Press. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Suicide Bombers Are Better Than Gay Marriage". Moderate Voice. October 27, 2009. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Apuron, Anthony. "Laws seek to destroy families". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
- Hart, Therese (April 14, 2010). "Guam church willing to hear allegations of sex abuse". Marianas Variety.
- Toves, Jolene (December 4, 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 (May 23, 2016). "Law limits sexual abuse charges". Pacific Daily News.
- Azios, Tony (May 17, 2016). "Roy Quintanilla responds to archbishop's denial of abuse". The Guam Daily Post.
- Paco, Krystal (May 20, 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 June 8, 2016.
- Losinio, Louella. "Apuron decree bans Catholic group". The Guam Daily Post. Retrieved June 8, 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 June 8, 2016.
- Paco, Krystal. "Third alleged sexual abuse victim comes forward against archbishop". KUAM. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
- Matanane, Sabrina Salas (June 9, 2016). "Walter Denton: case under investigation by Vatican since 2015". KUAM.
- Eugenio, Haidee V (June 10, 2016). "Denton: Vatican was informed about Guam rape in August 2015". Pacific Daily News.
- Eugenio, Haidee V (June 3, 2016). "Archdiocese: Law firm, investigator examine allegations". Pacific Daily News.
- Lamb, Christopher (February 16, 2017). "Burke Pursues Justice Mission 7,000 Miles from Rome". The Tablet. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
- "Rinunce e nomine, 31.10.2016" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. October 31, 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
- "Return of Guam archbishop would be disastrous, says coadjutor". Crux. Catholic News Service. July 9, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the former apostolic administrator of the Agana Archdiocese, requested that, in light of the allegations and investigation, the Vatican remove Apuron and name a successor. When Apuron refused to resign, Pope Francis appointed Byrnes to lead the archdiocese as coadjutor.
- "Apostolic Tribunal of CDF Finds Guam Archbishop Guilty". Zenit. March 16, 2018. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, while continuing to hold the title of Archbishop of Agaña, no longer holds the faculties, rights or obligations pertaining to the Archbishop of Agaña. Without exception these have been granted to the Coadjutor Archbishop of Agaña, Most Reverend Michael J. Byrnes, S.T.D.
- "Comunicato della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, 04.04.2019" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. April 4, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- "Vatican Removes Guam Archbishop After Conviction of Sexual Abuse". New York Times. Reuters. April 4, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- Glatz, Carol (April 4, 2019). "Rejecting appeal, Vatican hands down final ruling against Guam bishop". Crux. Catholic News Service. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- Cite error: The named reference
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|Catholic Church titles|
Felixberto Camacho Flores
| Archbishop of Agana
May 11, 1986 – March 16, 2018
Michael J. Byrnes