Archbishop Anthony Apuron yesterday issued a press release expressing his “great joy" in welcoming the news of the appointment of Bishop Michael Byrnes as coadjutor archbishop of Agana. The one-page release was distributed by attorney Jacqueline Terlaje. It was written on Archdiocese of Agana letterhead and was dated Nov. 2.
Apuron wrote that Byrnes’ appointment was “a most welcome answer to my requests for help in the governance of the island at this time.”
Remains 'on retreat'
He stated that he has remained “on retreat while working with the authorities in the Vatican to establish my innocence.” Apuron is accused of sexually molesting four altar boys when he was a parish priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Agat in the 1970s. A civil suit related to those allegations was filed in the Superior Court of Guam on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Apuron expressed gratitude to Byrnes, who had been an auxiliary bishop of Detroit, for accepting the assignment. He also encouraged members of the local archdiocese to extend their hospitality to Byrnes.
“I commend him to the hearts and prayers of all the people of Guam, whom I know will give him the warmest of welcomes,” Apuron wrote.
In June, Apuron was relieved of his duties in the Guam archdiocese with the appointment by Pope Francis of Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese. He has been off-island, presumably in Rome, since then. Byrnes' appointment by the pope to the position of coadjutor archbishop of Agana was announced Monday night.