Bishop Anthony Apuron, Guam’s former archbishop convicted by a Vatican tribunal in connection with sexual abuse of minors, will no longer receive a $1,500 monthly allowance from the Archdiocese of Agana, the archdiocese announced Tuesday.
Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes's decision will become effective July 1, according to the archdiocese.
"The monthly honorarium has been, to say the least, very difficult for the victim-survivors of sexual abuse to comprehend,” Father Ron Richards, episcopal vicar of the Archdiocese of Agana, said in a letter to Apuron last week.
Nearly 300 clergy sex abuse claims have been filed against the archdiocese, Catholic priests and others associated with the Catholic Church on Guam since 2016.
"The victim-survivors see this honorarium, to a credibly accused violator of delicts against the Sixth Commandment, as contrary to justice and a continuation of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the clergy," Richards wrote.
The Vatican’s Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found Apuron guilty of sexual abuse of minors in 2018.
Apuron had appealed the initial finding in 2018 but the Vatican announced on April 4, 2019 that the tribunal had “upheld the sentence of First Instance finding the Archbishop guilty of delicts against the Sixth Commandment with minors.”
Among Apuron's accusers are former Agat altar boys and his own nephew.
Even with the removal of Apuron from office, the archdiocese has still remitted a monthly honorarium of $1,500 to Apuron, even during this time of bankruptcy.
But that's changing. Byrnes, according to Richards, has heard from more of the victim survivors.
"Recognizing the pain these survivors have experienced from the sexual abuse in the past, he sees the continuation of remitting this honorarium as a further deepening of the wounds they are trying to heal from," Richards said.
'Dark chapter closed'
David Sablan, president of Concerned Catholics of Guam, on Tuesday said he's "glad this dark chapter in our Church's history on Guam is closed."
"We don't have to worry about supporting him in any way whatsoever henceforth. I hope the victims of his abuse can now find solace that he no longer is connected to our church on Guam and our archdiocese. I hope Apuron reconciles now with our God for all the evil he has done and allowed to happen on our island," Sablan told The Guam Daily Post.
The pope appointed Byrnes in 2016, after former altar boys came forward alleging sexual abuses by Apuron.
When Apuron lost his appeal in 2019, Byrnes went from coadjutor archbishop to archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana.
Byrnes remains on extended leave off island after having undergone hip surgery earlier this month.
The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2019, under the weight of clergy sex abuse claims totaling more than $1 billion. The archdiocese is still trying to settle the claims.