A new organization purporting to support Archbishop Anthony Apuron has been established and is making itself known.
The group, "I Familan Mangatoliku Siha Pari Si Apuron," or "Catholic Families for Apuron," was formed by Catholics who support Apuron and maintain his innocence until otherwise determined by a court of law.
Dr. Ricardo Eusebio, president of the new organization, authored a letter to Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana.
In the letter, Eusebio laments Hon's actions and statements regarding Apuron.
"You treat him as if he has already been declared guilty; therefore, stirring a public lynching," Eusebio wrote.
He attributes much of the division and confusion in which the church currently finds itself mired to statements released by the archdiocese on behalf of Hon.
"There is an injustice," Eusebio told the Post. "Even a common criminal who is charged with committing a crime is innocent until proven guilty."
Eusebio also took issue with Hon's inaction concerning Bill 326, which is awaiting the governor's signature or veto.
The bill, which was unanimously passed by the Guam Legislature, would remove the statute of limitations on civil cases involving accusations of child sex abuse.
The wording of Bill 326 is such that institutions as well as individuals may be viable candidates for child sex abuse litigation. As such, Hon and other church officials have stated that one of the unintended consequences of the bill will be the probable bankruptcy of the archdiocese due to the "unlimited financial liability" the church will be open to if cases from decades ago are litigated.
Criticism of Hon
Eusebio, in his letter, said Hon did not do enough to address this contingency while the bill was still being amended in its early stages.
The bill underwent numerous periods of consideration for written and oral testimony during which only one individual, Zolton Szekely, submitted testimony in opposition to the bill.
According to testimony submitted during public hearings, Szekely said the bill in its current form would result in a law that unfairly targeted a particular group of people.
"If this bill is signed into law, there won't be any limitation to the damages that can be inflicted on Guam and its people," Szekely said in a social media post. "Make no mistake, the scope of this bill is not restricted to the Catholic Church!"
Eusebio further alleged that Hon, beyond failing to offer testimony in opposition to the bill during public hearings, actually encouraged senators to act on their emotions and vote in favor of the bill.
In his letter, Eusebio states the bill violates three principles of law. Namely, that the bill does not apply equally to both private and public institutions, that its retroactivity violates the 14th Amendment, and that it lacks fairness in considering accusations that are decades old.
Eusebio stated that while he and his peers wholeheartedly condemn child sex abuse as heinous, they believe the bill would not provide justice for such victims.
Eusebio criticized Hon for failing to grant the same decency to Apuron that is granted to common criminals.
"We believe that your ideological hatred for the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, the theological institute and the Neocatechumenal Way – proved by many of your actions – have clouded your ability to see the damage you are bringing upon our archdiocese," Eusebio said in his letter.
Group 'currently recruiting members'
Esuebio told the Post that his organization aims to provide an opportunity for individuals and families who support the work of Apuron – and who believe in his innocence until proven otherwise – to advocate truth and justice.
"We are currently recruiting members," he said. "As a doctor, I have felt the pain of many people who have expressed their frustration."
In order to accomplish its mission, Eusebio said his organization would be open to participating in an impartial forum where they could have the opportunity to speak about their support of Apuron.
"Many people believe that Apuron is innocent," he said.
While the Catholic Church on Guam continues to be wrought by turmoil and division among the faithful, Eusebio said unity is at the core of his organization's intentions.