Page 7 - Church protests continue in Hagåtña

GRIEVANCES: As they have every Sunday for the past few months, protestors carry signs in front of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica calling for the removal of Archbishop Anthony Apuron, among other grievances against the archdiocese. Apuron has been accused of sexually molesting altar boys in the 1970s. Contributed photo

Despite the press conference held by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana, on Wednesday, July 27, protests have continued outside the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica.

Yesterday, July 31, a group of about 75 people continued their protest against the Catholic Church calling for, among other things, the defrocking of Archbishop Anthony Apuron.

Members of the protests belonged to the Concerned Catholics of Guam (CCOG), the Laity Forward Movement (LFM) and Silent no More – the three major organizations that have been calling on church officials to act on their concerns.

'Rather disingenuous'

Vanjie Lujan, secretary of CCOG, stated that in his address, Hon failed to address their concerns in a “real material way” and said that while she appreciates Hon’s retraction of comments made by Apuron and the archdiocese, he failed to mention the Redemptoris Mater Seminary (RMS). Further, Vanjie said she and others want the church to be more transparent with the use of funds raised through the Archdiocese Annual Appeal.

In response to Hon’s plans to meet in person with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing Apuron of sexually abusing them in the 1970s, Lujan said she found his remarks “rather disingenuous” given that he has only now publicly addressed some of the issues that have been facing the church for months.

In his Wednesday address, Hon said he intends to travel to plaintiffs not residing on island or to arrange for their travel to Guam in order to meet with them personally.

“The transparency is the biggest problem,” said Lujan. “I don’t understand what the advantage is in playing the waiting game.”

In regard to legislative efforts relating to their protests, Lujan stated, “Some of these issues (like Bill 326) are not just about the church but are really about the whole community – especially in how they relate to taking care of our children.”

Public hearing

Last Thursday, July 28, witnesses, legislators and testifiers met for a public hearing to testify on Bill 326, which seeks to remove the statute of limitations for civil claims involving sexually abused children.

A protestor in attendance on Sunday, but who asked to remain anonymous, said, “I don’t like to do this, but we have an obligation to speak up – to say what’s wrong. We’re doing this in a peaceful manner, as much as we can, but what are they waiting for? Are they waiting for violence? We’re at the point where we’re frustrated – we’re mad.”

As the Sunday protests came to a close, protestors gathered to hear the latest plans. Lou Klitzkie, member of LFM, spoke to the group and concluded with, “We need to continue; we can’t stop now.”

At Sunday’s protests were two of the four plaintiffs of the libel and slander lawsuit currently filed against Apuron and the archdiocese: Roy Quintanilla and Roland Sondia. Both said they were cautioned by their lawyers against giving any statements to the media.

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