Concerned Catholics of Guam is urging Pope Francis to uphold the entire sentence imposed by a tribunal that found Archbishop Anthony Apuron guilty of "certain" accusations lodged against him.
The Vatican has not revealed which accusations Apuron was found guilty of, and the sentence – banishment from Guam and stripping Apuron of his archbishop title – was suspended pending the final resolution of his appeal.
In August 2018, the pope told international media he would personally handle Apuron's appeal. Post files indicate Pope Francis stated that Apuron's appeal is complicated but not difficult because "the evidence is clear."
The Vatican panel that handles appeals from clergy accused of sexual misconduct is made up of eight bishops and cardinals, and operates within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
CCOG President David Sablan believes the panel has come out with its recommendation affirming the banishment of Apuron from Guam but making no mention of stripping Apuron of his title, citing an online article that references Apuron's appeal and a recommendation that Apuron only be exiled.
"His (Apuron's) presence on Guam will cause scandal among the faithful. He has done so much damage to the trust of the people," Sablan stated. "He is a persona non grata on Guam."
Allegations of sexual abuse
Apuron, who had led the Archdiocese of Agana since 1986, broke his silence in January 2018, after having left the island in 2016 following accusations from four former altar boys who accused Apuron of sexually assaulting them when he was a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat.
Several more victims came forward last year alleging Apuron sexually abused them at his residence at the chancery.
An article published in The Wall Street Journal on Dec. 21, 2018, references the pope's promise of a policy of zero tolerance against sex abuse and cited concerns that multiple decisions of the appeal panel undermine the pope's message. The panel had reinstated clerics expelled from the priesthood by other church authorities, the report stated.
While the Vatican hasn't issued any public statement on Apuron's appeal, Sablan is pleading to Pope Francis to uphold the entire sentence imposed by the Tribunal and strip Apuron of his title "relegating him to being a simple bishop living out his life somewhere else."
Apuron's attorney, Jacqueline Taitano Terlaje, said her client had not been informed of the outcome of his appeal.