The Vatican’s newly appointed apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, addressed the island’s Catholic community and clergy at St. Anthony Church in Tamuning for the first time yesterday, saying that “he will not work alone” in his duties, hinting that a team will help him accomplish his ministry on Guam.
Hon also called on those who were there to “contribute something for the unity of the island.”
Hon was named apostolic administrator sede plena for the Archdiocese of Agana by the Vatican on Monday following an announcement that Pope Francis had relieved Archbishop Anthony Apuron of his duties and appointed an interim administrator for the archdiocese.
During his address yesterday, Hon said “Apuron will still bear the title as the archbishop of Agana but from this appointment on, he will not take on any decision about the archdiocese.”
He added that Apuron should also cooperate in the fulfillment of the apostolic administrator’s mandate.
Hon stressed that he has instructions from Vatican to guide the archdiocese. He said Pope Francis, in his concern for the good of the whole church and with due consideration for the good of the faithful in Guam, has temporarily entrusted him with the administration of the Archdiocese of Agana.
“The primary concern of the administrator is to restore unity, harmony and stability,” he said.
Upon arrival on Guam yesterday, Hon announced in a release his priorities as he temporarily takes over administration of the Archdiocese of Agana.
This includes taking stock of the present pastoral situation of the diocese and to identify the difficulties present among the clergy, religious and lay faithful.
Hon also said he will take “urgent” measures, at the earliest time, to promote and restore unity and harmony in the local Catholic Church.
“The apostolic administrator, after carefully discerning the needs of the archdiocese will take all necessary decisions to assure that this goal is being implemented,” he said.
Archbishop Martin Krebs read the decree appointing Hon as apostolic administrator, which states that the role gives him the duties of the administration and pastoral government of the archdiocese “without any exemption.”
Rev. Tadeusz Jan Nowak was named in the release as assisting Hon in his duties.
One of those who attended the Mass was John Toves, who last year accused Apuron of molesting his cousin in the 1980s when they were still seminarians.
“I do trust that there will be proper address of those issues," Toves said.
With the more recent accusations, Toves said he was not surprised. “I am certain there are others. I hope that these people come forward to have their opportunity to heal,” he said.
Toves said the immediate tasks should be to address the core issues, which include the reinstatement of Rev. Paul Gofigan and Monsignor James Benavente to their former positions and for Apuron to resign and apologize to the families.
“At least there is comfort in knowing that these people will have a chance to heal,” Toves said.