A prelate accused of abuse should not be allowed to return to head his diocese regardless of the outcome of his Vatican trial, the bishop currently running the diocese has said.
Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes of Agana in the US territory of Guam has said it would be “a disaster” if Archbishop Anthony Apuron were to return to the diocese because of the extent of the loss of trust among the faithful and the “widespread disarray” in the Church on the western Pacific island.
Three men have publicly accused the archbishop of sexually abusing them when they were altar boys in the 1970s, with the mother of a fourth man, now deceased, also accusing the archbishop of abusing her son. A Vatican team led by Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is a leading canon lawyer and former head of the Vatican’s highest court, was sent to Guam in February to investigate the allegations.
Coadjutor Archbishop Byrnes, a former auxiliary bishop of Detroit, told press the trial is in its final phases, with Vatican judges due to consider evidence, publish accusations, and decide on verdicts of guilty, not guilty and not proven. He said the decision could be published by late summer, but that the archbishop should not be reinstated.
“I think and I’m convinced, actually, that this archdiocese would be unable to achieve peace, really, until it’s clear that Archbishop Apuron is no longer the bishop of record of this diocese,” he said, stressing this was based on what he had witnessed in the diocese and how “there’s been a tremendous loss of trust that’s really hard to win back”.