Archdiocese disputes court ruling

Pacific Daily News [Hagåtña, Guam]

July 17, 2021

By Joe Taitano II

The Archdiocese of Agaña on Saturday said Catholic parishes and schools are held in trust by the archdiocese.

It issued a statement in response to District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood’s Friday ruling that local parishes and schools are part of, and are unincorporated divisions of, the archdiocese.

“The Archdiocese of Agaña maintains, through Archbishop Michael Byrnes, that the parishes and schools are held only in trust by the archdiocese, and in particular by the archbishop in office at any particular time,” the archdiocese stated.

The archdiocese sought bankruptcy protection in January 2019 after a deluge of clergy sex abuse claims and hired Elsaesser Anderson Chtd. as its bankruptcy counsel.

The District Court’s ruling prevents Guam’s 33 Catholic parishes and schools from protecting assets likely to be sold to cover clergy sex abuse claims against the Archdiocese.

“While this decision has been argued and is pending, the archdiocese has continued to engage in mediation with the survivors’ committee with the hopes that a consensual resolution of bankruptcy could be achieved while this matter remains before the court,” the Archdiocese stated. 

According to court documents, the ruling was due to the limited nature of the official committee of unsecured creditor’s motion for partial summary judgment.

A total of 259 clergy sex abuse claims were filed against the archdiocese, dating back to the 1950s.

The Archdiocese of Agaña was committed to providing the greatest measure of justice for survivors of clergy abuse, the statement read.