Apuron Must Follow His Own Policy

By Steve Martinez
Pacific Daily News
May 21, 2015

Regarding the letter from Joaquin "Danny" Santos of Piti in the May 5 Voice of the People, it is unfortunate that he views sex abuse prevention as an adversarial issue. Shouldn't we all demand our leaders to make every effort possible to protect our children?

Both the Church and the civil authorities require clergy file a report whenever they believe a case of sexual abuse has taken place. That is what I did in my first letter to Archbishop Apuron and CPS. A failure to do so would have been a failure to protect the children of our island. Danny's condemnation of my actions is quite shocking to concerned parents.

Unfortunately, Santos has no alternative suggestion on what should have been done. There are important, unanswered questions regarding the allegations against Father Camacho. These answers could either exonerate him, or provide a basis for Church sanctions. Sadly, Santos chooses to attack the messenger rather than confront the real issues.

Santos points out that a canonical investigation has been started. It has been seven weeks since the incident occurred and we have heard nothing from the archdiocese on the status of their investigation. We know that the archdiocese is required to promptly investigate, and that, per Deacon Claros (sex abuse response coordinator, or SARC), Monsignor David has been appointed by Archbishop Apuron to conduct this investigation.

In prudence, most dioceses appoint professional investigators. To appoint a vicar general is highly unusual since he cannot oppose a bishop's decision, but especially since Monsignor David has no training in this specialized field. We await the results of this "investigation."

I also wrote a second letter to Archbishop Apuron, the Apostolic Nuncio and the SARC. In that letter, I addressed my grave concern for the continuing violations to our policy. These issues were raised to Archbishop Apuron in July 2014, without response. The sex abuse policy was designed to protect our children, and all people should be outraged when bishops fail to follow these policies. Families cannot allow these violations to put our children at risk.

Important protections include thorough background checks and professional psychological evaluations of all candidates before their ordination. These key protections have been ignored by Archbishop Apuron, and in my previous capacity as SARC I tried everything possible to have these violations corrected. It is exactly what a SARC is supposed to do, and I pray the current SARC is trying his best to get Archbishop Apuron to observe his own policy.

These are dangerous breaches, as the incident in Agat suggests. While Santos and his catechist may find my actions to protect our youth "nauseating and detestable," I pray other members of our community agree that the safety of our children is paramount.

Regardless of the criminal case against Father Camacho, Archbishop Apuron has an obligation to review archdiocesan policy in this specific matter. If the allegations are confirmed, then Father Camacho has clearly violated the archdiocese's sex abuse policy. While criminal law has provisions for minors and age of consent, our policy is clear that any sexual contact with a child is sex abuse. A child is any person under 18 years of age, with no exceptions.








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