Pope Taps Detroit Bishop to Lead Guam Archdiocese

By Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press
November 1, 2016

Two local priests were named Tuesday, March 22, 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI to be auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Detroit, which oversees 1.3 million Catholics. Rev. Michael Byrnes, 52, vice rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary and pastor of Presentation/Our Lady of Victory Parish in Detroit since 2004. Picture received March 22, 2011

Pope Francis has named a Detroit bishop, Michael Byrnes, to lead Catholics in the U.S. territory of Guam amid accusations that the previous leader in Guam abused children.

Byrnes, who has been an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit since 2011, will be the Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana in the South Pacific, the Vatican announced Monday.

In June, the Vatican relieved Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron of the Archdiocese of Agana of his pastoral and administrative authority. He now faces a church trial on accusations that he allegedly abused altar boys, a church leader said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Apuron denies the allegations and hasn't been charged criminally.

> Related: 4 former altar boys sue Guam priests they say sexually abused them

“I am humbled by the Holy Father’s decision to entrust the Archdiocese of Agana to my pastoral care,” Byrnes said in a statement released by the Archdiocese of Detroit, which oversees 1.3 million Catholics in southeastern Michigan. “The great spiritual writer, blessed Columba Marmion, wrote, ‘The task of the priest is to give Jesus to the world.’ That is what I have endeavored to do as an auxiliary bishop here in Detroit, and I look forward to giving Jesus to the thousands of people who live in the island of Guam."

Byrnes added that "I have learned that the Catholic faith has long been embraced on the island, and the faith of the people is rooted in a rich history of devotion to Jesus and to His blessed mother. At the same time, there are always challenges to face. With my brother priests and deacons, with the catechists and other pastoral workers, and above all, with the spiritual gifts of the people of God, I trust we will persevere in faith, hope and love, and will exercise the ‘wisdom from above’ (James 3:17) to meet these challenges."

In a news release, the Archdiocese of Detroit said that "Guam is an island of 210 square miles situated north of Australia, south of Japan and east of the Philippines. Approximately 80% of the territory’s 165,000 inhabitants are Catholic."

“Archbishop Byrnes has given exemplary pastoral service in the Archdiocese of Detroit, most recently in leading us to prepare for Synod '16 as part of our efforts to unleash the Gospel,” said Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron. “Now God has chosen him for a challenging mission almost a half-a-world away. Pope Francis, in sending Archbishop Byrnes to Guam, has recognized that he possesses not only the talents, but above all, the deep faith in Jesus Christ that make him suitable for this apostolic work. He goes with our love and our prayers.”

Byrnes will stay in Detroit until late November to help lead the Archdiocese of Detroit’s first Synod since 1969.

Contact Niraj Warikoo: or 313-223-4792. Follow him on Twitter @nwarikoo. The Associated Press contributed to this report.








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