Guam Clergy Thanks Pope for Byrnes’ Appointment

By Haidee V Eugenio
Pacific Daily News
November 11, 2016

Monsignor Michael Jude Byrnes

Clergy with the Guam Catholic Church this week sent letters to Pope Francis to thank him for appointing during a “difficult time” a coadjutor archbishop — the Rev. Michael Jude Byrnes, who has rights to succeed the embattled Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron.

Apuron, 71, is facing a canonical trial at the Vatican over multiple allegations of sex abuse of altar boys in Agat during the 1970s.

The Archdiocese of Agana, in a statement Friday afternoon, said priests and deacons joined Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai in a gesture of appreciation and support to the pope and Byrnes. They wrote a letter after meeting last week.

“On behalf of the people of God on Guam, we would like to express to you our sincerest gratitude for sending to us Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes in a difficult time," the clergy wrote to Pope Francis. "We are tracing in trials and tribulations the path Christ trod in His lifetime, where divisions and hurts were widespread."

The clergy wrote a separate letter to Byrnes, thanking him for accepting the pope’s assignment to Guam.

“Placing our trust in your care and concern, we will follow your guidance and pledge to work together for unity and reconciliation,” they wrote.

Byrnes is set to arrive on Guam on Nov. 28. The archdiocese said Byrnes will travel back to Michigan and the Archdiocese of Detroit to close out matters there and then return to Guam in January.

Hon, in a separate statement, has said Byrnes should never be considered an outsider, as some people consider him to be.

“Archbishop Byrnes may not be given, in one instance, ‘infused’ knowledge of every detail of our island but he is generally informed about the current situation of the local Church and is ready, as expressed humbly by himself, to learn more from the people of God on Guam, whether they be clergy, religious, or lay,” Hon said in a Nov. 3 congratulatory message to Byrnes.

Up until his appointment as coadjutor archbishop, Byrnes was auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit. Guam will be Byrnes’ first assignment outside of Detroit, Michigan.

Byrnes’ appointment also comes at a time when Guam’s Catholic church only has a few days to claim legal ownership and control of a $45 million to $70 million property in Yona, currently being used as a seminary. And the archdiocese currently faces several newly filed civil lawsuits, alleging sexual abuse by Guam clergy decades ago. More lawsuits are expected soon, possibly naming more priests, according to the attorney representing the plaintiffs.








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