Protest continues ahead of Byrnes' arrival

By Neil Pang
Guam Daily Post
November 27, 2016

PROTESTS: Catholic faithful protest outside the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica on Sunday, Nov. 27. Approximately 50 people showed up for what has become a regular picket line in front of the Hagåtña cathedral. Photo courtesy of Jose Martinez

With new Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes set to arrive today, protests calling for church transparency and responsibility continued strong yesterday morning with the 50-some people who came out to form the weekly picket line outside the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica.

While demands from Catholic faith-based organizations have been met one by one, the protests have become ever more focused and centralized. Signs adorned with "Return RMS," "Hon - No More $$ for RMS" and "Moratorium on NCW" used to be hallmarks of the weekly protests, but have dwindled of late as the Archdiocese of Agana has taken steps to address concerns.

The latest effort by the church, the rescinding and annulment of the deed restriction placed on the property by Archbishop Anthony Apuron by Byrnes, has restricted the protest's message.

"Simply: Apuron Out," was the theme of yesterday's protest according to Laity Forward Movement spokeswoman Lou Klitzkie.

Despite the facts that Apuron is currently facing a canonical trial in Rome and that Byrnes now has the right of succession following Apuron's removal, Klitzkie told the Post that the protests would continue on to show that Catholic faithful are adamant in their demands.

"Given Apuron's attempt to stay on no matter what and the nature of Vatican politics, we cannot rest until Apuron no longer holds the title of Archbishop of Agana," Klitzkie said.

A new chapter

Hope is high among the faithful that the appointment of the new coadjutor archbishop will usher in a new era for the Archdiocese of Agana – one that will be both financially transparent and responsive to the many allegations of child sexual abuse that have been leveled against clergyman.

Brynes has taken proactive steps in this regard, especially in regards to the property dispute that had played a key role in the recent months of contention a division between traditional Catholics and those who align themselves with the precepts of the Neocatechumenal Way.

Byrnes is scheduled to preside over his first Mass in Guam on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 10:30 a.m. to celebrate his arrival and the beginning of his episcopal ministry. A second Mass will be held that evening at 6 p.m. and will be a joint service with both Byrnes and Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, apostolic administrator for the Archdiocese of Agana.

According to releases from Archdiocesan officials, Byrnes' arrival marks the completion of Hon's task, assigned to him by the pope, and he is expected to return to Rome on Dec. 1.

Church responds to new complaints

As the Catholic Church of Guam continues to be rocked by accusations of decades-old child sexual abuse against Apuron and others within the Archdiocesan hierarchy, the church again responded to the latest complaints filed in the Superior Court of Guam mid-last week.

"Following the latest allegations of sexual abuse by clergy made by Mr. Paul Joseph Borja and Mr. Vicente T. San Nicolas this week, we enjoin our prayers for them and their families," stated a release put out Saturday. "The Archdiocese of Agana pledges to do all it can, under new leadership, to ensure that all people in our care, most especially our young and most vulnerable, thrive in a safe and loving environment fully protected from any harm."

Citing continued developments and improvement to their sexual abuse response protocol, the release stated that their Task Force for the Protection of Minors continues to train staff and faculty at Catholic schools and will extend to parishes around the island.

Additionally, the release reported that a new "Victims Support Group" is working to develop counseling and support services for victims of child sexual abuse who come forward. Victims and persons alleging abuse are encouraged to contact the Sexual Abuse Response Coordinator, Deacon Leonard Stohr" at 727-7373 or



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