OUR VIEW: Community welcomes Byrnes' arrival, looks to heal

Pacific Daily News
November 27, 2016

Archbishop Michael Byrnes

We welcome Archbishop Michael Byrnes as the new leader of the Catholic faithful on the island, and we hope that he can heal our fractured community and help us move forward.

Byrnes comes to us in a time of distress. Officially, he has been assigned here to assist Archbishop Anthony Apuron in running the Archdiocese of Agana, and to serve as Apuron’s successor. Apuron has made few public statements since being suspended in June. He may yet return as the leader of the church.

The community has been split by many controversies over the last few years. The most significant involve allegations that Apuron sexually abused altar boys while serving as the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat in the 1970s. Several former altar boys have stepped forward to share their stories. A canonical trial is being prepared in Rome, and there are civil lawsuits in the local court.

Then there is the matter of Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Yona.

The archdiocese purchased the former Accion hotel for $1.9 million, and an anonymous donor — later identified as the Carmelite sisters — stepped forward to pay off the loan, providing ownership free and clear. Years later, a request was made to transfer the property from the archdiocese to the seminary. When the archdiocese finance council opposed the transfer, Apuron dissolved the council. According to a report earlier this year, the seminary did not prepare priests for work in local parishes.

Byrnes has already used his authority to return the seminary property to the archdiocese, and he has cut ties between the seminary and the Neocatechumenal Way.

But more healing is needed.

Our community has endured conflict. It is time to heal. Welcome Archbishop Byrnes.


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