Guam church vows to curb sex abuse

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Marianas Variety
November 28, 2016

HAGÅTÑA — Amid mounting lawsuits filed by former altar boys against the clergy, the Archdiocese of Agana vows to prevent the recurrence of sex abuse by men of the cloth under its new leadership.

At the same time, the archdiocese urged all victims of clergy sexual abuse to seek counseling from a church-organized newly formed support group.

“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,” the archdiocese said in a statement issued Sunday.

As of last week, a total of nine civil actions alleging sex abuse against minors have been filed in the Guam Superior Court against former Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Father Louis Brouillard, who served on Guam beginning in the 1950s having confessed last October to abusing altar boys on Guam decades ago.

The lawsuit filings were prompted by the recent enactment of laws that lifted the statute of limitations for all sexual-abuse crimes.

New lawsuits were filed on Friday as the Archdiocese prepares to welcome newly appointed Archbishop Michael Byrnes, who is expected to arrive on Guam today. His arrival, according to the archdiocese will open “a new chapter in its history.” Byrnes will be welcomed with two islandwide celebrations on Wednesday.

“The Archdiocese of Agana cares deeply about the protection of minors and all people entrusted to its care. We extend prayers to all victims of clergy sexual abuse,” the archdiocese said in a statement, following the latest court filings made by former altar boys Paul Joseph Borja and Vicente T. San Nicolas this week.

The archdiocese said it takes the matter of sexual abuse by clergy “very seriously.”

In September, the church formed a Task Force for the Protection of Minors, whose members have since been visiting Catholic schools and conducting training of staff and faculty about the prevention of sexual abuse, safe boundaries and mandatory reporting requirements.

“The training will extend to our Catholic parishes,” the archdiocese said.

The archdiocese urged those who have knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy to contact Deacon Leonard Stohr, the sexual abuse response coordinator.

The Victims Support Group is developing more comprehensive outreach, support and counseling help for all victims who come forward, the church said.


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