Picketers: Vatican has evidence, defrock Apuron
By Haidee V Eugenio
Pacific Daily News
June 4, 2017
|Young protesters Nani Aquino, 12, and Kaipo Aquino, 7, at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica in Hagåtña on June 4, 2017.|
Photo by Frank San Nicolas
The Vatican has all the evidence to defrock Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, according to Catholics who continued their weekly picket on Sunday, nearly a year since Pope Francis suspended Apuron on June 6, 2016 over multiple allegations of rape and sex abuse of minors.
“Now that all evidence is in Rome, we want to see Apuron defrocked so that we can have healing in the church and healing also for victims of Apuron and other priests,” Laity Forward Movement President Lou Klitzkie said as she held a sign in front of Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna that read, “Apuron Out.”
The Archdiocese of Agana is not only dealing with Apuron’s canonical trial, but is also a defendant in 74 clergy sex abuse lawsuits and three other childhood sexual abuse complaints filed thus far in local and federal courts.
After recently meeting with Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes, Concepcion said she believes him to be a “gift” to Guam. She said she’s glad Byrnes acknowledges that abuses by priests happened on Guam, and the church has been doing all it can to address those, including creating Hope and Healing.
Former altar boys who testified before the Vatican tribunal said the tribunal told them they hope to complete the trial as soon as early summer which, according to picketers on Sunday, falls in June.
David Sablan, Concerned Catholics of Guam president, said the group hopes the pope and the Vatican, as the center of moral authority for the Catholic Church, will not allow Apuron to remain an archbishop or continue being a priest.
“Apuron cannot continue as a leader of our church on Guam because his administration was so corrupt and was a safe harbor for pedophile priests. He has lost all trust and confidence of the Catholics on Guam,” Sablan said. “He cannot return to his position as our archbishop, and he cannot serve as a priest, since no one will follow him or attend his masses. He caused so much harm and scandal on Guam, he has to be removed from anything related to the church on Guam.”
Sablan said Concerned Catholics remains hopeful that the Vatican will do the right thing.
“We must be patient as we methodically clean up our church of pedophile priests, so we can begin the healing process and restore trust and confidence in our new Archbishop and the good priests of our Archdiocese. We will not ever give up on our church and faith in God,” he added.
Apuron left Guam in late May 2016 and the last time he addressed the Catholics on Guam was via a video message purportedly taken at the Vatican in early June 2016.
Dee Peredo, of the Laity Forward Movement, said she hopes Apuron admits and ask for forgiveness for what he did to former altar boys.
“I’m still marching for the Apuron part. I don’t know what’s going on in the Neocatechumenal Way but the Apuron part, I wish he get out fast and quick and for us not to put indentation on the sidewalk because we’ve been walking and walking and walking,” Peredo said. “Please, do something. This is just a few of the Guamanians that are displeased with you. Apuron, stand up, and do something because if you’re doing it in secret, in hiding, the Lord knows what is going on.”Mae Ada, 74, said she was the person who called in a radio station program one day in January 2015 to talk about a distant relative who was allegedly raped by Apuron.
That man, later identified as Walter Denton, publicly accused Apuron in June 2016, just when the Vatican sent Rome-based Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai to temporarily administer the Catholic Church on Guam.
Ada said when former Agat altar boys came out, all they wanted was for Apuron to acknowledge what he did to them.
“But Apuron ran away. To me it’s a sure sign he’s guilty. I want the world to know,” she said. “Priests and bishops do not have the right to destroy children the way they did.”
Cynthia Terlaje, 45, has been bringing the family with her to the weekly picket since June 2016 because she said Apuron needs to be removed as leader of the Catholic church on Guam, among other things.
One of the four children she brought with her on Sunday is her 7-year-old son Kaipo Aquino, who patiently walked with her and held a “Defrock Apuron” sign. Also with Terlaje were her three other children, her husband, and her 83-year-old mother.
“Before we come here, we attend the 7 a.m. mass in Asan,” Terlaje said, adding that she believes in the adage, “The family that prays together, stays together.”