Archdiocese alerts Vatican

By Mindy Aguon
Guam Daily Post
January 10, 2018

ABUSE ALLEGATIONS: Mark Mafnas Apuron speaks with The Guam Daily Post at the office of his attorney, David Lujan, on Tuesday. Mark Apuron claims to have been sexually abused as a teen by his uncle, then-Archbishop Anthony Apuron.
Photo by Norman M. Taruc

TRIBUNAL: Members of a Vatican tribunal arrive at the Archdiocese of Agana Chancery in February 2017.
Photo by Neil Pang

Archbishop Michael Byrnes is pictured at this press conference at the St. John Paul the Greater Center at the Chancery on San Ramon Hill April 3, 2017.
Photo by David Castro

The Vatican has been alerted about the newest allegation of abuse against Guam's suspended archbishop, according to the Archdiocese of Agana.

Mark Mafnas Apuron, in an exclusive interview with The Guam Daily Post, accused his uncle, Anthony Apuron, of sexually abusing him in 1990 while at an event at the Archdiocese of Agana Chancery Office.

Mark Apuron said he was 16 when the alleged abuse occurred in his "Uncle Tony's" bathroom at the chancery. He alleges he was raped by his uncle and the incident left him estranged from his immediate family members and feeling ashamed and petrified.

"I believed he was the powerful, untouchable uncle," Mark Apuron said.

Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes acknowledged the allegation of sexual abuse and confirmed he alerted Vatican officials about the newest case.

"All allegations of sexual abuse brought to the attention of our archdiocese are important because of the grave, irreversible harm all victims of abuse suffer at the hands of persons they once trusted," Byrnes said.

Mark Apuron, through his attorney, David Lujan, filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Guam yesterday against the Archdiocese of Agana and Anthony Apuron.

He tells The Guam Daily Post that his faith in God remains strong.

"It's not the church that did this to me. It has nothing to do with the church. It has nothing to do with God," Mark Apuron said. "What was done to me was done by my uncle solely."

CCOG: 'He believed he was invincible'

David Sablan, president of the Concerned Catholics of Guam, said the latest allegation takes on a different level compared to past allegations, because it is from a relative and because the alleged abuse occurred when Anthony Apuron was already archbishop.

"It really shows there is a pattern of his alleged sexual abuse ... and I believe because of the fact he was our archbishop, he believed he was invincible because of the respect and authority he received," Sablan said. "That invincibility made him even bolder."

Sablan called on the Vatican leadership to release the outcome of the Vatican tribunal on the suspended archbishop and suggested that Anthony Apuron be stripped of his title as archbishop to "heal the rift in the local Catholic community" that he said is divided between traditional Catholics and those who follow the Apuron-affiliated Neocatechumenal Way.

Removing Apuron's title would also pave the way for a full accounting of the decades-long donations to the nonprofit Kåmalen Karidåt, which may have been used as a personal slush fund for Anthony Apuron, Sablan said.

Vatican tribunal

Byrnes said he continues to await the results of the Vatican tribunal that determined a verdict in Anthony Apuron's case late last year. The decision remains undisclosed.

The tribunal notary, Rev. Justin Wachs, resigned from his post at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith late last year amid allegations of sexual harassment in his home parish in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Last September, Cardinal Raymond Burke was reappointed to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church, according to The Catholic Herald.

Wachs, Burke and Rev. James Conn came to Guam in February last year as part of the canonical trial for suspended Archbishop Apuron, who faces penal charges in connection with allegations that he sexually abused altar boys when he was a priest decades ago.

The Post reached out to Conn several days ago for comment on the status of Anthony Apuron's case but did not receive a response.

It is unclear if the recent allegation against the suspended archbishop will impact the canonical trial or the decision that was rendered last year.

Byrnes said any subsequent information regarding Mark Apuron's case will be "forwarded expeditiously to Rome" in adherence with the archdiocese's new, strengthened sexual abuse policy.

"We are committed to protecting all children and young people entrusted to our care and to not repeat the serious failings of the past," he said.


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