Father Adrian Cristobal stripped of some priestly duties, may be in New York
By Haidee V Eugenio
Pacific Daily News
May 9, 2018
|In this 2014 photo, Father Adrian Cristobal gives an opening prayer at All Souls' Day Mass at Guam Memorial Park in Barrigada. He was reassigned to the Umatac church.|
The Diocese of Phoenix in Arizona and the Archdiocese of Agana on Guam stripped some of the priestly faculties of former chancellor Adrian Cristobal. He's now prohibited from celebrating Mass publicly and hearing confession while child sex abuse allegations against him are being investigated.
Cristobal also faces penalties and sanctions for failing to follow repeated directives for him to immediately return to Guam in connection with allegations he sexually abused children, the archdiocese said.
The archdiocese on Wednesday said it believes Cristobal is in the vicinity of New York.
It also has notified the bishops at sites where Cristobal had received permission to be previously of the allegations against Cristobal, including the Diocese of Phoenix and Ottawa, Canada, where Cristobal was enrolled at St. Paul University to study canon law at one time.
"We are also communicating to bishops of New York and Newark areas," according to Tony Diaz, communications director for the Archdiocese of Agana.
Cristobal been accused by two men of sexually abusing and/or raping them for years, based on lawsuits filed on April 10 and May 7.
Cristobal has been on a mission to the Diocese of Phoenix since December 2017. But upon learning of the first lawsuit filed against him on April 10, the diocese there removed his priestly faculties — his ability to perform church sacraments — on April 11.
He is still off-island
The Diocese of Phoenix, in a statement, said Cristobal had returned to Guam at the request of the Archdiocese of Agana. But the Archdiocese of Agana on Wednesday said, to the best of its knowledge, Cristobal "is still off-island."
"Permission for him to be in mission at the Diocese of Phoenix was rescinded April 11 and the archdiocese has sent repeated directives to him to return home immediately," according to a statement from the archdiocese sent by Diaz.
Diaz said Cristobal has been in contact with the archdiocese via e-mail "but thus far has not complied."
"Any clergy member who continues disobedience after a warning is subject to penalties or sanctions per Canon 1371, Section 2 CIC," Diaz said.
Cristobal hadn't returned a call or replied to an email question as of press time.
Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes limited Cristobal's faculties as a priest as part of precautionary measures related to the first allegation, effective April 11.
"He cannot celebrate Mass publicly or hear confession while the case is being reviewed," Diaz said.
The Diocese of Phoenix said Cristobal lived in Phoenix from December 2017 to April 2018, and "returned to Guam after being accused in a lawsuit of sexual abuse of a minor in the mid-1990s."
The diocese said it removed Cristobal's faculties on April 11, immediately upon learning of the lawsuit and allegation.
"There were no allegations against Fr. Cristobal prior to his arrival in Phoenix, and we had received a letter of good standing on his behalf from the Archbishop of Agaña," the Diocese of Phoenix said. "He did not have an assignment while residing in Phoenix, and we have not received reports of incidents or accusations during this time."
The archdiocese did a preliminary investigation regarding the first allegation against Cristobal and the findings were forwarded to the independent review board in accordance with strengthened sexual abuse policy, Diaz said.
Diaz said the board itself is not involved in conducting investigations but serves as a confidential, consultative body.
"Its duty is to objectively review the findings of the investigation and advise the archbishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors," Diaz said.
The same process will be applied in the second allegation against Cristobal, who studied canon law in Ottawa, Canada.
Prayers for victims
The Archdiocese of Agana, in a statement, said it extends prayers for J.C.C. and L.J.C. and all persons who have come forward recently and in the past with allegations of sexual abuse by Guam Catholic clergy members or lay persons.
There have been nearly 170 child sex abuse lawsuits filed in local and federal court against the Archdiocese of Agana, priests, other clergy, religious groups and others associated with the Catholic Church.
The archdiocese said it takes all allegations of sexual abuse very seriously.
"Under Archbishop Byrnes, the archdiocese has revamped and strengthened its sexual abuse and sexual misconduct policy. Now aligned with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ stringent Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, our new policy includes mandatory on-line training of all clergy, employees and volunteers on the protection of all children entrusted to our care," the statement said.
Persons who work directly with or supervise youths are also required to undergo a background check, the archdiocese said.