Canonist Says Guam Church Has More Options with Sanctioned Priest
By Krystal Paco
June 22, 2018
He's not your typical man on the run...he's a priest. Father Adrian Cristobal was given a deadline to report back to Guam last Friday in light of clergy sexual abuse allegations against him. Though he's been sanctioned by the Archdiocese of Agana and forbidden from acting as a priest in public, is this a strong enough message?
Apparently he's in no hurry home. "It's no different from any criminal mind. People don't generally want to face the music for the crimes they have committed," said advocate, former priest, and canonist Patrick J. Wall, referring to Father Cristobal. Wall is no stranger to the scenario, having been part of investigations involving priests who abandoned their posts, some as a result of clergy sexual abuse allegations.
"We had a abbot in England who was actually charged with child sexual abuse and he just failed to report to his hearing. And so he was on the run for almost six years. INTERPOL finally found him in Kosovo," he explained. And so then he was just recently convicted this past year for child sexual abuse., so it does happen."
Since April, Father Adrian has been named in three clergy sexual abuse lawsuits in the District Court of Guam. The former Barrigada altar boys are only identified by their initials to protect their privacy. L.J.C., J.C.C., and J.E. all allege they were sexually molested by the priest in the 1990s. J.C.C., however, alleges the abuse spanned over a 15-year period - and only came to an end in 2013.
In response to these allegations, the Archdiocese of Agana ordered Father Adrian return home. His deadline was last Friday - but he was a no-show.
That prompted Archbishop Michael Byrnes to impose sanctions on Father Adrian to include no wearing of the clerical garb, no celebrating mass, and no hearing confession. "Probably the most realistic way is to just stop paying him," he said. "Because most people don't have a lot of money - if Father Adrian can't access his monthly stipend from the Archdiocese, then he probably is going to be forced to make some decisions."
If that doesn't work, Wall said, "If the Archbishop wants to, he can reach out to the Papal Nuncio in Washington, DC to communicate to his brother bishops in the United States. He can ask the Papal Nuncio to reach out to the Holy See to ask Pope Francis then to reach out to the other 3,000-plus dioceses around the world to communicate to Father Adrian to come home."
Wall says a look at Father Adrian's records could also help Church officials find him. "The code requires that every priest has a personnel record, a secret archive file and a historical file," he said.
"I would think that the Archbishop would share that with his advisors and with local law enforcement and this could be resolved fairly quickly," he said. The Concerned Catholics of Guam suspect the priest is hiding in the east-coast, near the Neocatechumenal Way headquarters.
All we know - Father Adrian's last known location was the Diocese of Phoenix where he was reportedly studying canon law.
When asked if those harboring Father Adrian could be sanctioned, Wall could only say this: "That's really up to Archbishop Byrnes how far he wants to go with it. I'm sure he would want to go about it in the softest way possible. His job is to maintain peace and he needs to not only enforce the law of the church but also has to be concerned about the salvation of souls. There might be a lot of other circumstances around why father Adrian is on the run."
According to the Umatuna Si Yu'os, the Church's official newspaper, Father Adrian was ordained a priest by Archbishop Anthony Apuron in September 1989.