The island's Catholic church has issued a new statement, encouraging anyone who knows about sexual abuse by clergy or others in the Archdiocese of Agana “today or in the past” to contact the church’s sexual abuse response coordinator.
The call comes shortly after Gov. Eddie Calvo signed into law a bill that would allow victims of child sex abuse to sue their abusers and the institutions with which they are associated, at any time.
Public Law 33-187
makes the Catholic church on Guam open to lawsuits by those who, in
recent months, have publicly accused priests, including Archbishop
Anthony S. Apuron, of raping or molesting them.
The Vatican placed
Apuron on temporary leave over sex abuse allegations, but he has not
been charged with any crime.
“Do you know of sexual abuse within our Church?” the Archdiocese of Agana’s statement reads.
The statement says the Archdiocese of Agana cares deeply about the protection of minors and all people entrusted to its care.
abuse is a matter of the gravest concern, as Our Lord calls us to
protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us – our children. We
take the protection of children very seriously,” it adds.
Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai,
the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana, has appointed
Deacon Leonard Stohr to be the sexual abuse response coordinator for the
church on Guam.
The archdiocese encourages anyone who
has knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or others in the archdiocese,
today or in the past, to contact Deacon Leonard Stohr at hotline number:
727-7373 or via email at email@example.com.
pledges to correct the wrongs and mistakes of the past. We are
strengthening our sexual abuse and sexual misconduct policy so that all
people – most especially our young and most vulnerable – may be
confident of being in a safe environment fully protected from any harm,”
the statement adds.
earlier announced the archdiocese is developing a dedicated fund as one
way to help people who have been gravely hurt by clergy.
Concerned Catholics of Guam also issued a similar call as early as May,
through newspaper advertisements and later on, through online postings.
you a victim of sexual abuse? If you or someone you know is a survivor
of sexual abuse, you no longer have to suffer in silence. Help is here
for you,” the CCOG’s online posting says.
The contact person is John
“Boom” Mantanona at the law office of Lujan & Wolff, at 477-8064.
a group of local Catholics that has stepped forward to defend Apuron,
said on Monday they are disappointed by Calvo's signing of Bill 326-33
into law, saying it is a missed opportunity to fully address an
“You cannot repair an injustice by creating another
injustice. It specifically discriminates against private institutions
and gives the government a free pass. What recourse does a child who has
been abused by their teacher, coach, bus driver or anyone in a position
of authority in the government of Guam? It is imperative for our
government leaders to address not only the very few vocal abused but the
silent majority as well. We see and read about these abuses weekly from
our media. Do you think that these abuses by positions of authority
within the government did not occur years ago?” said Dr. Ricardo Eusebio, president of I Familan Mangatoliku Siha Pari Si Apuron or Catholic Families for Apuron.
the new law covers all other private institutions, not just the
Catholic Church, which warned of bankruptcy, closure of schools and
disruption of social services.
Eusebio said the archdiocese’s
current administration was lukewarm in its opposition to the bill, “thus
propelling the bill unimpeded.”
“Are they to blame as well?
Archbishop Apuron, had he been present, would never have allowed such a
discriminatory bill to pass,” Eusebio said. “We pray for those victims
who wish to pursue civil litigation against the injustices they have
received. One has to wonder however whether, if successful, the
monetary reward was worth it in the end.”