Friday, September 30, 2016

Guam Catholic church reaches out to anyone with knowledge of clergy sex abuse

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.

“Sexual 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

“Our Archdiocese 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.
Hon earlier announced the archdiocese is developing a dedicated fund as one way to help people who have been gravely hurt by clergy.

The Concerned Catholics of Guam also issued a similar call as early as May, through newspaper advertisements and later on, through online postings.

“Are 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.

Meanwhile, 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 injustice.

“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.

But 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.”

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