Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Survivors network not confident Vatican probe will lead to justice

Image result for Archbishop Anthony S. ApuronThe world’s largest network of clergy sex abuse survivors said the Vatican’s ongoing investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron will not lead to justice for former altar boys, citing a lack of transparency in the canonical trial process and the absence of punishment for church officials who helped cover up the abuses.

Civil courts, however, give survivors a chance at healing and justice, said Joelle Casteix, volunteer western regional director for the Illinois-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

“In the civil courts, there is transparency, accountability and justice. There is also a deterrent. Hopefully through the civil process, survivors will get healing and justice,” Casteix said.
Former altar boys who accused Apuron of sexually abusing or raping them in Agat in the 1970s have filed separate lawsuits in the U.S. District Court of Guam.

Apuron is also undergoing a canonical trial at the Vatican, but canon lawyer Patrick J. Wall said Apuron will not be at the Vatican for any of the proceedings.

“I am not totally confident that this Vatican investigation will lead to justice,” Casteix said. “Justice means transparency, and nothing in the canonical trial process is transparent. Healing requires atonement, and nothing in canonical trial process will show survivors that wrongdoers will atone for what they have done.”

Casteix said there is also no deterrent. “Nothing in the canonical trial process punishes the men who covered up for Apuron for years.  No one is any safer in the process,” she added.

The only person with the power to stop Apuron is Pope Francis, Casteix said.

“If Francis is the reformer he claims to be, he would ensure that Apuron was at least somewhere supervised, safe, and away from children and vulnerable people during the canonical trial process,” Casteix said, adding, “Unfortunately, Apuron is a free man and living unsupervised in California.”
The law firm Lujan and Wolff, which represents 16 former altar boys in clergy sex abuse cases including those accusing Apuron of alleged rape and sexual abuse, tracked down Apuron in Fairfield, California.

Wall, a former Catholic priest who is now an advocate for clergy abuse survivors, said unlike a civil trial, a canonical trial is a highly secretive process with many possible outcomes.

“We will never truly know where the progress stands with the canonical trial,” Casteix said. “Even Apuron himself has no idea what the status is. The process could take years. The best avenues for justice for survivors have always been the civil and the criminal justice systems. For Apuron’s victims, the civil justice system is the only way we will find out what church officials knew and when they knew it.”
David Sablan, president of Concerned Catholics of Guam, said the group hopes the canonical trial and the civil trials will result in justice and healing for the victims. 

He said Concerned Catholics and the Laity Forward Movement will also continue their peaceful protest in front of the cathedral-basilica until Apuron is removed as archbishop and defrocked.

No comments: