Pope Sacks Archbishop accused of sexual abuse


The Clergyman overseeing the Catholic Archdiocese of Guam, Archbishop Anthony Apuron has been removed from his position and exiled from the Island, after a Vatican Tribunal found him guilty of sexually abusing minors within his territory.  
Apuron has served in that capacity for over three decade.
The Vatican said in a statement that Apuron's trial has concluded, and the tribunal "has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam."
The announcement said the sentence remains subject to possible appeal.
"In the absence of an appeal, the sentence becomes final and effective," the Vatican said. "In the case of an appeal, the imposed penalties are suspended until final resolution."
The senior priest was suspended as archbishop in June 2016 following public allegations that he had sexually abused altar boys when he was the parish priest in Agat in the 1970s.  He denied the accusations and threatened to sue his accusers.
'The Vatican tribunal believed us'
One of the accusers was Roland Paul L. Sondia, who said Apuron molested him when he was a 15-year-old altar boy in 1977. Sondia said the verdict gives him a sense of relief and justice.
“We’ve waited for so long for this day to come,” Sondia said late Friday night upon learning of the Apuron verdict. “The Vatican tribunal believed us, believed what was done to us. I’m still trying to take it all in.”
Sondia, now 56, said he was with his wife when he heard the news. “We hugged each other, we were in tears. They’re tears of joy,” said Sondia, who still lives in Agat with his family.
'So glad we stopped being silent'
Roy Quintanilla said he was a 12-year-old altar boy in Agat when he was molested by Apuron about 40 years ago.
“I always believed that the Vatican would find Apuron guilty. How could they not, after our written and personal testimony? This verdict was a long time coming,” said Quintanilla, who now resides in Hawaii.
Quintanilla said Apuron enjoyed the life of being the archbishop of Guam for three decades, “when he really should never have been bishop in the first place.”
“Lucky for him, we remained silent all that time. I am so glad we stopped being silent. The Vatican’s verdict was made possible because Guam’s faithful stood together against an injustice.  Although it took me 40 years to come forward, I’m glad I did, and I am glad for everyone that came forward to tell their story,” he said.
Archdiocese will issue statement
Apuron was born in November 1945, as the island emerged from the devastation of World War II. He was related through his mother to Padre Jose Palomo, the first Chamorro priest, according to a booklet prepared for Apuron's 1986 installation as archbishop.
Apuron served as an altar boy for Father Antonio Cruz at Mongmong Church. Cruz, who died in 1986, has also been named as an abuser in child sex abuse lawsuits filed against the archdiocese.
Apuron graduated from Father Duenas Memorial School and Seminary in 1964 before continuing his studies in the states. He was ordained at Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral by Bishop Felixberto C. Flores in 1972, and he became the associate pastor at Mount Carmel Church in Saipan in 1975. The following year, he was appointed as pastor of Mount Carmel Church in Agat. In 1978, he became rector of the cathedral and was named auxiliary bishop in 1983.
In 1986, he became the second Chamorro archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana.
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