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Pacific News Minute: Vatican Tribunal Convicts Guam Archbishop of “Some” Charges in Sex Abuse Trial

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Last October, a Vatican Tribunal reached a decision in the sex abuse trial of the Archbishop of Guam, but didn’t announce its verdict until last week. And even then, it left many questions unanswered. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

The tribunal found Archbishop Anthony Apuron guilty of some of the charges against him, but did not say how many, or which ones. Four former altar boys accused Apuron of sex abuse and rape in the 1970s, but there were also charges of financial impropriety. 

After the cryptic verdict, Apuron issued a statement declaring his innocence and vowing to appeal. The charges only emerged two years ago when the mother of one of his victims told the Pacific Daily News that her son told her of the abuse on his death bed. Since then, more than 140 civil cases have named Catholic priests on Guam and the archdiocese faces more than 100,000,000 dollars in liability.

The archbishop’s lenient sentence was another point of confusion. He remains an archbishop, he remains a priest. He loses his office on Guam and may not return. The Associated Press concluded, “It amounts to an early retirement anywhere in the world except Guam.” And even those mild penalties are held in abeyance while the appeal proceeds.

Credit Abasaa / Wikimedia Commons
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Guam's capital Hagåtña from Fort Santa Agueda

Victims and relatives of victims on Guam expressed satisfaction. Doris Conception, the woman who first raised charges told the Pacific Daily News, “The Catholic Church has found him guilty, guilty, guilty. I pity the man.”

On Sunday, Archbishop Michael Byrnes publicly apologized to the victims, thanked Doris Concepcion for her courage in coming forward, and said the verdict allows the archdiocese to begin a post-Apuron era.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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