Pacific News Minute: Catholic Church in Guam Files for Bankruptcy

Jan 17, 2019

St. Anthony's Church in Guam
Credit Abasaa / Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, the Catholic Church in Guam filed for bankruptcy. The assets of the archdiocese will go to pay off more than 200 victims in the child sex abuse and cover-up scandal that erupted three years ago.

In May, 2016, Hawaii resident Roy Quintanilla came forward to charge that Archbishop Anthony Apuron had raped and abused him when he was an altar boy in Guam. The Archdiocese of Agana denounced the accusation as “malicious lies” and vowed to take the case to court.

A week later, Doris Concepcion came forward and declared that her son, Joseph Quinata, told her on his deathbed that Archbishop Apuron had molested him. The accusations appeared to validate decades of rumors on Guam.

Since many of the cases dated back decades, the statute of limitations barred criminal prosecution. But as more and more victims came forward, Governor Eddie Calvo signed a law that changed the statute for civil cases, and a flood of lawsuits followed. 21 people have been named, including a bishop, two archbishops and several priests; claims add up to at least a billion dollars.

Yesterday, Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes announced the decision to file for bankruptcy. He told reporters, “We take responsibility as a church for the sins of the past.”  Some Church properties will be sold, including a former hotel remodeled as a seminary and the chancery property that includes the archbishop’s residence. Parish churches, schools and a soup kitchen will continue to operate.

Last year, Archbishop Apuron was convicted in a secretive Vatican trial, which ordered his removal from office. The charges against him have never been disclosed. Apuron’s appeal is still pending.