Pope Francis suspends Archbishop of Guam over sex abuse allegations

Pope Francis has suspended the Archbishop of Guam following accusations of sexual abuse, two days after a papal decree said bishops who failed to respond to abuse allegations could be removed.


Pope Francis has named a Vatican official who will oversee the Catholic Church in Guam, a Pacific island territory, during the investigation into allegations against Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron.

It was announced on Monday that Apuron will rescind his position in the Agana Archdiocese, which he has led for 30 years, at least temporarily over allegations that he abused boys in the 1970s.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, currently second-in-command of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, will take control of Agana in Apuron's absence.

The Pope's actions are the latest sign that he is acting to tackle the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

Allegations against Apuron emerged last month when Roy Taitague Quintanilla, 52, claimed Apuron molested him when he was an altar boy.

"I cried then, and I've never stopped crying," he said, according to Pacific Daily News.

His statement prompted Dori Conepcion to come forward on behalf of her late son, Joseph A Quinata, who she claims was abused by Apuron in the 1970s.

Deacon Steve Martinez, the archdiocese's former sexual abuse response coordinator, said Apuron had promoted weak policies on abuse in order to protect himself from potential investigation. 

"His effort of self-preservation has blinded his command to protect... I'm sad to say that today, my worst dreams have come true," Martinez said, according to The Guam Daily Post.

Apuron has denied the allegations and the archdiocese has hired a lawyer to defend him.

Pope Francis announced on Saturday that the Vatican will investigate bishops found guilty of "negligence" in tackling abuse cases.

The Pontiff has pledged zero tolerance for anyone in the Church who abuses children and likened such abuse to a "satanic mass". In 2014 he established a Vatican commission intended to set best practices to root out abuse in parishes.

With the decree, he puts into action what he promised last year when he approved a Vatican tribunal to judge bishops accused of covering up or failing to prevent abuse of minors.