There are now rumors circulating in the jungle saying that Bishop Byrnes was chosen to replace Archbishop Apuron, which is further from the truth. This is why we allowed the information to bypass Archbishop Hon and have the media announce the name of the new coadjutor bishop first. Had Hon announced it FIRST, many people would believe the false rumor that Bishop Byrnes was chosen to replace Archbishop Apuron. My post on October 24th made it clear that it was Hon who was being replaced. The seat of the Archdiocese of Agana was never vacant, and Apuron remains the Ordinary, the Archbishop of Agana. Nevertheless, we at least now know who our NEXT Archbishop of Agana would be in the future. According to PNC news:
One of the biggest issues is what's going to happen with Archbishop Anthony Apuron? Archbishop Byrnes says Archbishop Apuron will remain the archbishop until death or the mandatory age of retirement.
"As far as I know, I mean that's my understanding. I know the difference here is that the holy father has removed his faculty to exercise pastoral care and assigned them to me for the time being,” said Byrnes.
Archbishop Apuron has come out to congratulate Bishop Michael Byrnes. According to KUAM news:
In a statement to local press on Wednesday, Archbishop Anthony Apuron welcomes his successor to Guam as the new leader of the island's Catholic faithful. "It is with great joy that I welcome the news of the appointment of Bishop Michael J. Byrnes as coadjutor archbishop of Agana by the Holy Father," Apuon wrote.
Apuron's last known location was in Rome, as captured in a video statement after allegations of child molestation surfaced against him. Although he doesn't specify, Apuron states he remains on retreat "working with the authorities in the Vatican to establish my innocence."
As we've been reporting, Apuron stands accused of sexually assaulting Roy Quintanilla, Walter Denton, Roland Sondia, and the late Joseph "Sonny" Quinata - all from Agat and all former altar servers at Mount Carmel Parish in the southern village where Apuron was a priest decades ago. In later months, Ramon Afaisen DePlata also publicly accused Apuron, stating he had witnessed the priest engaging in sexual affairs with an altar boy in the 1960s.
Apuron will have the opportunity to clear his name in a canonical trial to be held in the Vatican. Limited information has been made available on when that trial will take place.
Meanwhile, here at home Apuron faces a $2 million defamation suit and most recently a civil case for child sex abuse, which was filed at the Superior Court of Guam on Tuesday. "Despite my necessary absence," Apuron wrote, "I offer my heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop Designate Byrnes for accepting this appointment. I commend him to the hearts and prayers of all the people of Guam, whom I know will give the warmest of welcomes."
Also extending a Hafa Adai welcome to Bishop Byrnes is the newly-formed organization Catholic Families for Apuron. Led by Dr. Ricardo Eusebio, they welcome the new bishop, stating, "We applaud the Vatican's move and look forward to the arrival of Bishop Byrne. We thank God for answering our prayers and continuing to pray for the vindication of Archbishop Apuron, the Archbishop of Agana."
With a new bishop on board, it's not known what would happen should Apuron clear his name. Bishop Byrnes could only say this during an interview with KUAM News on Tuesday: "That's a question I don't know the answer to - that would be a question I should have asked I had a chance to meet the Holy Father last Friday. I honestly don't know the answer to that question."
Bishop Byrnes, who is lives in Detroit, is anticipated to visit the island late November and make the permanent move to Guam in January.