‘We take all allegations of abuse very seriously’

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This is the statement of Archbishop Michael Byrnes issued to news media on June 4, 2017 regarding allegations of abuse filed the previous week, now extending to the late Archbishop Felixberto C. Flores.

As the shepherd of our Catholic Church on Guam I acknowledge the six latest persons to come forward filing allegations of sexual abuse by our clergy and others. With deep sadness I also acknowledge that the newest lawsuits related to child abuse now include an allegation against the late Archbishop Felixberto C. Flores, who I know is deeply loved by many here on Guam.

Above all else, all of us at the Archdiocese of Agaña extend our prayers to these newest individuals, known by the initials of A.J.R., E.T., S.M.T., E.V., S.D.E. and R.Q.

I continue to ask our Faithful to pray for all victims of abuse. They have suffered tremendous pain that no others can truly know.

A.J.R. is a man who alleges he was sexually abused by Archbishop Flores more than 50 years ago while attending Cathedral Grade School. E.T. is a woman who filed a lawsuit alleging Father Louis Brouillard sexually abused her at San Isidro Catholic Church in Malojloj in the 1970s. E.V., and S.M.T also allege they were sexually abused by Father Brouillard. S.D.E. alleges he was abused by scout leader Miguel Salas of the Boy Scouts at St. Joseph parish in Inarajan in the 1950s. Last Friday, R.Q. named former priest Ray Cepeda as having abused him while Cepeda was a priest at Santa Barbara Catholic Church in the 1980s.

We are heartbroken that the allegations now include the late Archbishop Flores. His standing and leadership as the first Chamorro bishop of our island and the love many people have for him is well known. Nevertheless, I want to ensure everyone that the Archdiocese takes all allegations of abuse very seriously. Child abuse is devastating no matter the time, setting or individuals involved.

We are committed to taking all steps to ensure that victims of sexual abuse in our Church receive the full healing and assistance they need and that all children entrusted in our care are fully protected as they learn and grow in our Catholic faith.

We continue to strengthen our sexual abuse policy in alignment with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Chart for the Protection of Children and Young People. We continue to conduct safe environment training in our archdiocese. I also personally encourage victims of clergy abuse on Guam to seek help through the “Hope and Healing” initiative. They can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-888-649-5288.

Finally, in the most difficult of times, we continue to look to God with humility and forever place our faith, hope and trust in Him.

+Michael Byrnes
Coadjutor Archbishop of Agaña

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The Umatuna Si Yu’os is published every week by the Archdiocese of Agaña, Guam. Our mission is to print and distribute a true report of the Roman Catholic Church’s ministry of changing lives through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.