I ask all Catholics on Guam for their prayers as leaders of our Church meet with Pope Francis this week during a worldwide summit in Rome.
The gathering will take place Feb. 21-24 and will be extremely important because of its special focus on the scourge of clergy sexual abuse which has darkened our Church in many places.
It is during this summit that the Church will examine procedures and practices on the protection of minors entrusted to its care and grave failures related to reporting of sexual abuse by clergy.
There is great hope that the summit will lead to genuine reform and signal a turning point in the way the Catholic Church handles allegations across the globe and the way it strengthens child protection policies.
The meeting will comprise nearly 190 church leaders: the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches, superiors of religious orders of men and women, Roman Curia officials, and invited experts and guest speakers.
Our Archdiocese of Agaña belongs to the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (Latin: Conferentia Episcopalis Pacifici) (CEPAC). Although I won’t be present at the summit, I have reminded the president of CEPAC of the unsettled case of my predecessor, Archbishop Anthony Apuron, which still distresses both the faithful of Guam and especially those who have suffered at his hands. It is our hope that an example like this might emphasize the necessity of transparency and accountability in the way the Church handles clergy abuse cases.
Pope Francis asks Catholics throughout the world to pray for the summit. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts and minds of our pope and all Church leaders present at the summit. As ever, I also ask everyone to continue to pray unceasingly for the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse on Guam and all parts of the world. We pray for all perpetrators as well.
Finally, as important as the summit is, it must be understood that the responsibility to protect our children rests not only on leaders of the Church, but on every individual of our faith community. True change in our Church on Guam and worldwide will come only when we all embrace that obligation with the utmost commitment. Thank you.
/s/Archbishop Michael Byrnes
Archdiocese of Agaña
Feb. 21, 2019