By NICOLE WINFIELD
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Friday it had convicted the suspended Guam archbishop, who was accused of sexually abusing minors, financial mismanagement and other charges, but didn’t say exactly what crimes he had committed.
A statement said only that Archbishop Anthony Apuron had been convicted of some of the accusations against him, and had been removed from office and forbidden from living on the U.S. Pacific territory. The Vatican spokesman declined to comment further.
Pope Francis named a temporary administrator for Guam in 2016 after Apuron was accused by former altar boys of sexually abusing them when he was a priest. Dozens of cases involving other priests on the island have since come to light.
Apuron strongly denied the charges and said he was a victim of a “calumny” campaign. He wasn’t criminally charged. The statute of limitations had expired.
The Vatican statement said the conviction and sentence imposed by the tribunal at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could be appealed. If Apuron appeals, the penalties are suspended until the case is resolved.
Normally, when an elderly or infirm priest is convicted by the Vatican of sexually abusing minors, he is sentenced to a lifetime of “penance and prayer.” Younger priests convicted of abuse have been defrocked, removed from ministry or forbidden from presenting themselves as priests.
The Catholic community on Guam has been convulsed by the Apuron scandal, which also involved accusations of grave financial problems in the archdiocese and the purchase of a valuable property by Apuron for a diocesan seminary that he actually turned over to a controversial Catholic movement to run.
A lay group that agitated for Apuron’s removal, “Concerned Catholics of Guam,” was decisive in pushing for an investigation into the archdiocesan seminary, which Apuron opened in 1999 and moved to an 18-acre (seven-hectare) property thanks to a $2 million anonymous donation.
A Vatican-backed inquiry into the seminary found that the property’s control had effectively been transferred to the Neochatechumenal Way administrators without Vatican approval.
The seminary controversy came to a head when the Carmelite order of religious sisters revealed it had provided the $2 million donation, but said the money had been intended for an archdiocesan seminary to train diocesan priests, not a Neocatechumenal Way seminary to train missionaries.
In a remarkable 2016 news conference to denounce the transfer, Carmelite Mother Superior Dawn Marie came out of her cloister and announced that her small community of nuns had left the island after a 50-year presence because of the “toxic environment” created by the controversy.