Guam archdiocese program to help clergy sex abuse victims

In this November, 2014 file photo, Archbishop Anthony Apuron stands in front of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica in Hagatna, Guam. (AP)

HAGATNA, Guam (AP)—Guam Catholics said they are in support of a program that offers professional counseling, treatment, spiritual healing, compensation and justice to Guam clergy sex abuse victims.

Concerned Catholics of Guam President David Sabian said he was in favor of the Hope and Healing Guam program on Monday, the Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/2pRtbqw ).

“We support the approach that Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes is taking in helping clergy sex abuse cases,” Sablan said. “We also appreciate the efforts of others who help provide healing to the victims.”

The Archdiocese of Agana is facing 50 clergy sex abuse lawsuits. At the same time, Concerned Catholics of Guam are pushing for the removal and defrocking of Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who was accused of sexual abuse by former altar boys and the mother of a deceased altar boy. Byrnes replaced Apuron in November.

While the plaintiffs and their counsels settle the matter in court, Hope and Healing invites people to receive spiritual and mental therapy.

Though the program is funded through the archdiocese, an independent body will administer it. California-based attorney Michael Caspino serves as the program’s executive director and he will be assisting an independent board of directors that oversee it.

People who have called the program’s hotline are already receiving professional counseling, Caspino said.

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