The Archbishop of Guam, who is facing five lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of minors, publicly denied the latest accusation that he raped his nephew.
Archbishop Anthony Apuron issued the public denial on Jan. 18, along with a denial of all allegations of sexual abuse of minors, according to Crux Now. Mark Apuron, the archbishop’s nephew, filed the fifth lawsuit against his uncle on Jan. 10, alleging that his uncle raped him in a church bathroom when he was a teenager in either 1989 or 1990.
“God is my witness: I deny all allegations of sexual abuse made against me, including this last one,” Apuron’s statement read, according to Guam Pacific Daily News.
Apuron alleged in his statement that all of his accusers have been groomed by a single source whose agenda is to destroy the church in Guam. Apuron also claimed the timing of his nephew’s accusation was meant to influence the outcome of his Vatican trial. Apuron’s five lawsuits are part of a larger scandal in the Archdiocese of Agaña, that is facing a total of 96 lawsuits alleging widespread sexual abuse of minors in Guam by church leadership and one Boy Scout leader. (Related: Catholic Church Embroiled In Nearly 100 Lawsuits Over Sexual Abuse In Guam)
Francis replaced Apuron with Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes in 2016 and stripped Apuron of his authority after the accusations against him went public. Apuron’s Vatican trial began in 2016 as well with Cardinal Raymond Burke serving as the presiding judge. Byrnes, who has not yet officially succeeded Apuron as Archbishop of Guam, said the trial reached a conclusion in 2017, though the Vatican has not made anything of that decision public.
Apuron said in the meantime that he is recovering from surgery and will pray for his accusers.
“As the Church in Guam is being destroyed by people who have only their power agenda at heart, may God have mercy on us all and save His Church from the powers of darkness. I pray that the truth may prevail; I pray for my accusers: fill them with what they desire,” Apuron’s statement reads.
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