In Midst Of Sex Abuse Scandal, Guam Archbishop Declare 'Year Of Reparation'

Byrnes calls for prayers for victims of clergy abuse; healing for Church

By Haidee V Eugenio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 5, 2017) – Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes has declared a "Year of Reparation" for the Catholic Church on Guam because of the magnitude of clergy sexual abuses and outbreaks of violence, child abuse, drug abuse and the highest divorce rate in the world, among other things.

"(Reparation) is a way of restoring the balance of justice when people have been harmed," Byrnes said during his monthly "Updating the Faithful" series Wednesday morning.

Byrnes said declaring a Year of Reparation, which will begin July 6, signifies solidarity with all victims of social ills, including clergy abuse and violence, and a collective quest for justice.

He said civil and ecclesiastical remedies are always insufficient in restoring justice, but he said the power of prayer and acts of mercy go a long way in helping to achieve that.

Byrnes also introduced the newly formed Liturgical Commission, led by the Rev. Paul Gofigan and Father Mike Crisostomo.

The commission will provide suggestions for a pattern of prayer, fasting and almsgiving for each parish. Gofigan and Crisostomo talked about specific programs and plans related to the Year of Reparation, which they said is a first for the Archdiocese of Agana.

Byrnes issued a June 25 pastoral letter declaring a Year of Reparation which, he said generally goes along with Pope Francis' encouragement for dioceses to engage on a spiritual level with victims of clergy sexual abuse and other social ills.

“It is no secret that the Body of Christ here on Guam is wounded,” Byrnes wrote in the letter. “In the last few years, spearheaded by the efforts of many of the lay faithful, we have become acutely aware of the magnitude of the crimes of sexual abuse of minors committed by clergy and of many other deficiencies that have accrued over the years."

Guam's Catholic Church is facing 80 lawsuits in federal and local courts — 77 of them involving alleged rape and sexual abuse by priests and other clergy.

“The steadily mounting number of legal complaints announced in the media feels overwhelming, and we know that there are still many more who have not brought the horrors of their childhood into public view,” Byrnes said.

While certainly the most devastating, the archbishop said “these are not the only wounds that the (church) is suffering.”

The archbishop cited deep divisions within the church, which have become much more prominent in recent years. He also pointed to the high rate of divorces on Guam, outbreaks of violence, child abuse and drug abuse.

Byrnes said the citizens of Guam suffer the world's highest proportion of divorces per 1,000 people. He referenced a 2013 study by The Economist, which found Guam has 4.6 divorces per 1,000 people, or 759 divorces a year for a population of 165,126. Russia has the same divorce rate, but Russia's population is about 143.5 million.

“We believe that our prayers, our corporal and spiritual acts of mercy can bring healing to the hurting and can begin to repair the wounds of the (church),” Byrnes wrote.

The archdiocese will mark the yearlong event with a Mass at 6 p.m. July 6 at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatña.

Pacific Daily News
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The catholic church does not operate in the interests of humanity and should cease to exist.

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