Concerned about the world of financial hurt facing the Catholic Church of Guam, Archbishop Michael Byrnes made a plea on Friday to the faithful concerning its settlement offer due March 25 for what he referred to as the church’s “atonement, reparation and reorganization because of the grave harm our archdiocese inflicted upon numerous children in the past.”
“As we take our next steps amid this penitential season of Lent, I again implore all Catholics on Guam to wholeheartedly accept the truth of our sins and the collective responsibility that we all must bring peace and healing to those who suffered sexual abuse in our archdiocese,” he wrote in his letter entitled “A time of atonement, reparation, and reorganization.”
The Archbishop is concerned about the world of financial hurt and resource scarcity in a post-payout Archdiocese. His concern comes before the so-called hurt even happens; but years and decades after his beloved Archdiocese hurt so many children.
Where was the Archdiocese, on the thousands of days over decades on Guam that Father Louis Broulliard was raping boys placed into his care?
Where was the Archdiocese, when a host of other priests and teachers were abusing boys and girls, while their parents thought these animals cloaked as holy men were helping their kids?
Where was the Archdiocese, when some of these boys actually spoke up about the crimes against them?
Where was the Archdiocese on December 8, 1993, when I lay in the hedonistic waste of one of the archdiocese’s beloved and protected pedophiles? I’ll tell you exactly what the Archdiocese was doing, because it is precisely what I did as soon as that animal teacher who raped me that morning dropped me off to do. The Archdiocese, in full regalia, and beaming with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, was parading Hagatna, its leaders masquerading as saviors of our souls while the entire time concealing its predators.
Only now — after facing imminent financial ruin in a court of law — does the archdiocese find itself preparing to atone for its sins, pinned to the pretext of a consolidation of resources. Where was the Archdiocese, when the victims started coming forward, the legislature debated the law that made this all possible, and the survivors began to find their voice? Contrary to Byrnes’s recent letter to the faithful accepting responsibility, the Archdiocese for years since the controversy erupted has been fighting against this effort.
The Archdiocese — including the previous two archbishops and several priests — lobbied senators and the former governor, thankfully unsuccessfully, to tank the law allowing survivors to hold the church responsible. And when the lawsuits started coming, the archdiocese did everything it could to shirk responsibility for its crimes.
The post payout world of the Catholic Church
Byrnes warned of “immediate sacrifices and difficult decisions” that must be made by all the faithful at parishes, schools, ministries, as well as the Chancery office.
His letter implies that the financial settlement is an attempt to bring “peace and healing” to the victims and that parishioners need to partake in the collective responsibility of helping to shield and preserve church assets. The irony, for me, is that I am a parishioner. I am part of this church to which he has pinned collective blame and responsibility. Was it my fault someone from the archdiocese raped me repeatedly, and when I reported it, the archdiocese continued to cover it up?
To pen what can only be described as a desperate plea to parishioners to help save the church by making more sacrifices financially makes it all the more obvious that Archbishop Byrnes and others he seeks counsel from think the settlement is just something “we” —meaning the church have to pay.
The truth is no amount of money or property is going to take away the pain and suffering inflicted on children by Guam’s pedophile priests, but it is a start. “Reparations” as the Archbishop dares to call it is not mere penance for a sin.
The purpose of the impending settlement is to teach a lesson the leaders and clergy of this island’s Catholic Church will never forget.
And that lesson is that society does not and will not tolerate an organized institution such as the church turn a blind eye to child sexual abuse by its own and then work to cover it up. That is essentially what happened unabated for decades.
The price that ultimately needs to be paid by those charged with overseeing an organization which perpetrated the most egregious of crimes against innocent children need to be at a level that would prevent that organization from allowing this to happen again.
It is not reparations to make victims whole, it is punishment for crimes committed and that punishment needs to be severe enough to prevent it from ever happening again.
There’s another angle to this; and likely an impressive, or dominating angle. It has been brought to my attention by several trustworthy people that Archbishop Byrnes is falling into the trap of his predecessors and allowing the Neocatechumenal Way’s political wing into the centers of power and decision-making in the Archdiocese. The problem is, I don’t understand these dynamics completely.
Perhaps it’s time Kandit delved into this dark crevice.