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New Guam archbishop after predecessor’s sex abuse verdict

April 6, 2019
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FILE - In this March 3, 2017 file photo, Monsignor Michael Byrnes poses for a photo in front of his residence in Hagatna, Guam. The Vatican officially named Byrnes as Guam's archbishop on Saturday, April 6, 2019, following the definitive sex abuse verdict against his predecessor. (AP Photo/Grace Garces Bordallo, File)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has formally named Monsignor Michael Byrnes as Guam’s archbishop following the definitive sex abuse verdict against his predecessor.

Byrnes in 2016 had been named coadjutor bishop for the U.S. Pacific island territory, giving him the right of succession after Archbishop Anthony Apuron was removed pending the investigation into claims by former altar boys that he assaulted them. On Saturday, the Vatican made that transition official after Apuron’s guilty verdict was upheld on appeal.

His sentence — a lifelong ban from Guam, removal from office and prohibition of presenting himself as a bishop — disappointed victims’ advocates since he was allowed to stay in ministry and not defrocked.

Byrnes has called the sentence “a monumental marker in our journey toward healing.”

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