VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Catholic archbishop of Guam is insisting he's a victim of a campaign to oust him and says he welcomes the appointment of a Vatican administrator to take over pending an investigation into allegations he sexually abused young boys decades ago.
In a video shot in St. Peter's Square, Archbishop Anthony Apuron addressed himself to his flock in the Pacific U.S. territory, insisting he remained their archbishop and was a "victim of these horrible calumnies."
Pope Francis on Monday named a high-ranking Vatican official to take over the Agana archdiocese after abuse allegations against Apuron resurfaced in recent weeks. A church deacon publicly accused Apuron of keeping the archdiocese's sex abuse policy weak to protect himself.
Apuron has accused the deacon, Stephen Martinez, of being part of a conspiracy to oust him over a soured real estate deal.
On Tuesday, the archdiocese posted on its website a decree Apuron signed on the eve of his demotion declaring an association of Catholics who have been critical of his leadership "prohibited." The decree says the faithful should refrain from associating with it.
The group Concerned Catholics of Guam has featured Apuron's accuser on its website and says its mission is to be a forum for complaints, a support center for sex abuse victims, and an advocate for transparency in church finances.