Archbishop makes pitch to lawmakers
by Nick Delgado
On Primetime Monday KUAM News brought you the exclusive interview with Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz, who admitted that he had been sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was a teen. The shocking details were in response to the archbishop and the Catholic Church's decision to urge parishioners to oppose Bill 185 - the Same Sex Civil Unions Legislation - and encouraged all homosexuals to come to the church to be converted.
The comments have sparked major debate within our community and today the Archbishop took his concerns to the very people who will decide the fate of the controversial legislation.
Archbishop Anthony Apuron held an invitation only breakfast for several priests and island senators at the Guam Hilton Hotel this morning to further discuss his strong opposition to same-sex civil unions. This was after he had been preaching from the pulpit, giving a passionate plea to parishioners to oppose Bill 185 and encouraging homosexuals to seek help with the Catholic Church to be converted.
He announced, "Homosexuals' acts are sins gravely contrary to chastity". He made his pitch to members of the 30th Guam Legislature this morning, but KUAM News was not allowed in to this morning's discussions. "We're not hiding anything," stated Deacon Jeff Barcinas, "but we just want to make sure that we respect the decorum."
We attempted to get comments from the Archbishop and have him respond to allegations made by the Vice-Speaker that members of the Catholic Church locally have been responsible for sexual abuse. "I need to look further into this, ok?" he stated when asked.
Then asked if he would be able to say if he had received any sex abuse complaints from the Catholic Church on Guam, or if he had any comment on the situation that Cruz brought to light yesterday, the leader of the island's Catholic faithful said simply, "We'll have no comment."
Despite the Archbishop's denial of any sexual abuses cases on Guam, Vice-Speaker Cruz, who admitted to KUAM News that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was 13 years old while attending St. John Bosco High School in Los Angeles, California, believes the hypocrisy from the church must stop.
The lawmaker said, "Until this church and this archdiocese cleans up its own act and removes the pedophile priest that is still wearing the collar, it has no business telling us to clean up our own house when they haven't cleaned up theirs." Cruz declined to name the priest responsible for the alleged abuse and expressed his disappointment with the church's position on the issue of homosexuality and Bill 185.
"It's not being insensitive to those who are homosexual," said the Archbishop. "We're asking them to convert, to change, to try to find a way out of to be helped out of this homosexual activity and homosexual lifestyle. We need to pray for them. We need to pray for each other and we need to act now." Cruz would add, "The church is more a major predator than it is anything else. For it to become so sanctimonious is beyond the pail."
Those who attended this morning's meeting told KUAM that Apuron apologized for the mistakes of the church, but denied knowing of any sexual abuse occurring locally. Other lawmakers who attended today's meeting say they weren't swayed to change their mind on Bill 185.
"The dialogue still continues were still having our discussions. I already talk to you about where my position is at," said Senator Frank Blas, Jr. Democrat Senator Tina Rose Muna-Barnes added, "If anybody needs to benefit for the community as a whole, it needs to be a win-win for everybody and everybody should integrate and work closely with one another." Senator Eddie Calvo added, "I think it's very constructive; there was a lot of discussion from both sides on different perspectives. I think were moving the in right direction."
While lawmakers aren't set to vote on the measure until next week when they go into session, Senator Telo Taitague believes the decision should be left to the people, saying, "Here we are a group of what, fifteen of us here? Priests and politicians deciding the fate of the whole entire island with regards to 185 on the impact its going to cause socially? No. A referendum is where we should go."