Pope Francis has named a special administrator for the Catholic Church on the Pacific island of Guam after its archbishop was accused of sexually abusing young boys decades ago.

The archdiocese of Agana in the American territory said last week it had hired a law firm and independent investigator to look into the allegations against Archbishop Anthony Apuron.

On Monday, Francis nominated Monsignor Savio Hon Tai-Fai as "apostolic administrator" for the archdiocese. Such administrators are often named to run archdioceses temporarily until a new archbishop is named.

Apuron has vigorously denied allegations he molested a former altar boy and a now-deceased son of an Arizona woman in the 1970s. The allegations resurfaced after a church deacon accused Apuron of purposely keeping the archdioceses' sexual abuse policy weak to protect himself.