Guam archdiocese reviewing sex abuse response policy

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Guam's archdiocese is reviewing how it responds to allegations of sexual abuse against church officials after the archbishop was accused of assaulting boys in the 1970s.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, a temporary administrator appointed by the Vatican after the allegations surfaced, said a group met Friday to consider changing its policy.

The review does not stem from the accusations against Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who has denied the abuse and not been charged with any crime, church officials said.

Rather, the group is working to ensure the best policy is in place, Monsignor Brigido "Bibi" Arroyo said Monday.

"It is to go over the policy, see if there's revision or update needed. That is being done by the team," Arroyo told the Pacific Daily News ( ).

On top of the review, the archdiocese has appointed a new sexual abuse response coordinator, he said.

That comes a month after a former coordinator called the church's sexual abuse policy weak and flawed and said it needs to be changed. Deacon Steve Martinez said he had made requests as early as 2014 to have the policy revised. Apuron replaced Martinez after he raised the issue.

Apuron, the archdiocese and up to 50 other unnamed individuals face a libel and slander lawsuit from four people who say they were called liars when they raised the decades-old abuse allegations.

They also have testified in support of legislation lifting the statute of limitations for lawsuits against those accused of child sex abuse.

A phone number listed for Apuron was disconnected. The archdiocese previously declined to offer a number to The Associated Press where he could be reached for comment.

Neither the archdiocese nor Hon have provided an official comment on the lawsuit or the bill, but Hon seemed to address both in a Sunday message.

"Modern societies have sharpened the tools of the law and people may be led to the belief that wrongdoings can be solved simply by lawsuits or the passage of certain bills," Hon said. "Today Jesus asks his followers to go beyond the book of the law and to try to see things from the perspective of mercy."