Mar 08, 2021 Last Updated 9:51 PM, Mar 7, 2021

PNG bishops stop the rot

People focus of new laws

LAST year the Roman Catholic Church in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Kiribati moved swiftly to put in place guidelines to stop sexual abuse by priests and teachers on orders from Pope Francis. Deeply concerned about attempted cover ups within the global church, the Argentinian Pontiff has been at the forefront of moves to ensure transparency within the institution of about 1.2 billion people.

In Fiji, the Archbishop of Suva, Peter Loy Chong, directed the formation of a Professional Standards and Resource Group to handle allegations of misconduct within the church. The groups comprises experts in the field of law, medicine, investigations and theology.

It has already successfully handled a number of cases which have seen priests defrocked over their impropriety. Archbishop Chong has repeatedly told his congregation that the church system of investigations will not replace the legal system and guilty parties will need to face criminal prosecution if this is warranted. In the past many Catholics have chosen not to address sexual abuse by priests for fear of being ostracised by members if the congregation.

This is one of the issues addressed by a recent meeting of PNG and Solomon Islands bishops who designed a process to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands has finalised its policy on tackling sexual abuse and sexual misconduct. read more buy your personal copy at

Pope suspends bishop

Church takes hard stand against abuse

THE head of the Roman Catholic Church in Guam has been suspended over allegations of sexual impropriety. Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, who has led the Agana Archdiocese for 30 years, has stepped down temporarily – the first Roman Catholic leader in the region to face new tough steps put in place by Pope Francis.

Last month Islands Business highlighted the growing allegations against Apuron which culminated in public claims that he had molested at least one altar boy in the 1970s.

Now the Vatican has ordered Apuron to stand aside while investigations are carried out ton determine the veracity of claims made by 52-year-old Roy Taitague Quintanilla.

In a public statement, Qunitanilla claimed that while he was an altar boy Apuron molested him. “I cried then, and I’ve never stopped crying,” Quintanilla said. Pope Francis has named a Vatican official to oversee the Catholic Church in the Pacific island territory while the charges are investigated.

The decision came less than a month after the Vatican announced that the Pope had signed off on new measures to remove bishops who fail to respond to abuse allegations. In Guam, however, the accusations are that Apuron himself abused boys while he was a parish priest during the 1970s. read more buy your personal copy at

Sex scandal rocks church

Altar boy claims mirror film script

SURROUNDED by family, friends and supporters, Roy Taitague Quintanilla, 52, stood in front of the Archdiocese of Hagåtña Chancery and revealed a tormenting secret he had kept for 40 years. “I was scared, angry, sad, alone, embarrassed and humiliated.

I did not know what to do,” said Quintanilla, who accused Archbishop Anthony Apuron of molesting him when he was a 12-yearold altar server for Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Agat Village. Quintanilla said it began with a trip to the movies with all the parish altar boys when Apuron was their priest. After all the altar boys had been dropped off at their homes, Quintanilla claimed he was left in the van alone with Apuron.

“I thought you were going to take me home like the others, but instead, you asked if I could sleep at your house,”

Quintanilla said, reading the letter addressed to Apuron and which he later hand-delivered to the chancery office. Quintanilla narrated details of the evening that scarred his childhood: Apuron allegedly took him into his bedroom, where the pastor grabbed his private parts.

What followed were sleepless nights and occasional thoughts of suicide. “I cried then, and I’ve never stopped crying,” Quintanilla said. Apuron immediately defended himself. “To be absolutely clear and to avoid any misinterpretations of my statement, I deny all allegations of sexual abuse by Roy Quintanilla,” Apuron said in a video released the night after Quintanilla made a public confession. read more buy your personal copy at

When the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma reflects 50 years from now on its achievements, the name Tuikilakila Waqairatu will surely appear. Called from his flock before his term as President ended, this son of Moala Island sought to make radical - even revolutionary – changes to an institution which has been part of Fiji’s history since 1835. Waqairatu sought to return the church to its former position as a voice of reason, an instrument of tolerance and reconciliation, a vehicle for unity. For many observers this was a necessary change after the church became embroiled in ethnonationalist politics after the 1987 coup, dug itself into further trouble in the upheaval of 2000 and clashed openly with the state in 2006.

From the day of his induction as Methodist President, Waqairatu stressed three areas on which he wanted the church to focus: Reading the Bible, institutional change, and moderation - especially in yaqona (kava) consumption and eating. Former medical doctor turned cleric Reverend Dr Mosese Salusalu says he was inspired by Waqairatu’s vision. “Yaqona drinking was a major part of my life – I enjoyed the whole experience,” Rev Dr Salusalu said. “But the late president told me that to be a better Christian it was important to read and reflect on God’s word (the Bible) more regularly.

“He said yaqona drinking should be done in moderation, that as italatala (ministers) we should be more disciplined with time and for me that was a major change in my lifestyle but it was the right thing to do.” Yaqona drinking is a central theme in Methodist functions either as a cultural or social tool. And in this most conservative of institutions Waqairatu dared suggest that it was time to scale back the time spent on consumption to allow for more theology and social justice activities. The backlash was immediate with ministers challenging the theological basis of the yaqona ban and some suggesting that such a rule impinged on their human rights. read more buy your personal copy at

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