Heavily Catholic Guam is torn by sex abuse allegations
HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Atop a lofty hill overlooking the ocean in the U.S. territory of Guam, a residence for the governor and a ceremonial one for the archbishop sit together, a decades-old symbol of their seemingly equal power on an island where nearly everyone is Roman Catholic.
Catholicism is woven deeply into the Spanish-influenced culture of this land of 165,000 people. Families consider it a blessing to be closely associated with priests, and having a son grow up to be a priest or a daughter become a nun is a source of pride.
That’s why allegations that the island’s archbishop molested altar boys decades ago have divided churchgoers and put the governor in a difficult spot politically.
When the Legislature unanimously sent him a bill eliminating the two-year statute of limitations for suing over sexual abuse, priests worked feverishly to stave it off, telling parishioners at Sunday Mass at the island’s 26 churches that the measure would bankrupt the church.
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