Pope accepts resignation of 'ailing' Guam Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes

Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agana, Guam, center, stands after Tanzanian Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, apostolic delegate to the countries of the Pacific Ocean, left, presented him the pallium during Mass at Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica in Hagatna, Guam, Jan. 19, 2020. On March 28, the Holy See announced Pope Francis has accepted Archbishop Byrnes' resignation as Hagatna's archbishop, citing illness. He will return to his native Detroit, the Archdiocese of Hagatna said. (CNS photo/Frank San Nicolas, USATODAY NETWORK via Reuters)

Detroit native, former auxiliary bishop returning to Detroit as he contends with illness; Guam archdiocese asks for prayers

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of 64-year-old Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes of Agaña, Guam, who, the archdiocese said, has been "on extended leave due to illness."

Announcing the archbishop's resignation March 28, the Vatican provided no explanation.

A statement from the archdiocese noted that "the Vatican has announced that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of ailing Archbishop Michael Byrnes as archbishop of Agana while concurrently appointing vicar general Fr. Romeo Convocar as the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese."

In the statement, Fr. Convocar thanked Archbishop Byrnes, a native of Detroit and a former Detroit auxiliary bishop, "for the tremendous courage, faith and obedience he demonstrated seven years ago when he answered the call from the Holy Father to travel many miles away to lead the faithful in a place he knew little about."

"We have much sadness about his departure but our prayers continue to be with him as he contends with his life-changing illness," the statement said.

The statement did not provide details about the archbishop's health, although it said further information would be provided in the coming days.

Archbishop Byrnes, it said, "is being taken care of by close friends and associates in his original home of Detroit, Michigan."

The archbishop was an auxiliary bishop of Detroit in 2016 when Pope Francis named him coadjutor archbishop of Agaña and gave him special faculties to administer the archdiocese while Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron was under Vatican investigation on charges of the sexual abuse of minors.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in March 2018 found Archbishop Apuron guilty of several accusations against him, including the sexual abuse of minors. The dicastery, however, did not specify the number of charges the bishop faced, how many of them he was found guilty of or even the nature of the offenses for which he was convicted.

Archbishop Apuron appealed, but in 2019 the doctrinal office denied the appeal, removing Archbishop Apuron from office, banning him from living in or visiting Guam and forbidding him to wear a bishop's ring or miter.

Once Archbishop Apuron was removed from office, Archbishop Byrnes automatically succeeded him and began the process of apologizing to victims and ensuring they received the help they requested. Meeting those needs required the archdiocese to file for bankruptcy and begin a process of selling off property, including the proposed sale of the chancery building, which is pending.


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