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New archbishop-elect Ryan Jimenez vows to prioritize 'trust' and 'healing'

Archbishop Ryan P. Jimenez stands over a wooden podium to speak with Guam's press media for a press conference.
Naina Rao
Isla Public Media/KPRG
Archbishop Ryan P. Jimenez answers questions during a press conference on July 9, 2024, as he takes over the leadership of the Archdiocese of Agana.

The Archdiocese of Agana introduced its new archbishop-elect, Bishop Ryan P. Jimenez, in a press conference held Tuesday, July 9. Bishop Jimenez, who previously served in Saipan, expressed his dedication to building trust with the local community and emphasized the importance of taking the time to learn.

"When you're new in your role, whatever leadership role, take the time to get to know people, the staff, the priests, the deacons, that community," Jimenez said during his first press conference as archbishop-elect. "So I will take my time."

Jimenez indicated that he would also take his time to address any potential leadership changes, with decisions possibly extending to mid-April 2024.

This move marks a new chapter for the church in Guam after hundreds of sexual abuse accusations led to the archdiocese's bankruptcy, and a Vatican tribunal finding former Archbishop Anthony Apuron guilty of having sexually abused minors.

The archdiocese is in the final stages of completing a $34 million settlement of the civil suit filed by 280 plaintiffs, most of whom are former altar servers who alleged they were sexually abused by priests and other members of the clergy when they were minors, dating back to the 1950s. The settlement involves the sale of the archdiocese's prime properties to cover any indemnification costs.

"We're in the stage of implementing what needs to be implemented — that much I know. So it's a continuing work," said Jimenez.

He acknowledged the ongoing need for healing and reconciliation in light of the abuse scandals. "Bringing back trust to people... how do we do that? It's always important for me that, that should be at the forefront. Not to lose sight of that," Jimenez said.

Jimenez will succeed Archbishop Michael Byrnes, who resigned in 2023 due to health reasons.

The installation Mass will be held on Aug. 15 at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna.

Naina Rao serves as Isla Public Media's first News Director. She's extensively produced for National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Culture Desk, and 1A.