Burke sent to Guam by Pope Francis to head investigation into abuse of altar boys16 February 2017 | by Sean Smith
Sidelined cardinal named presiding judge by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Vatican has sent Cardinal Raymond Burke to the Pacific island of Guam to investigate sexual abuse, Associated Press has reported, less than a month after he was effectively rendered powerless in his position as the patron of the troubled Knights of Malta.
Burke was named the presiding judge by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its trial of Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who is facing multiple allegations of sex abuse of altar boys in the 1970s, the Vatican press office said Wednesday. Apuron has denied the charges and has not been criminally charged.
Burke, a Rome-based American, is due to interview a former altar boy in Guam on Thursday who says he was sexually abused by Apuron, the local newspaper the Pacific Daily News reported.
The conservative Burke - as well as being at odds with Pope Francis on a number of issues - has been criticised in the past for his own record of handling cases of abusive priests in his role as an archbishop in the US. Burke has said every act of abuse by clergy is a “grave evil.” But he has also blamed gay clergy for the church’s sexual abuse crisis saying priests “who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity” were the ones who molested children.
Burke, a top canon lawyer, had headed the Vatican’s high court until 2014, when Francis removed him and named him patron of the Knights of Malta religious order.
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