I know it’s been a little quiet here at The Worthy Adversary. I have been pounding away at the manuscript for The Well-Armored Child, and it’s summer, so there’s not a lot of quiet time around the house.
But things have not been quiet in the Archdiocese of Hagatna, Guam. And every time I think that things are winding down, something new happens.
Here’s the low-down:
Fr. John Wadeson is a twice-accused priest who was banned from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. A former member of the Divine Word Missionaries, Wadeson bounced around (New York, Trenton, LA, San Francisco, and Portland) until he found a home on Guam.
Although his past was well-known and posted on the internet, Guam Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron allowed the priest to live and work in the diocese. Apuron even made Wadeson a part of his inner circle, taking the priest to Honolulu to celebrate Apuron’s 30th anniversary.
Then word got out. Local Catholic blogger and whistleblower Tim Rohr started posting information about Wadeson’s past. Other Guam Catholics joined him in his outrage. Why was a twice-accused priest allowed to live and work on Guam? What about zero tolerance? Why was Apuron allegedly punishing whistleblowing priests, but protecting known predators.
Apuron did nothing.
On July 15, one of Apuron’s critics, Fr. Matthew Blockley, reached out to me and asked for SNAP’s help. He remembered that I have been on Guam in 2010 and thought that SNAP could force Apuron’s hand. I was skeptical (I can count on one had the number of times that a statement from SNAP forced an archbishop to action), but I wrote the statement and SNAP sent it out on July 18.
And damn, if it didn’t work.
Then, the shuffling began
Just like Michael Kelly, who fled the country after a civil jury determined in 2012 that he had molested a 12-year-old boy, Wadeson promptly fled Guam on July 24—but not before making a statement saying that all of the allegations against him are false.
Rumors circulated Wadeson was on his way to San Francisco, where he had worked with families and children in the past (he is in the video at 2:50). So, SNAP held an event in San Francisco on July 24 (note that Guam is on the other side of the International dateline and is a day ahead), which got the attention of the SF Archdiocese. They issued a statement saying that Wadeson could not work there . The Associated Press, who picked up the story on July 25, quoted LA Archdiocese lawyer Michael Hennigan restating that Wadeson has no permission to work in LA.
Wadeson was not going to let three archdioceses, local Guam Catholics, SNAP, and the international press have the last word. Today, he put an ad in the Sunday Catholic Paper, saying that he is innocent and is going to sue anyone who continues to discuss the charges against him. Looks like his attorney will be a little busy …
And this all happened in less than two weeks.
Now what? Well, we don’t know where Wadeson is. But here’s what I do know:
1) Apuron should immediately begin the process of removing Wadeson from the priesthood. No one will take him, he has two allegations, and he refuses to sit still long enough to “show his innocence.” If I were him and I were innocent, I would have stayed in Guam and demanded that LA and SF turn over any proof that I am an offender. He didn’t do that.
2) Pope Francis should come down on Apuron … and hard. Now granted, Apuron is part of a long line of bishops who should be removed (Like convicted child-endangering Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn, and discredited St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt). But employing a twice-accused and banned priest, punishing whistleblowers, and then acting like a bully when local Catholics beg for change are NOT ways to be a pastoral leader.
3) Victims and Catholics need to continue to stand together for change on the island. Tim Rohr, Matthew Blockley, and SNAP are unlikely allies who may disagree on many things. But we do agree on this: sex abuse and cover-up have no place anywhere.
4) Guam should send Wadeson and other credibly accused and/or banned clerics to secure facilities where they have no access to children. But that’s just a pipe dream.
So now, back to the manuscript. But something tells me that the Wadeson saga is far from over.