Guam priest Adrian Cristobal left the Diocese of Phoenix shortly after being ordered to return to the island about one month ago, according to Diocese of Phoenix Director of Communications Rob DeFrancesco.
DeFrancesco confirmed Cristobal has left the diocese in Phoenix, in response to a question from The Guam Daily Post on Wednesday.
Cristobal faces child sex abuse lawsuits on Guam, but has yet to report back to the Archdiocese of Agana despite repeated directives for him to return immediately.
Cristobal had been staying in Phoenix on a temporary mission from December 2017 to April of this year. He’s been temporarily barred from celebrating Mass following the abuse allegations. The restriction on his role as a priest was issued April 11, both on Guam and in the Diocese of Phoenix, immediately after the first sex abuse lawsuit and allegations became public.
DeFrancesco stated Cristobal did not have an assignment while residing in Phoenix.
“There have been no reports of incidents or accusations during this time,” he told the Post. “There were no allegations against Father Cristobal prior to his arrival in Phoenix.”
Cristobal was chancellor of the Archdiocese of Agana under former Archbishop Anthony Apuron. He’s been accused by two former altar boys, who alleged in separate lawsuits they were sexually abused by the priest when he served at San Vicente/San Roke parish in Barrigada in the mid-’90s.
One victim alleged he had been sexually abused for 15 years beginning when he was a student at San Vicente Catholic School. Another victim alleged he was subjected to two years of sexual abuse.
The Archdiocese of Agana noted that Cristobal has been in contact via email and has been warned about continued disobedience and ordered to comply with directives for him to return home immediately. Canon law provides for penalties or sanctions for any clergy member who continues to disobey his superiors after a warning.
Guam – It seems Father Adrian Cristobal has been on the run for about a month now as neither the Diocese of Phoenix nor the Archdiocese of Agana know where he is, which begs the question—where in the world is Father Adrian?
Since April 11, Father Adrian has been the subject of two sex abuse lawsuits filed against the church.
Immediately after the lawsuits were filed in District Court, Archbishop Michael Byrnes ordered Father Adrian, who had been in mission at the Diocese of Phoenix since December, to return to Guam.
But according to Diocese of Phoenix Spokesman Rob DeFrancesco, Father Adrian left not long after the first allegation of abuse surfaced about a month ago. When asked if the diocese knew where Father Adrian was headed, DeFrancesco said, “It was our understanding that he was returning to Guam.”
In a statement to the media on Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Agana said that they had heard from Father Adrian but that he still had not returned to Guam.
Meanwhile, DeFrancesco confirmed that, as ordered by Archbishop Byrnes, Father Adrian’s faculties were removed on April 11. In addition, DeFrancesco says no allegations were lodged against Father Adrian while he was in Phoenix and that to their knowledge they were not aware of any other allegations against the former chancellor prior to his move to Phoenix.
Father Adrian Cristobal stripped of some priestly duties, may be in New York
Pacific Daily News
More than 120 lawsuits accuse retired priest Louis Brouillard, 96, of sexually abusing children Pacific Daily News
The Diocese of Phoenix in Arizona and the Archdiocese of Agana on Guam stripped some of the priestly faculties of former chancellor Adrian Cristobal. He’s now prohibited from celebrating Mass publicly and hearing confession while child sex abuse allegations against him are being investigated.
Cristobal also faces penalties and sanctions for failing to follow repeated directives for him to immediately return to Guam in connection with allegations he sexually abused children, the archdiocese said.
The archdiocese on Wednesday said it believes Cristobal is in the vicinity of New York.
It also has notified the bishops at sites where Cristobal had received permission to be previously of the allegations against Cristobal, including the Diocese of Phoenix and Ottawa, Canada, where Cristobal was enrolled at St. Paul University to study canon law at one time.
“We are also communicating to bishops of New York and Newark areas,” according to Tony Diaz, communications director for the Archdiocese of Agana.
Cristobal been accused by two men of sexually abusing and/or raping them for years, based on lawsuits filed on April 10 and May 7.
Cristobal has been on a mission to the Diocese of Phoenix since December 2017. But upon learning of the first lawsuit filed against him on April 10, the diocese there removed his priestly faculties — his ability to perform church sacraments — on April 11.
He is still off-island
The Diocese of Phoenix, in a statement, said Cristobal had returned to Guam at the request of the Archdiocese of Agana. But the Archdiocese of Agana on Wednesday said, to the best of its knowledge, Cristobal “is still off-island.”
“Permission for him to be in mission at the Diocese of Phoenix was rescinded April 11 and the archdiocese has sent repeated directives to him to return home immediately,” according to a statement from the archdiocese sent by Diaz.
Diaz said Cristobal has been in contact with the archdiocese via e-mail “but thus far has not complied.”
“Any clergy member who continues disobedience after a warning is subject to penalties or sanctions per Canon 1371, Section 2 CIC,” Diaz said.
Cristobal hadn’t returned a call or replied to an email question as of press time.
Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes limited Cristobal’s faculties as a priest as part of precautionary measures related to the first allegation, effective April 11.
“He cannot celebrate Mass publicly or hear confession while the case is being reviewed,” Diaz said.
The Diocese of Phoenix said Cristobal lived in Phoenix from December 2017 to April 2018, and “returned to Guam after being accused in a lawsuit of sexual abuse of a minor in the mid-1990s.”
The diocese said it removed Cristobal’s faculties on April 11, immediately upon learning of the lawsuit and allegation.
“There were no allegations against Fr. Cristobal prior to his arrival in Phoenix, and we had received a letter of good standing on his behalf from the Archbishop of Agaña,” the Diocese of Phoenix said. “He did not have an assignment while residing in Phoenix, and we have not received reports of incidents or accusations during this time.”
The archdiocese did a preliminary investigation regarding the first allegation against Cristobal and the findings were forwarded to the independent review board in accordance with strengthened sexual abuse policy, Diaz said.
Diaz said the board itself is not involved in conducting investigations but serves as a confidential, consultative body.
“Its duty is to objectively review the findings of the investigation and advise the archbishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors,” Diaz said.
The same process will be applied in the second allegation against Cristobal, who studied canon law in Ottawa, Canada.
Prayers for victims
The Archdiocese of Agana, in a statement, said it extends prayers for J.C.C. and L.J.C. and all persons who have come forward recently and in the past with allegations of sexual abuse by Guam Catholic clergy members or lay persons.
There have been nearly 170 child sex abuse lawsuits filed in local and federal court against the Archdiocese of Agana, priests, other clergy, religious groups and others associated with the Catholic Church.
The archdiocese said it takes all allegations of sexual abuse very seriously.
“Under Archbishop Byrnes, the archdiocese has revamped and strengthened its sexual abuse and sexual misconduct policy. Now aligned with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ stringent Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, our new policy includes mandatory on-line training of all clergy, employees and volunteers on the protection of all children entrusted to our care,” the statement said.
Persons who work directly with or supervise youths are also required to undergo a background check, the archdiocese said.
Reporter Haidee Eugenio covers Guam’s Catholic church issues, education, government, business and more. Follow her on Twitter @haidee_eugenio. Follow Pacific Daily News on Facebook/GuamPDN and Instagram @guampdn.
Guam – On May 7th, a second victim of sexual abuse allegedly at the hands of Father Adrian Cristobal filed a complaint detailing 15 years of sexual abuse.
In light of the allegations, the Archdiocese ordered Father Adrian to return to Guam but to this day he continues to disobey the directive.
The sexual complaint by J.C.C. was filed less than one month from the first sexual abuse claim of L.J.C. Both claims detail sexual abuse which occurred between the period of 1995 and 2013.
When the first complaint was filed Archbishop Michael Byrnes told media that Father Adrian was off-island at the Diocese of Phoenix and according to the Chancellery Directory he was listed as priest on mission.
Following the accusation Father Adrian’s permission to be on that mission was rescinded and he was ordered to return to Guam.
A directive he is apparently disobeying, as the Archdiocese shared, “to the best of our knowledge, Father Adrian is still off-island…the archdiocese has sent repeated directives to him to return home immediately. He has been in contact with us via e-mail but thus far has not complied. Any clergy member who continues disobedience after a warning is subject to penalties or sanctions per Canon 1371, Section 2 CIC.”
With news of a second complaint being filed, the Archdiocese of Agana shares the measures taken by the church in regards to Father Adrian.
The statement reads, “Archbishop Michael Byrnes limited the faculties of Father Adrian as a priest as part of precautionary measures related to the first allegation, effective April 11. He cannot celebrate Mass publicly or hear confession while the case is being reviewed.”
According to the archdiocese a preliminary investigation was conducted related to the sexual abuse complaint by L.J.C and the findings have been forwarded to the Independent Review Board.
The board is not involved in conducting the investigation. Instead, the Independent Review Board serves as a confidential, consultative body. Its duty is to objectively review the findings of investigations and advise the archbishop in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
The archdiocese extends prayers for J.C.C., L.J.C and all persons who have come forward recently and in the past with claims of sexual abuse by Guam Catholic clergy or lay persons.
Guam – Since being accused of sexual abuse, former Chancellor to the Archdiocese of Agana Father Adrian Cristobal has still not returned to the island.
This despite being summoned to return back to the island since last week. Archdiocese Spokesman Tony Diaz says their current Chancellor, Paul Fisher, has not heard from Father Adrian.
The former chancellor was named in a sex abuse lawsuit filed against the church by a 35-year-old man with the initials L.J.C. who alleged that Father Adrian sexually assaulted him when he was a teenager at the San Vicente Church in Barrigada.
Father Adrian left the island to the Diocese of Phoenix over a year ago after he refused an assignment to the San Dionisio Church in Umatac.
The archdiocese has opened a preliminary investigation which examines the allegations and other related information. That report will then be forwarded to the Independent Review Board for review.