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Offshore Postcard: Confronting Faith

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A woman waits with a child behind a statue in the Santa Barbara Catholic Church office in Dededo. Image by Cory Lum. Guam, 2017.

A woman waits with a child behind a statue in the Santa Barbara Catholic Church office in Dededo. Image by Cory Lum. Guam, 2017.

More than 100 people are suing Guam’s Catholic Church, saying they were sexually abused by priests in cases that go back decades. Sex abuse within the Catholic Church is a well-known issue on the mainland, but this is the first time Guam has had to come to grips with it. And it’s a huge deal. Not just because of the abuse, but because the outpouring of accusations is a sign of massive societal change in Guam — an island where, after centuries of colonization, many people view Catholicism as an inextricable part of Chamorro culture. This is a story about the abuse cases, but it’s also a story about the evolving role of the Catholic Church on Guam. And about a reporter who’s struggled for years to explain where she comes from and what it means to be Chamorro, finding answers in some very unexpected places.

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