Abuse survivor who became outspoken advocate for other survivors dies at 69

By Catholic News Service
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Phil Saviano, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse in Massachusetts and an advocate for other survivors, speaks with journalists near the Vatican in Rome Feb. 20, 2019. Saviano died Nov. 28, 2021, at his brother’s home in Douglas, Mass., after a battle with gallbladder cancer. He was 69. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

DOUGLAS, Mass. — Phil Saviano, who was abused by a Catholic parish priest when he was a child in the 1970s and who as an adult in 2002 helped shed light on clergy sex abuse of minors in the Archdiocese of Boston, died Nov. 28. He was 69.

Saviano died at his brother’s home in Douglas after a long battle with bladder cancer. His brother Jim Saviano was his caretaker in his final days.

Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley in a Nov. 30 statement called him “a landmark voice of courage for survivors” who “played a significant role in uncovering the darkness of clergy sexual abuse in the life of the church.”

“We are very sorry to hear of the passing of Phil Saviano and are consoled to know that his brother Jim accompanied him during his illness,” the cardinal said. “Phil’s strident advocacy and his role in the investigative reporting of clergy abuse were important factors for the church taking responsibility for the reprehensible harm inflicted on young people.”

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, said in a statement the organization was “heartbroken at the loss of our dear friend. ... There are not enough words to describe this terrible loss for both our movement and the world.”


  • clerical sexual abuse of minors

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