Guest Blog by John Delaney
I struggle with my faith and my beliefs in a higher power. I’m not sure if that stems from being abused by a priest or if it stems from my questioning religion and religious beliefs. But I do believe in something, I just don’t have a name or a face to put to it.
One of the things about being a victim of clergy abuse is that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia offers any victim of clergy abuse the opportunity to meet with whomever at that time is in charge of the Archdiocese. I met with Archbishop Chaput a couple of years ago. It was not a productive meeting. It felt more like it was a task for him to be in a room with me.
A few years later as I’ve grown in my journey to betterment, I decided to ask for a meeting with the new head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Archbishop Perez. He accepted my request to meet and after a few months due to the pandemic we were able to sit down and have this meeting. Before I go into discussing the meeting, I think it important to say a few things. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Archbishop. I wasn’t even really sure how much if anything I’d get out of this meeting but I had to meet him if only to tell him the story of my friends, The Jimmy’s, who we lost as a direct result of the abuse. Both Jimmy S. and Jimmy C were lifelong friends and classmates abused by the same priest as I was and both died within 12 months of each other in recent years. Both were tragic losses.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the Archbishop’s demeanor and his openness to discuss sensitive matters like the abuse. He listened to me, but more importantly, he asked questions. He seemed to have a real genuine interest in my story. He made it a point to give me his condolences on the passing of my mom a few months back. He was open to discussions of how to heal the victims and how he and his administration can try to bridge the gap between victims and a church that abandoned them.
My feelings about Archbishop Perez are that he’s genuine and he cares. I could see that he’s open to discussing the change he’s wanting to implement in his archdiocese. He came across as serious when and if he needs to deal with a priest accused of abuse. It was an important step in my journey to have this meeting. We discussed future potential meetings to further discuss what we can do to try to heal and bring victims together.
I, for the first time in a very long time, have faith that Archbishop Perez is who he says he is and that he’ll do what he says he will. For years I was the angry pissed off victim. I wanted to burn the church to the ground and abolish them completely… I’ve grown since then and realize the church isn’t going anywhere so my outlook now is that change has to start somewhere. It’s my hope that Archbishop Perez is that change. It was a good meeting but now I need to see action to really believe.