Survivor Feels Some Hope After Meeting Philly Bishop

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.

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8 thoughts on “Survivor Feels Some Hope After Meeting Philly Bishop

  1. Dear John,

    I say hope and wishful thinking is a good thing but please do not hold
    your breath waiting for further changes. We all need to continue to
    breathe and look for healing and
    happiness in everything we do.

  2. There are many people I have been privileged to share my journey with, none quite as much as John Delaney. We share lived experiences, recovery from addiction, and a desire to avoid spiritual bankruptcy. I was thrilled to learn that John would also be meeting Archbishop Perez.
    To that end, I am not surprised John found the Archbishop as I did, compassionate and humbled by a visit from the unexpected. I agree with John’s sentiments and hope for the best from Archbishop Nelson Perez. John, I will be forever grateful for our friendship and eternally bonded by our pain. Love you my brother!

  3. Impressive openness and positivity on your part, John. Audacious hope. You are an inspiration to so many survivors.

  4. John, I am very happy you were able to meet with Archbishop Perez and that you felt heard. My first thought on reading this blog was it is such a beautiful thing that you are willing to share this experience with us. You are a courageous person. My second thought was that it’s ironic that your thoughts on the the church have changed over time to be more hopeful and mine have become more pessimistic. First the uncovering of clergy abuse and corruption and then more recently not being allowed to attend mass during the pandemic was very painful for me and many other catholics. Not being able to attend Easter mass this year was especially heartbreaking. Catholics were forced to go “underground” if they wanted to attend mass and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. While I believe compassion is very important in a Shepherd I also believe being brave is even more important. Without bravery the flock gets eaten by wolves. I hope Archbishop Perez understands this and takes this to heart as well and we see some kind of concrete change.The good news is despite what Archbishop Perez does or does not do God is faithful. He loves you dearly and the fact you hope shows you have at least a glimmer of faith left and probably much more. I am confident that if you pray and ask God for faith he will give it to you because that’s what he promised us. I also know without a doubt he will send you people of goodwill that will cross your path that will help it grow in you. “My comfort in my sufferings is this:Your promise preserves my life” Psalm 119 verse 50 God Bless and keep up the good work of self -healing and helping others! PS I was reading about the Archbishop who burned the altar after is was desecrated in Louisiana. I believe the Archbishop in Philly needs to do some “house cleaning” to remove the demonic in Philly as well. I thought years ago many churches need to be reconsecrated after being exorcised.

  5. I am happy to hear  of Kathy Kane’s good experience with Archbishop Perez. I did not have such a positive experience in my dealings with  Archbishop Chaput when I served as publicity chair for Voice of the Faithful in Philadelphia in the early 2000. Nancy O’Brien.

  6. I am glad that the new Archbishop is comfortable to meet with and that John shared his experience in this blog. There are many folks who were DEEPLY affected by the poor and hurtful treatment of TRUSTED catholic leaders. Because of the lies, many lay folks in the PHILADELPHIA church sided with the leadership and seemed hostile toward survivors and their families.

  7. John, thank you for sharing your experience. Slowly but surely I see things in the Church getting better. I’m encouraged but I want to see more. I know in our Catholic Survivor’s group, The Maria Goretti Network, we feel more and more accepted. We have ten chapters across the country including Houston, Seattle, Chicago and New York City w/hope of starting up in Australia in 2021. The Church
    realizes because of human trafficking the enormity of abuse in the world. You are in my prayers brother, Miguel Prats Mgr MGN http://www.mgoretti.org.

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