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

DOUGLAS, Mass. (CNS) -- 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, to be held accountable for mandatory reporting to civil authorities, and to establish programs for awareness and prevention of abuse to children, young people and vulnerable adults," Cardinal O'Malley said.

"We pray for the repose of Phil's soul, for the consolation of his family and loved ones, and give thanks for his witness to the truth," added the prelate, who is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.