As Vatican Summit On Abuse Prevention Starts, A Clergy Sex Abuse Survivor Stops Eating

Feb 20, 2019

A survivor of clergy sex abuse from Chester, Massachusetts, said he'll stop eating starting at midnight Wednesday until Pope Francis acknowledges he's received letters from survivors of abuse from Massachusetts — or that the Pope returns the letters.

Olan Horne, 59, says he was abused by a priest in Lowell in the 1970s. He said letters describing the abuse he and three others suffered were delivered to the Pope this fall by Boston Cardinal Seán O'Malley.

“What we are asking for is that all they do is validate that he received the letters and that these people were heard,” said Horne. “Nothing happens until a survivor has spoken and been heard. Some of these people have waited 20-plus years to be heard.”

Horne starts his hunger strike on the eve of a summit on the prevention of abuse at the Vatican, attended by the presidents of the world’s conferences of Catholic bishops. 

In a separate request, not related to the hunger strike, Horne has asked the Pope to investigate the way Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of the Springfield Diocese has responded to survivors.

A statement from the diocese said it disagrees with Horne's assertions:

Bishop has re-affirmed our Catholic community's commitment to addressing past incidents of clergy sexual misconduct while implementing new programs to help prevent any future abuse. Bishop has revisited past cases, increasing the penalty in one such case while he has also expanded the criteria for listing clergy with credible allegations.

The statement also said Bishop Rozanski participated in "four regional listening and dialogue sessions on the abuse crisis."