Phil Saviano, a spokesman for the clergy-laity distinction, died at the age of 69

Saviano's story came to prominence in the 2015 Oscar-winning film "Spotlight" about the Boston Globe investigation into child abuse by priests.


Phil Saviano, a clergyman who survived the genocide and was a referee who played a key role in exposing decades of Roman Catholic clergy in the United States, has died. He was 69 years old.

Saviano's story came to light in the 2015 Oscar-winning film "Spotlight" in connection with The Boston Globe investigation which revealed how many clergymen abused children and fled because church leaders kept that secret. He died on Sunday after suffering from gallstones, said his brother and former caregiver, Jim Saviano.

In late October, Phil Saviano announced on his Facebook page that he was caring for the terminally ill at his brother's home in Douglas, Massachusetts, where he died.

"Things went awry a few weeks ago," he wrote, urging fans to "listen to Judy Collins sing 'Bird On A Wire' and think about me."

Saviano played a key role in illuminating the scandal, which led to the removal of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston and hundreds of church buildings. The 2002 Globe Series won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003, and “Spotlight” won Academy awards for best photography and best screenplay. Actor Neal Huff played Savanoano in the film.

"My gift to the world was not afraid to speak," Savanoano said in mid-November in a short telephone interview with the Associated Press.

Born June 23, 1952, Saviano remembers confessing his life as a boy at St. Mary's Church. Denis in East Douglas, Massachusetts, in the 1960s and whispered his errors on screen to Rev. David Holley. He said the pastor violated that trust and forced an 11-year-old girl to commit sexual acts. Holley died in New Mexico prison in 2008 after serving 275 years for sexually abusing eight boys.

“When we were little, the priests did nothing wrong. You didn't ask them, like the police, ”my brother Jim Saviano told AP. “There were many barriers imposed on him intentionally and in other ways by institutions and generation thinking. That did not stop him. That was a kind of courage that was different. "

Describing himself as a "recovering Catholic," Savanoano went on to establish a New England chapter for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, an organization working to expose the specific allegations of sexual harassment by clergymen.

His faith in the church was shattered, and Saviano instead relied on politicians and prosecutors to bring in criminals.

"We place our trust in lawyers and prosecutors to resolve this issue," he told reporters in 2002.

"Phil was an important source when the Spotlight Team reported on the covert of sexual harassment in the Catholic Church, providing more sensitive sources, research resources and the names of a few suspected priests," said Mike Rezendes, a member of the Globe team. that exposed the shame and the investigative journalist of the current AP.

"He also told us about his own tragic story of abuse, which included the determination of the metal we needed to break this horrible story," Rezendes said. "When we reported, and 20 years ago, I got to know Phil very well and I never met anyone who was brave, compassionate or knowledgeable."

Saviano obtained degrees in animal and communication sciences from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Boston University and began working in public relations at the hospital. Later, he switched to advertising in the entertainment industry and to the promotion of the concert, working closely with Collins, a lifelong friend and trustee, along with Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme and other artists.

In 1991, she became seriously ill with AIDS and went public with her childhood abuse the following year, becoming one of the first survivors to come forward.

"Father Holley forced me and two of my friends to have sex with him a lot," Saviano said in an interview with The Globe - the first of many that would not lead to criminal charges against a shameless cleric but to public humiliation as the magnitude of the scandal appears.

In the early 2000's, Saviano spent 10 hours a day on the telephone with victims and journalists. He openly criticized the Vatican's reluctance to deal directly with the outbreak. In 2008, when Pope Benedict XVI told the American bishops during his visit that they were not responding favorably to the church's response, Saviano questioned the pope's decision to follow his advice with Masses in New York and Washington.

“If you were really serious about this, that Mass would not have been held in New York. It will be here in Boston, ”he said.

In 2009, with a kidney problem and unable to find a match between family or friends, she received a donation after SNAP broadcast the word in an international email to 8,000 students who survived sexual harassment.

The outrageous publicity surrounding Saviano's work has led Cardinal Law, a prominent Boston church, to step down. The Globe report showed that the Act recognized child molesters in the priesthood but concealed their offenses and failed to prevent them, instead moving them from one district to another without informing parents or the police.

When the archbishop died in Rome in 2017, Saviano frankly asked: “How are you going to explain this to him face to face with his maker?”