Survivors of clergy sexual abuse face many challenges so it takes a particular amount of courage to speak out, but client Phil DiWilliams is one such brave survivor who could tell his story. This article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer this week in anticipation of Pope Francis’ papal visit to Philadelphia.
A conflict for abuse victims
Julia Terruso and Jeremy Roebuck, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
Last updated: Thursday, September 17, 2015, 11:38 PM
Philip DiWilliams had mostly kept to himself what happened in a Roman Catholic High School counselor’s office in 1969. Years later, when he decided to seek therapy, he told his wife, but did not want to upset his children.
Now, as Philadelphia prepares to welcome Pope Francis with all the celebration a papal visit garners, DiWilliams has decided to share his story.
“I don’t understand why the mind works like it does. Why I can sit here years later and tell myself, ‘It wasn’t my fault,’ but it still bothers you,” says DiWilliams, 59, of Roxborough. “I think because you picture yourself then, a little kid, and it makes you angry still.”
For the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, slapped with scathing grand jury reports on clergy sex abuse in 2005 and 2011, followed by the unprecedented suspension of 30 parish priests, the papal visit is not only a celebration, it is in some ways a rebranding opportunity.
But for DiWilliams and others molested by priests, the popular pope’s arrival is difficult to celebrate without remembering the abuse suffered and the courtroom battles fought.
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