Clergy sex abuse survivor plans hunger strike

A survivor of clergy sex abuse from Massachusetts has decided to stop eating until the Vatican acknowledges receipt of messages from several families of victims that he was assured would be sent to Pope Francis.

Olan Horne, 59, of Chester, one of the first survivors to go public about abuse in the Boston Archdiocese and a longtime advocate for families affected by abuse, told The Berkshire Eagle for a story published Monday that his hunger strike will start at midnight Wednesday. A summit on abuse starts Thursday in Rome.

"I'm ready to stand up for what I believe," Horne said. "I'm going to bring it to a head. Somebody has to bring attention to this."

Horne gathered messages from several families last fall to send to Pope Francis. He delivered the messages, as well as one family's gift, to Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley's office. O'Malley was named by Pope Francis to help guide a reform commission on the priest abuse scandal.

Horne says he was assured the materials were forwarded to the Vatican.

"I trust in O'Malley, and in what he stands for," Horne said.

Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon said in an email Tuesday that the materials were sent to the Vatican.

Horne will take liquids, and his health will be monitored during his hunger strike, he said. He plans to sign a do-not-resuscitate order, he said.

Horne has said he was abused as a teen at a parish in Lowell by Rev. Joseph Birmingham, who died in 1989. He has been one of the most outspoken clergy abuse survivors.

Horne was granted an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 to discuss the clergy abuse crisis while the pontiff was visiting Washington.

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Information from: The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, http://www.berkshireeagle.com