After dispute over epitaph, tombstone at Catholic cemetery reads: She supported priest sexual abuse victims

Chicago Tribune

December 30, 2017

By Angie Leventis Lourgos

[Note: The article includes a video interview with Jack and Diane Ruhl.]

A son says his late mother finally will be able to rest in peace now that a dispute with a Catholic cemetery over her controversial grave marker has been resolved.

Marguerite Ridgeway, of west suburban Lisle, was a faithful Catholic before church sex abuse scandals came to light, including decades-old trauma recounted by her daughter-in-law. Before her 2015 death, Ridgeway closely followed the stories of abuse victims locally and across the country, and her outrage ultimately spurred a break with the church she once loved, according to her son, Jack Ruhl, of Kalamazoo, Mich.

In October, Ruhl had proposed the marker at her grave at Assumption Cemetery in Wheaton bear the message “She supported priest rapist victims.” But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, which owns the cemetery, took issue with what it called the “explicit language” of the inscription, calling the word rapist “graphic, offensive and shocking to the senses.”

After compromising with diocese officials, Ruhl recently settled on an alternate epitaph: “She supported priest sexual abuse victims.” He and his wife, Diane Ruhl, who was one of several women who filed lawsuits in 2003 alleging sexual abuse by a Jesuit priest [Fr. John J. Powell SJ] decades ago, drove the 2-foot-long gray granite headstone roughly 175 miles from their Michigan home to Ridgeway’s grave, where it was installed Dec. 22.

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