Spotlighting the Truth

UMass Magazine [Amherst MA]

November 1, 2022

Phil Saviano ’75 worked in health care, owned a successful concert promotion business, and imported and sold international folk art, but he was best known for being an instrumental whistleblower—exposing the clergy’s sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Saviano died peacefully in November 2021.

Years after being abused as a child by a priest in his parish, Saviano learned that his abuser had been moved around but continued to victimize children. He felt an obligation to stop the abuse and hold the Church responsible. To that end, he established the first New England chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in 1997. Saviano spoke publicly and acted as a consultant around the world, advising others on how to address this issue.

After years of research and documentation, Saviano took his work to The Boston Globe Spotlight Team. That presentation, and subsequent discussions with the Globe reporters, led to the Spotlight Team’s momentous investigation and 2002 reporting of the widespread abuse within the Church. The investigation and Saviano’s role in it were later portrayed in the 2015 Academy Award-winning film Spotlight.

Saviano’s bravery and compassion were a comfort to people around the world as he inspired them to understand their experiences, move beyond guilt, and live happier lives.