The Catholic Church
Five victims speak out.

Sally Montana Posted by Sally Montana on June 11, 2019


In August of 2018 a grand jury report said that internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania show that more than 300 “predatory priests” had been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims since 1947.

These survivors gave their emotional statements as to what they want Pope Francis to know about this situation and his reaction, which has left many feeling abandoned. Photographed for CNN.

“If I had the opportunity to meet with the Pope, I would want to hear his confession. I would tell the Pope, make Jesus proud of you. Come to Pennsylvania and demand that the (statute of limitations) be removed ... and stop protecting the enablers and abusers.

Those actions of prayer, penance, and fasting, he does have that to ease his conscience, but that does nothing for the victims.”


Arthur Baselice says his son was abused by two clergymen who were not charged because the statute of limitations had expired. His son died at 28 from a drug overdose.

“Prayer, penance, fasting, they’re all words. I need action. You know, you want to step up and take control of your church? Demand that these bishops and these cardinals stop protecting predators, stop the lobbying against legislation that would help victims past, present, and future.

Pretend it was your father, that got abused. What would you do to protect your dad, Pope Francis? Would you pray for him? That would be it? Would you fast? Would that be it? That’s not enough for us. He needs to take control of the church.”


John Delaney says a priest began abusing him when he was an 11-year-old altar boy, later raping him regularly, including on the altar. When he acted out, his family asked the same priest to counsel him.

“Stop the prayer and penance and skipping meals and fasting or whatever and start paying attention to the victims. Not the handpicked victims that he has been — and the other popes have all paid attention to. They’re not listening to us, he is not listening to us.

So if Pope Francis wanted to do something, maybe that would be a good place to start, but I really don’t have much to say to him. I don’t have the same feelings about a pope that I did before ‘02 (the revelation of the priest molestation scandal in Boston in 2002).”


Juliann Bortz says she was molested by her religion teacher when she was a high school freshman. When she complained to the church decades later, they investigated her.

“I think the Pope needs to know that the church speaks on exactly what you’re supposed to do — to repent and be prepared for the next life. I would ask him to practice what they preach. Come to Pennsylvania and take these people out of ministry. Make an example out of them.”


Jim VanSickle stayed silent for 37 years after he says he was abused by a priest he called his spiritual mentor from the age of 16 to 18.

“You need to clean up your act. You need to get your church in order. You need to take out all of those priests that have been abusing children and put them in jail so they cannot abuse children any longer. You know, his letter was nicely written. I give him credit for that, but it was not sincere. He was not proactive. And the only reason that he did it was because of the pressure. It was pressure on him to say something.”


Sharon Tell says she was abused by a priest for 20 years beginning when she was 12; he would later officiate her wedding and baptize her three children.

All images and video above ©2019 Sally Montana. All rights reserved.

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Sally MontanaSally Montana is a New York City based photographer.

Born and raised in Germany, she studied photography at Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland. Sally later relocated to New York to pursue her career in photography, and specializes in portraiture, reportage, corporate and advertising projects.

Sally’s work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, CNN, Harvard Business Review, Village Voice, Rhapsody Magazine, Die Zeit, Sunday Times Style, Money Magazine, SWISS Magazine, Lufthansa Woman’s World, FIFA 1904, Der Spiegel, and more.

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