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Boston-based Voice of the Faithful will present Jason Berry with this year’s St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award at its biennial conference Oct. 30-31 in Long Island, N.Y.
Berry was writing about the sexual abuse of minors long before the national scandal erupted in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002. His first book, “Lead Us Not into Temptation,” was later citied as “the bible of the survivors’ movement” by Rolling Stone magazine.
“Jason is that rare combination of skilled writer and compassionate disciple whose quest for justice withstood repeated attack,” said Voice of the Faithful President Daniel Bartley.
In 2004, with the late Gerald Renner, Berry co-wrote “Vows of Silence,” which uncovered sexual abuse by Legionaries founder Rev. Marcial Maciel. Under the Vatican’s direction, Maciel committed himself to a “life reserved to prayer and penitence, renouncing all public ministry.” He died in 2008 without ever facing a church trial.
Earlier this year, the Legion’s leadership began informing members of disturbing findings, including that Maciel fathered a daughter, now in her 20s. His photos have since been removed from Legion institutions, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver is leading a Vatican investigation of the order.
“If it weren’t for (Berry’s) work and his persistence—placed at the service of a formidable intelligence—it is not farfetched to think that the church would still be harboring its awful secrets,” wrote Tom Roberts, editor at large for the National Catholic Reporter, in nominating Berry for the prize.