May 05, 2005

A symbolic meeting with bishop


Thursday, May 5, 2005


Johnny Vega walked into the offices of the Paterson Diocese two weeks ago with a pair of his trademark military-style boots slung over his shoulder. When he left the bishop's office, an hour-and-a-half later, he only had one.

And that was a good thing. A very good thing. For Vega, 41, that one little child-sized boot served as a symbol of his recent struggles with the diocese and Catholicism together. The meeting was one final and important step in his quest to reconcile with the Catholic Church - the church that he was raised in, that his parents were raised in and their parents, as well, the church where he served as an altar boy as a youth.

And the church that he alleges covered up his sexual abuse at the hands of the Rev. Jose Alonzo and Deacon Carlos Guzman at Our Lady of Victories and St. John's Cathedral, both in Paterson, when he was between the ages of 11 and 16.

Vega, of Wallington, was one of 27 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Paterson Diocese alleging sex abuse by area priests. The lawsuit was filed in January 2004 and settled last February - without an admission of guilt or wrongdoing, by the diocese - for $5 million, four years of paid counseling and, upon request, a one-on-one meeting with Paterson Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli. (Serratelli was not the bishop during the time of the alleged abuse.)

Posted by kshaw at May 5, 2005 10:38 AM