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‘Rapist Priest’ Headstone Controversy Resolved

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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A man who fought a Michigan Catholic diocese over a headstone mentioning his late mother’s support for victims of “rapist priests” finally reached a compromise that satisfied both parties.

Jack Ruhl battled with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet for permission to grace the grave of his mother, Marguerite Ridgeway, with a headstone bearing an inscription that mentioned her support for victims of “rapists priests” in Assumption Cemetery in Wheaton, Ill. Ruhl finally reached a compromise with the diocese in December, however, and agreed to an inscription that mentions “priest sexual abuse victims” instead of “priest rapist victims,” according to the Associated Press.

“I suspect that it is the best I can do for my mother,” Ruhl told the Chicago Tribune . “I am certain that my mother would have wanted this and that she would be happy with this inscription.”

The headstone was installed Dec. 22 with an inscription that reads, “She supported priest sexual abuse victims.” A diocese spokesperson said that they were happy with the resolution and, out of respect for the Ruhl family’s privacy, did not care to make further comment.

Ridgeway died in 2015. She spent years providing emotional support to those who had been sexually victimized by Catholic priests, including Rhul’s wife, Diane Ruhl, who, along with several other women, sued a Jesuit priest in 2003 alleging sexual abuse. Ridgeway eventually stopped going to mass, as she was too grieved by the cases of sexual abuse she encountered, but remained a devout Catholic. Her wish before she died was to have a Catholic burial service and to be interred at Assumption Cemetery.

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