Leah Remini Says Estranged Father Died Weeks Ago Without Her Knowledge: 'Scientology Took My Dad'
"We weren't aware that he had been sick leading up to his death. A funeral came and went and none of us knew anything about it," she said
Leah Remini is processing her father’s death.
On Sunday, the actress revealed on Instagram that while her dad died a month ago, she had “no idea” due to their estrangement. In her lengthy caption, she blamed the Church of Scientology for the nature of their relationship at the time of his death.
“On Friday, I received a message from my sister Nicole, who had been contacted by a stranger passing on his condolences for the passing of our father, George Anthony Remini,” she began. “We had no idea that he had died a month ago. We weren’t aware that he had been sick leading up to his death. A funeral came and went and none of us knew anything about it. We were not able to say goodbye. He was not able to redeem himself, to ask for forgiveness for his failures and hurts, to become a better man to those of us who couldn’t help but love him.”
“If you read my book, you’ll know my father and I had a difficult relationship, but I always forgave him with a daughter’s painfully endless love and hope,” she said, referencing her 2015 book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, which chronicles her split from Scientology.
“Regardless of his neglect and abuse, I had hoped to one day have some closure,” she went on. “I hoped for him to acknowledge who he had been and what he had done to us as his children. That alone would have been healing in its own way. We never got that, yet I can’t help but grieve.”
She admitted, “I am angry at myself for crying for someone who didn’t ever cry for me. I am angry that I still wanted this man’s love. I’m angry that the last chapter in our relationship was dictated by Scientology. Scientology took my dad in as a pawn against me and likely robbed him of any last ounce of heart that might have been left in him. I’m angry that Scientology found his personal weak spots and got him on board not with their beliefs but with their smear campaign against me.”
“Knowing my father, after taking the offer from Scientology to betray me, he wouldn’t have thought that he could ever come back from that in our relationship. If he thought that, though, he would have been wrong,” she concluded. “I would have forgiven him as I always did. The little girls inside of my sisters and me will never forgive Scientology for taking away our last chance to have the one thing we always wanted from our father… And that was for him to say ‘I’m sorry and I loved you.'”
A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology tells PEOPLE in a statement, “Leah Remini blames everyone but herself for destroying her relationships. It’s beyond hypocritical. She was estranged from her father, who was never a member of the religion, for years and now even exploits his sad passing for tabloid attention.”
Remini, 49, was a member of the church for 35 years before making her split public in 2013. Since she left, she’s been an outspoken critic of the organization, most recently helming the A&E docu-series, Scientology and the Aftermath, which concluded in August.