Spotlight, Cardinal Law, and Pope Francis
Tonight I watched the movie that won Best Picture at the Oscars, Spotlight ...
Spotlight is a 2015 American biographical crime drama film directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer. The film follows The Boston Globe's "Spotlight" team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories by the actual Spotlight Team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The film stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup.
The film was excellent. I recommend it highly. I barely know where to begin in describing it, so instead I've added some links below that may be of interest. What I do want to write about here is this ....
Representatives of the church have put a positive spin on the film, giving the impression that the institutionalized abuse is all a thing of the past, that Pope Francis has fixed the problem, that all that's left to be done now is for the church to be forgiven. This narrative is disingenuous.
Clergy sex abuse still occurs and cover-ups still occur (in the news today: Grand jury: 2 bishops hid sex abuse of hundreds of children). In large part this is because the underlying reasons for the abuse and the cover-ups are not being addressed. Richard Sipe is quoted in Spotlight as saying that only 50% of the celibate clergy actually practice celibacy, which creates a culture of secrecy in the priesthood that encourages cover-ups. Others agree ... both Professor Patrick Parkinson and Bishop Geoffrey Robinson have written about the connection between sex abuse and mandatory celibacy.
And then there's Pope Francis. His sex abuse commission had a screening of Spotlight to which he was invited, but he did not attend. He has not listened to the advice of his own sex abuse commission on appointing Bishop Juan Barros Madrid. His sex abuse commission has dumped one of it's two members who are sex abuse survivors, Peter Saunders, for being too outspoken. When asked by an Irish abuse victim to remove Cardinal Brady, who had admitted he covered up abuse, the pope demurred. When former Dominican Republic nuncio Wesolowski, was being investigated for sex abuse, he was scooped back to the Vatican and the Pope refused to extradite him to Poland and/or the DR. And it was Francis who chose Cardinal Pell to be such an important figure in Rome (Senior Vatican official offered bribe to child sex abuse victim, inquiry hears). And when abuse survivors came to Rome to see Pell testify and asked to see Pope Francis, they were apparently snubbed by him (Australian abuse victims contest Vatican on lack of Pope meeting and Francis may need to expand his comfort zone to include sexual abuse survivors). Read more on all this - Pope Francis has done nothing to prevent sex abuse
Perhaps what is the most creepy is that Cardinal Law, who has been proven to have covered up clergy sex abuse in Boston, was not punished by the Vatican for what he had done when he fled Boston for Rome. Instead he was rewarded - made Archpriest of one of Rome's most important churches, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore ...
On the evening of the first day that Francis was chosen as Pope, he made a visit to Law's church. Some papers mistakenly reported that he had gone there to make his first action as Pope the removal of the notorious Cardinal, but actually he just said 'hi' (see Report that pope to exile Law 'totally false,' Vatican says and Pope Francis: Controversy Arises with Disgraced US Cardinal Bernard Law). I was so disappointed. I still am - the Pope has never yet said a word against Law, much less punished him. You can read more about Law ... In Search of Cardinal Bernard Law and Where Is Cardinal Bernard Law Now?
- NCR Editorial: Best Picture win for 'Spotlight' is fitting humiliation for church
- Encore: Hollywood Shines New 'Spotlight' On Boston Clergy Sex Abuse
- Clergy victims doubt “Spotlight” Oscar win will bring change
- The letter signed by 58 Boston-area priests and sent to Cardinal Bernard F. Law on December 9, 2002, asking him to resign.