Monday, February 08, 2016

Spotlight on the Vatican

A friend who is a former Roman Catholic priest has decided not to see the film Spotlight, which is about the horrendous cover-up of sexual abuse in the Boston diocese, and the work of Boston Globe reporters to uncover the conspiracy of silence. More than 200 priests were implicated eventually, and public officials were complicit. My friend is a decent human being and a committed Christian who left the priesthood for love. He is now happily married and the father of two children. I certainly understand why the film wouldn't appeal to him. There are many good priests who must be cringing at yet another reminder of those who committed horrendous violations of trust and ruined lives.

Spotlight is taut, well-acted, and well-told. It doesn't seem right to say that I enjoyed the film because of the subject matter, but it deserves praise.

I saw on the weekend that there will be a screening at the Vatican, which is both good and unsettling. At the end of the film we're told that Cardinal Law, the cardinal for Boston, left America and relocated in Rome. A little research shows that he continued to serve in a prestigious church and had influence at the Vatican.  He is retired now, and lives in comfort even though there is compelling evidence that he is both a liar and a criminal.

We also heard that Peter Saunders, one of the members of a Vatican panel on sexual abuse, has been put on an involuntary "leave of absence." He is an abuse survivor who has been vocal and speaks to the press. While we don't know the full story, this supposed leave sure seems like a silencing.

Commission member and abuse survivor Peter Saunders said that if he doesn’t see progress on accountability for bishops within one or two years, “don’t expect to see me here again by then.” (AP Photo)

Peter Saunders

We have seen significant signs of change in the Roman Catholic church under Pope Francis. This dark stain of sexual abuse, those who were perpetrators and those who condoned it, must be addressed with greater openness and honesty. Without that it will be difficult for the church to re-establish its credibility.

Have you seen Spotlight? Are you surprised that it will be screened at the Vatican? Do you agree that the church won't be credible until much more is done?

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