When the studios release Spotlight for viewing at the nation’s theaters, the Vatican cracks down on journalists:

The criminal charges against the two Italian journalists boil down to this: they practiced journalism. They found sources and persuaded them to give up confidential documents. That allowed them to report, in a more precise way, on important matters of public interest. A good portion of the reporters I know would have criminal records if this were a crime.

Criticism of what’s happened here seems curiously muffled – perhaps because Pope Francis has inspired so much hope. I’ve shared that excitement, and still do.

And I hope that Pope Francis will come to recognize this indictment for what it is: An attempt to interfere with the fundamental human right “to exchange information and ideas” — and a step backward for the church.



55 thoughts on “Ironic?

  1. Spotlight has received a positive reception from many Catholic Church leaders. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston said Spotlight illustrates how the newspaper’s reports prompted the church “to deal with what was shameful and hidden.”[32]

    Commentary on Vatican Radio, official radio service of the Vatican, gave strong praise for the film, describing it as “honest” and “compelling.” In the commentator’s view, the movie shows that the Globe reporters exercised “their most pure vocation” as journalists.[33]


  2. Darryl,

    Wikipedia actually – it was a 2 second check – tough I know.
    Its cool. Your journalist count. Other journalists dont. Boniface and Douthat count. Feser and CtC doesnt. Tierney and Kasper counts. Dulles and Burke dont. Its all good in Darryl-land.


  3. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 23, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink
    James Young, Now you cut and paste from Yahoo?

    You still don’t observe the irony of what the Vatican is doing to journalists. Just point to the positive.

    Just point to the negative. Dr. Darryl Hart, the David Barton of anti-Catholicism. One of your links is in Italian, but you know you fans won’t even click.

    Not one of your readers has any idea what your point is except blahblahblah = Catholic Church = bad. Dr. Hart doesn’t dare try to make an argument because he knows he’ll be laughed at.


  4. James Young, remember Called to Communion. Bryanland is the realm of all goodness, truth, and beauty. Some serious Roman Catholics see something different. But for the koolaid drinkers, those Roman Catholics don’t matter.

    I read both sides. One seems a lot more plausible.

    But you believe what you want to. That explains infallibility and denial of historians. Yup.


  5. vd, t, why couldn’t it be that Bryan and the Jasons, vd, t, James Young and Mermaid only tell part of the story?

    If you ever admitted Rome has problems, we might have a conversation. But you’re stuck in anti-Catholic paranoia. I can’t figure this out. Are you living in 1940s Kennsington? I thought you were a successful L.A. attorney with an actress wife, someone who got out of the ghetto and knows a thing or two about the world.


  6. James Young, I’m simply trying to get you to own up to your faith:

    Consider it — Catholicism is confusing. It demands a great deal of research, reading, questioning, reflecting, thinking in tandem with faith. It demands that we “discern,” a word that always scared me a little because it sounds so much like “concern.” To discern is to recognize, to realize, to make a decision based upon some hand-wringing, head-banging, lofty precepts and ideas. Catholicism doesn’t let us off easy, ever. It forces us to do some serious noggin using. And honest-to-God funny people are always smart, well read and analytical. So if you do a lot of smart people stuff, there is a greater chance of being funny. This is philosophical syllogism at work: not all smart people are funny, but all funny people are smart.

    You’re locked in pay, pray, obey mode. #aggiornamento.


  7. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 24, 2015 at 6:20 am | Permalink
    vd, t, why couldn’t it be that Bryan and the Jasons, vd, t, James Young and Mermaid only tell part of the story?

    If you ever admitted Rome has problems, we might have a conversation. But you’re stuck in anti-Catholic paranoia.

    Dude, you’re the David Barton of anti-Catholicism. What little you know about it is wrong. You don’t even know what’s in the Rosary.


  8. Hey alls, in case you missed it, Tommy has a new barb — DAVID BARTON OF ANTI-CATHOLICISM. Riotous, clever, creative, insightful. Everyone admire Tom. Everyone love him. It’s what he craves. “David Barton of anti-Catholicism” — magnificent! What will he think of next?!?


  9. It’s not just ironic or a coincidence. It is tragic! Again, the Roman Church is showing that authoritarianism trumps morals and principles. Who would have thought that of the church led by Pope Francis after his rock-star start as the Pope?


  10. Lawyers have a bad enough reputation; don’t make it worse by calling TVD a lawyer. He doesn’t – how shall I say this – he doesn’t reason like a lawyer.


  11. Reformed requires a high level of irony in the bloodstream

    Other denoms, not so much, many see irony as the worst evil on the planet

    Best to taunt and tease these people into a Rumpelstiltsken rage at the right moments.


  12. Fair and balanced:

    Are there issues with this picture? Certainly. Characters perpetuate the common misuse of “pedophilia” in connection with abuse involving minors of any age. According to the 2004 John Jay Report, less than 5% of clerical offenders from 1950 to 2002 were pedophiles (who target prepubescent children rather than adolescents or teenagers). Sipe’s 6% figure — based on his clinical experience, not controlled studies — is apparently validated in Boston, though nationwide, from 1950 to 2002, about 4% of clergy were accused of abuse, with four in five of these accusations substantiated.

    Spotlight never mentions that rates of abuse among Catholic priests have not been found to be higher than among other clergy, in other fields such as public education, or among the general population — or that rates of clerical abuse peaked in the 1970s, with sharp declines since then. Characters reinforce the common but unconvincing platitude that sexual orientation has nothing to do with the fact that the vast majority of victims (more than 80%) are male. And while end titles conclude with a long list of locations where scandals have occurred, there is no mention of the extensive measures the Church has undertaken in the last decade and a half to protect minors.

    It would be easy for Catholics to seize on these and other issues and defensively dismiss the film as a hatchet job, but this would not be accurate or helpful. The film reflects the perspective of the Spotlight team; it offers a fundamentally negative view of Church leadership, one that is narrowly and one-sidedly grim but undeniably based in fact.

    Pervading the film is a lapsed-Catholic sensibility that is rightly angry, but also laced with sadness and loss. In a revelatory moment, a conflicted, angry Rezendes wonderingly admits that he liked going to Mass as a kid, and that, for all his issues with the Church, he had always held onto the idea that someday he might go back. No more, alas. There is nothing triumphalistic or vindictive here; the loss of religion is mourned, not celebrated. Sipe on the phone says that, despite not going to Mass, he still considers himself Catholic, distinguishing between the institutional Church and “the eternal” in which he places his faith.

    Perhaps the most striking dimension of the film’s polemic is that it isn’t all directed at the Church. Church leaders are charged with manipulating the system, but the system is larger than the hierarchy. Lawyers, law enforcement, family members and friends, and, pointedly and repeatedly, the fourth estate itself — the press, and specifically the Globe — are all implicated. “There’s a fair share of blame to go around,” Baron concludes judiciously in a thematically important speech as it becomes clear just how much was missed, and for how long, and by whom.
    We say that the scandal is essentially a thing of the past, and it’s true that important progress has been made. But it’s perilously easy to implement programs without really confronting underlying cultural issues that made the scandal possible.

    Not to mention the ecclesiastical issues.


  13. Blame everyone else. The church with all the authority was only following the instruction of psychiatrists.

    The mainstream media won’t tell you this, but the Boston Globe’s reporting routinely minimized the critical role that secular psychologists played in the entire Catholic Church abuse scandal. Time after time, trained “expert” psychologists around the country repeatedly insisted to Church leaders that abusive priests were fit to return to ministry after receiving “treatment” under their care.

    Indeed, one of the leading experts in the country recommended to the Archdiocese of Boston in both 1989 and 1990 that – despite Geoghan’s two-decade record of abuse – it was both “reasonable and therapeutic” to return Geoghan to active pastoral ministry including work “with children.”

    And it is not as if the Globe could plead ignorance to the fact that the Church had for years been sending abusive priests to therapy and then returning them to ministry on the advice of prominent and credentialed doctors. As we reported earlier this year, back in 1992 – a full decade before the Globe unleashed its reporters against the Church – the Globe itself was enthusiastically promoting in its pages the psychological treatment of sex offenders ‐ including priests – as “highly effective” and “dramatic.”

    The Globe knew that the Church’s practice of sending abusive priests off to treatment was not just some diabolical attempt to deflect responsibility and cover-up wrongdoing, but a genuine attempt to treat aberrant priests that was based on the best secular scientific advice of the day.

    Yet a mere ten years later, in 2002, the Globe acted in mock horror that the Church had employed such treatments. It bludgeoned the Church for doing in 1992 exactly what the Globe itself said it should be doing. The hypocrisy is off the charts.

    You might think a church with infallible teaching would know that sex disqualifies a priest from being a priest.


  14. DGH, i see low and high irony in most pages of the Gospels and Paul’s Epistles. Pointing out some of the best has led to me almost getting punched by angry people in small groups through the years.

    Hard to beat the irony of justification through faith alone, even if it leads to some tough discussions with people who want to parse it away or add to it.


  15. I suppose it makes sense that the ecclesiarchy can never be blamed because if a significant portion of it is corrupt then it undermines the infallible part of it all.


  16. I can’t read and then 50 times recite out loud John 9:27 (read a little bit back to get some context) and not find this to be the most perfect smarty-pants comment in written history. Can you say it without doing a doh-face in scorn at the recipients?


  17. CW, I know Ali may be lacking in that critical life skill of finding delicious or bitter irony in practically everything.

    Some quality time with me would cure that hopefully.


  18. Darryl,

    “I’m simply trying to get you to own up to your faith:”

    I’m sorry, I’m missing where I’m supposed to disagree with your citation or where your citation entails Rome’s claims to infallibility and divine authority must be false.

    “If you ever admitted Rome has problems, we might have a conversation.”

    Rome has problems. That wasn’t hard. You think Feser, CtC, Dulles (rip), Brian Harrison, Burke, and every other conservative doesn’t admit Rome has problems? Do you even absorb what you cite in your articles – I’ll remind you again:
    “I would therefore recommend to any Catholics who are in turmoil because the present pope isn’t to their liking or their church is not what they want or their bishop unsatisfactory to read some church history. Eamonn Duffy’s history of the papacy Saints and Sinners is a good one. When you read history of the church you’ll realize that turmoil and trouble have been with us since the time of the apostles. Might as well get used to it.
    Does that mean you shouldn’t be upset or worried? No. Does that mean one should be complacent about heresy, corruption within and persecution from without? No. Be worried. That’s okay if it leads you to pray more.”

    Turmoil and trouble – sounds like problems to me. Maybe you have a different definition.

    That’s part of the point – my side and narrative can absorb and deal with your side – dissent, sin, conflict, turmoil, etc have been with the church since the beginning. Your narrative of RCism cannot absorb my side, hence you ignore and dismiss it with gems like Feser isn’t ordained, so he doesn’t count but others who aren’t ordained do count, and those in authority don’t give a rip about STM or infallibility, except when they do and are cited by Feser or CtC or myself but then somehow those bishops, councils, theologians, magisterial documents don’t count (just like you cavalierly dismissed the catechism of all things), and Kasper and Germany count, but Africa and Burke don’t, and on and on it goes. An honest analysis accounts for all facets.


  19. Cletus,

    That’s part of the point – my side and narrative can absorb and deal with your side

    This would be more credible if the refrain wasn’t constantly:

    “The fact that many people in the Magisterium routinely ignore what is supposed to be infallible based on my own fallible reading of history does not invalidate anything I have ever said.”

    It’s not the existence of disagreement and sin that invalidates Roman Catholicism. It’s the toleration and promotion of it. See Kasper, Pelosi, et al. How are the faithful supposed to know what to do? Read the catechism isn’t a credible answer if the Protestant “read the Bible” isn’t. Remember, you deny self-authentication and the clarity of divine revelation.


  20. Robert,

    Because that refrain is exactly the point – because what it is replying to is a distraction from the issue. Dissent, sin, conflict, turmoil, etc have been with the church since the beginning – that doesn’t invalidate anything a conservative says about infallibility, church authority, Roman claims, etc. Darryl acts as the mere presence of it does, but it doesn’t (he’d have to argue why it does, rather than simply say Kasper! Abuse! Douthat! like a broken record), hence the refrain.

    “How are the faithful supposed to know what to do?”

    Your own cohorts already nullified and showed the self-defeating nature of your “no orthodoxy without discipline” mantra. Time to move on.


  21. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 24, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    You might think a church with infallible teaching would know that sex disqualifies a priest from being a priest.

    The David Barton of anti-Catholicism fabricating about Catholicism again. Read a book, Dr. Hart. Or something.

    Cletus van Damme
    Posted November 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Because that refrain is exactly the point – because what it is replying to is a distraction from the issue. Dissent, sin, conflict, turmoil, etc have been with the church since the beginning – that doesn’t invalidate anything a conservative says about infallibility, church authority, Roman claims, etc. Darryl acts as the mere presence of it does, but it doesn’t (he’d have to argue why it does, rather than simply say Kasper! Abuse! Douthat! like a broken record), hence the refrain.


  22. cw: Kent, I think you’re onto something there. But Ali Voskamp is now more worried than ever about your soul.

    nope; not worried; maybe should be as a matter of course, but not sure what kent is saying (what are you saying kent about the blind man story?) –I might worry if I knew. Though I ought worry if you two know what each other are saying, especially if you are finishing each other’s sentences.
    btw, kent-cw may not possess a heart, so a caution to you 

    and btw2, re: blind men stories, that Mark 8 one about the man first touched seeing men like trees walking around, but touched again, began to see everything clearly, is a fascinating one.


  23. James Young, your side can’t deal with the problems. Remember? Protestantism has too many problems. Meoh myoh. Christianity must have a better alternative. Yippee! Rome is here. Come one, come all Protestants. You don’t know how good Christianity is, how full it is, how infallible it is, until you are in communion with — oh wait — Alexander VI.

    Sorry James, but you’re not being honest nor are you noticing what transpires among the converts. And deep down you are smug about infallibility and glad you are not like the Protestants. Spare me the shrug. I’ve seen it lots of times from Yankees fans.


  24. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, so priests having sex is the way of Roman Catholicism?

    Dr. Hart doesn’t seem to be aware that there are married Catholic priests. The David Barton of anti-Catholicism is going to write a book on the Catholic Church?

    Thank God for your comments boxes, Darryl. They’re showing you how far away you are from truth and accuracy about the Catholic Church and how close you are to being laughed out of the scholarly profession if you ever wrote any of this fraud for the general public.


  25. How would Michael know?

    I am grateful, too, for the leadership of bishops like Cardinal Sean O’Malley in Boston, who has turned that archdiocese around in every way a diocese can be turned around.

    Will Crux verify?


  26. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 25, 2015 at 6:52 am | Permalink
    vd, t, oh my! Married priests? Do they pray the Rosary? What’s the church coming to?

    No smart answer on the married priests, I see. Busted again. You should call your book “What Darryl Hart Doesn’t Know About Catholicism.” It would run into volumes. 😉


  27. D. G. Hart
    Posted November 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, when have I ever given you a smart answer?

    Once. I think it was a Tuesday. Otherwise they’re all lame like this one. ;-P



  28. Susan, Mermaid, vd, t, and James Young have yet to comment on Spotlight. Doesn’t fit the narrative. But what would they do with this priest?

    As a parish priest I found it painful to watch. I was ashamed.

    I went to see the movie alone. When the movie was over I sat in stunned silence in the theater and waited for everyone else to leave. I did not want to have to talk. Above all I did not want to run into any parishioners. Our church behaved horribly.

    Every seminarian should see this movie. The USCCB should spend an evening watching it together and discussing it. The only disinfectant that will really lead to cleansing is the bright light of truth. The Archdiocese of Boston would never have reformed without the Globe stories.


  29. A paradigm change won’t fix this (for those with paradigms to see):

    After all, it is clear by now, and was long clear to most, to anyone with eyes to see that the clergy sex abuse crisis has done more damage to the Catholic Church than any other single event in the last fifty years. A secular culture? That pales by comparison to the betrayal and despair that the sex abuse crisis caused. HHS mandates and other infringements on religious liberty? They are pinpricks to the Church’s missions compared to the self-inflicted damage of the clergy sex abuse crisis. Of all the varied human experiences that lead to despair, surely nothing is worse than the sense of betrayal that was at the heart of both the sex abuse itself and of the cover-up that followed.


  30. The magisterium is self-correcting and reliable for understanding Scripture:

    He might say that even the Mag­is­terium must be inter­preted, and there­fore to set it up as the solu­tion to an insuf­fi­ciently clear Bible only kicks the can down the road. The Mag­is­terium is not always so easy to under­stand either. Who will inter­pret the inter­preter?

    The dif­fer­ence, how­ever, is that the Mag­is­terium is a liv­ing author­ity, so that if some mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion creeps into the Church, it can inter­vene and clar­ify. The pon­tif­i­cates of John Paul II and Bene­dict XVI, to take just one exam­ple, were largely devoted to set­ting forth the cor­rect inter­pre­ta­tion of the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil, against those who would—and did—misread it. God, how­ever, does not speak from the clouds to say, “I am sorry, Mr. Luther, but you have mis­in­ter­preted Romans 3:28.”

    That’s odd. If not for the Boston Globe, the magisterium wasn’t going to fix the priest scandal.


  31. Darryl,

    The dif­fer­ence, how­ever, is that the Mag­is­terium is a liv­ing author­ity, so that if some mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion creeps into the Church, it can inter­vene and clar­ify.

    Standard RC apologist MO:

    1. Deny that the Bible is a living authority and treat it, ironically as any other text. IE, treat it as a dead letter. Ironic since RC apologists rail against GHM because it means we treat the Bible like other books, at least in some ways.

    2. Ignore the realities of human communication which mean misunderstanding continues even with your “living” authority.

    3. Pretend that the Magisterium cares if anyone listens to it consistently.

    4. Ignore practices that apply doctrine and reveal what the Magisterium really believes. Case in point—the sex abuse scandal. The continued refusal to actually do anything about it proves that Rome thinks the abuse of children really is no big deal. Ignore the relation of this to Jesus’ warnings about those who cause little ones to sin. Keep on shrugging.

    5. Ignore what gay magazines’ naming Pope Francis as person of the year says about papal perspicuity.

    6. Ignore the fact that the vast majority of Roman Catholics have made peace with the fact that the RCC is a very human institution with very human flaws and therefore isn’t really infallible.

    Ironic, don’t you think?


  32. D. G. Hart The dif¬fer¬ence, how¬ever, is that the Mag¬is¬terium is a liv¬ing author¬ity

    the difference? God is dead? Where is mermaid to defend that the dead are truly living.
    Jesus is alive, gone away for now having sent the vicar, the Holy Spirit

    When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me John 15:26


  33. With Rome everything comes up smelling like roses:

    It’s been more than a decade since the Boston Globe shined light in the darkest of places. The Church is a different place now. As my friend Ed Mechmann, who runs the Safe Environment program in the Archdiocese of New York, put it in the New York Times, “The Catholic Church in America has done something no other organization in the world has done — we’ve made a huge, across-the-board change in our corporate culture so that now every leader and every worker has child protection as a high item on his agenda. And we’ve been a great success.” The story Spotlight doesn’t tell is the one that comes after — “a story about learning from tragic mistakes and then committing to a course of transformation,” in Mechmann’s words. And yet, there’s still more to do. As Pope Francis has said, you can never do enough to protect children. There is also the work of healing and atonement.

    Pass the Kool Aid.


  34. All better now:

    I was stunned, and even a little shocked, to hear the producer’s remark: “Pope Francis, it is time to protect the children and restore the faith.”

    Did the producer stop researching this topic after the Globe published its page-one stories about the cover-up in Boston more than a decade earlier? Is Michael Sugar unaware that since 2002 the Church has mounted a massive campaign to establish and implement ambitious guidelines for the protection of children and young people? A link to a 10-year progress report—published in 2011—on these critical reforms is here.

    Today in Catholic schools, parishes, and nonprofits across the nation, everyone who has contact with children undergoes background checks and takes part in safe environment training, which includes directives that bar adults from being alone with children. Further, students are also trained to resist sexual predators and spot those who “groom” their prey.

    Bureaucracy will save us (and the kids).


  35. Can you believe it? Even the Vatican says the church has implemented the right procedures.

    On the first day of his video testimony to Australia’s Royal Commission investigating institutional responses to child sex abuse cases, Cardinal George Pell said that while the Church has made “enormous mistakes” in the handling of abuse cases, he had no role in covering them up.

    “Let me just say this as an initial clarification: I’m not here to defend the indefensible,” Cardinal Pell said during the hearing.

    The Church “has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those,” he admitted, adding that in many places, and certainly in Australia, the Church “has mucked things up, has let people down.”

    However, he also recognized that “there are very few countries in the world who have advanced as far as the Catholic Church has in Australia in putting procedures into place nearly 20 years ago.”

    Cardinal Pell is a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis and a past archbishop of the Sydney and Melbourne archdioceses. He is also the prefect of the newly formed Secretariat for the Economy which is overseeing Vatican finances.

    He is currently testifying before Australia’s Royal Commission regarding claims that surfaced last year accusing the cardinal of moving “known pedophile” Gerald Ridsdale, of bribing a victim of the later-defrocked priest, and of ignoring a victim’s complaint.


  36. But how could the divine structure let through such iffy persons? And why if taking a bite from a piece of fruit condemned the human race doesn’t the cover up invalidate the episcopate?

    In the opening moments of the video testimony, held in a posh Rome hotel just a short drive from the Vatican with dozens of Australian survivors in attendance, Furness asked the cardinal about the wider church’s response to the crisis over decades.

    “There appears to be a consistency … in respect of the response of the Catholic church to allegations, and that consistency seems to be in relation to those in more senior positions not taking the action that a reasonable person thought should be taken in respect of those allegations,” said the counsel, asking Pell: “Now, are you familiar with that?”

    “I’m not here to defend the indefensible,” the cardinal replied. “The church has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those, but the church in many places, certainly in Australia, has mucked things up, has made — let people down.”

    “I’m not here to defend the indefensible,” he repeated.

    The cardinal then claimed that problems in the church’s historic response to sexual abuse were not structural, but having to do with individual persons and how they handled abuse reports.

    “I don’t think it calls into question the divine structure of the church, which goes back to the New Testament, the role of the pope and bishops,” said Pell. “I think the faults overwhelmingly have been more personal faults, personal failures, rather than structures.”


  37. Why does it take NCR to state the obvious?

    In the end it was, indeed, about a “system,” one presumed to be about the pursuit of holiness, that turned out to be despicably corrupt. It took outsiders — journalists, particularly — to question the institution’s rationale and turn it on its head. It took as well those who removed themselves from the worst of the clerical culture, notably Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, who understood he was dooming his clerical career when he decided not to turn away from victims, and former Benedictine priest Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist who deeply studied the priesthood and understood the dynamics of the scandal.

    Most of all, it took the courage of victims who came forward and withstood the often withering arrogance of bishops and their lawyers who tried to dismiss the disturbing truth.

    They don’t like Kool Aid?


  38. Doesn’t look like the church is all that different in some dioceses:

    In a blistering 147-page report released this morning, a two-year long Pennsylvania grand jury detailed a sweeping investigation of allegations and neglect over four decades in the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, which covers eight counties in the state’s central-southern tier. Among other findings, the panel disclosed evidence of the abuse of “hundreds” of minors by “at least 50 priests” during the cited period, alleging that, even into recent times, multiple clerics with known allegations remained in some form of public ministry for years after the Dallas Charter’s zero-tolerance provisions became church law – including one as recently as October 2015 – while the largely rural, 95,000-member diocese’s previous two bishops “wrote their legacy in the tears of children” over years of willingness to squelch public knowledge or consequences on the reported crimes.

    Citing the deaths of alleged abusers, expired statutes of limitations on the living and instances of “deeply traumatized victims being unable to testify in a court of law,” no charges could be filed, but Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane stressed that the investigation remains ongoing. Even now, however, today’s filing asserts that “the grand jury is concerned the purge of predators is taking too long,” likewise seeing fit to blast the diocese’s “Allegation Review Board” – normally known as a “Lay Review Board,” the diocesan body mandated by the Charter – as ineffective, terming its mandate only “as real as any bishop may want it to be” and adding that the group’s practices reflect a mission of “fact-finding for litigation, not a victim-service function.” (Emphasis original.)


  39. Two views on Spotlight.


    Among the most acclaimed pictures of this year was, for instance, “Spotlight”, a film lacking in artistic talent that claims to be an aseptic denunciation of the pedophile practices among the Catholic clergy, through the recreation of a journalistic investigation in the diocese of Boston. The picture has such a “neutral” feel that it has been praised by Zombie Catholicism; however, it is filled with malice, which include the seraphic portrayal of characters (not a single one of the journalists professes not a single milligram of dislike for the Church!) and argumentative spins that are calculatedly malicious, such as the intervention of an “expert” who assures that one fourth of all priests are always, in statistical fatalism, pedophiles.


    I winced at a scene later in the film when one of the Catholic good ol’ boys tells Robby that the Globe shouldn’t run the story because people need the Church “now more than ever” (this is shortly after 9/11), and besides, Cardinal Law “is not perfect,” but he’s a good man, and we can’t let a few bad apples, blah blah blah. I had Catholic establishment people – more than one – telling me, an observant and quite conservative Catholic at the time – the same thing. Except the phrase that they tended to use was, “I know the bishops haven’t exactly covered themselves with glory, but …”. It’s stunning to think of it now, in 2016, after all we know, but there were quite a few good Catholics back then who rationalized ignoring the horror in just that way.

    For me, the most emotionally wrenching scene comes when Globe reporter Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) reads the formerly sealed records in which Margaret Gallant, a woman in whose family seven – seven! – boys were molested by Father John Geoghan, wrote to Cardinal Law Cardinal Law’s predecessor, Cardinal Medeiros, begging him to help. [NFR: A reader rightly corrects me; other documents show that Law was very well aware of Geoghan’s history, including this letter to his predecessor. — RD] (Rezendes reads more than just that document, but the film makes it stand for them all, because it was the most shocking of the lot.) How well I remember reading the Margaret Gallant letter when the Globe published it. I was sitting at my desk at National Review, and I felt like I was physically coming apart. How any human being, much less a cardinal archbishop, can read something like that and not move heaven and earth to do justice – this I could not understand. Bernard Law is a morally depraved man. Pope John Paul II is now a saint of the Catholic Church, and though I am no longer Catholic (therefore not required to recognize his canonization), I believe he really is a saint. Nevertheless, it was Pope John Paul II who reassigned Bernard Law to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, one of the most honored churches in the Roman Catholic world. The depraved indifference to the suffering of victims pervaded the Catholic institution.


  40. So glad the church has changed:

    Questioned on his reaction to the unveiling of systematic cover-up of priestly sexual abuse in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, said that only a number of individuals not motivated by their priestly office but instead “disturbed or immature,” have been proven guilty of sexually abusing minors.

    “The vast majority of priests have been bitterly wronged by the generalizations regarding abuse,” he said, recalling that criminal statistics showed that most sexual abusers were found within the family circle. “They are fathers and other relatives of the victims. One cannot, however, draw the inverse conclusion that most fathers are therefore possible or actual perpetrators.”


  41. No, it’s all better despite Mueller’s statement and Pell’s testimony:

    While the movie Spotlight won “Best Picture” at the Academy Awards on Feb. 28 for portraying a journalistic investigation of the sex-abuse crisis in Boston, the story is incomplete without recognizing the reforms that followed in the Catholic Church, one commentator said.

    Christopher White, associate director of Catholic Voices USA, said the movie is “a painful reminder of one of the darkest periods in Catholic Church history.”
    At the same time, White said the U.S. Catholic response to abuse allegations has improved considerably.

    “The newer reforms of accountability and transparency have made the Catholic Church among the leading institutions seeking to protect minors in the United States,” he said in a Feb. 29 essay for The Washington Post.


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