Last night I finally watched the Oscar-winning best movie: “Spotlight” and found its delivery of the Boston Globe journalists’ investigation of the Boston clergy abuse scandal very enlightening. Although it was intended that the audience watch the movie to follow the journalists’ journey through the veil of silence perpetrated by the Boston diocese, I was also viewing as a survivor.
Throughout the movie I realized how carefully the entire scandal had been muted and silenced by the entire community and justice system. The complexity of proving that a religious institution had been protecting sexual predators at such a large scale should have provoked an overwhelming outcry to correct the issue. However, as the movie pointed out so poignantly, the sexual abuse of children has been a longstanding practice that continues even today.
I loved the delivery of the story…the way it carried you along through how the court had sealed records about a case against the diocese, and how the court files that would have substantiated the journalists’ story were somehow missing from the public records. The exposure of the cover up by the diocese’s lawyers and the cardinal himself revealed how the RC church maintains their veil of silence about their ongoing protection of pedophiles within their ranks.
At the time of the press release of the scandal, I had already begun my recovery from the effects of having been raped as a 10-year-old child at the hands of my parish priest. As some of the victims in the movie pointed out, there was no way to comprehend what was happening, nor anyone to confide in about the abuse by people we had respected as representatives of God himself. One character survivor in the movie stated that his mother had brought out some cookies when the priest came to their house, after her child had told her about the abuse. When you can’t tell the people you’re supposed to trust the most, there’s nowhere to go, but into confusion and self-punishment and, for many, into self-destruction.
The only time that I burst out in tears during the movie was when the lawyer who had been working with victims for years described the condition of one of his clients: ‘He’s one of the lucky ones – he’s still alive!’ As someone who endured the aftermath of having been raped by one of the church’s perverted priests, I was ‘lucky’ not to have succumbed to the self-degradation and self-loathing that resulted from my experience.
During the Oscars, the producer of “Spotlight” made a plea to the present pope to help the situation, but the sexual abuse of children appears so rampant that the entire church could fail. Despite the pious character of the present pope, there’s really nothing he can do when priests are allowed to be alone with trusting and reverent children. After all, we were taught to confess our ‘sins’ to them and they ‘forgave’ us. Such hypocrisy has cost the lives of too many innocent children who blindly trusted the church’s representatives and were silenced like deaf mutes into despair.
From my perspective, I somehow made it through the utter confusion of my childhood, teen years and young adulthood, until I found myself not really knowing why it was happening to me. However, there was a glimmer of hope within me that guided me to keep fighting and searching for a solution to my condition. Fortunately, I found someone who understood my spiritual malaise and taught me to work within with the Light* to strengthen my spirit, which gradually brought me back to the person I truly am.
“Spotlight” brings home the multi-faceted lengths to which Catholics protect their priests, bishops and cardinals at the expense of the innocent victims of their perverted sense of religious authority.
*Light: The pure white light of the universe; purely positive energy; a generic term not associated with any religion or deity
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