Spotlight the movie took best movie in the Oscars this week. We watched it last night. I was disappointed as they made the story about the investigative team and how they overcame RC archdiocese resistance to get the story of child abuse and cover-up out, rather then what was going on in the church it self.
By coincidence, I had just finished reading the book and did not even know until Oscar night that a movie of this story had been made. Here is my book review.
This is the story of how the Boston Globe broke the story of massive coverups of sexual abuse of boys in the Boston Archdiocese by Cardinal Bernard F. Law in 2002.
Basically they asked the court to order the Archdiocese to release all related documents of priests that had been accused of pedophilia. The court agreed and the walls came tumbling down.
It seems Cardinal Law routinely transferred priests that had been accused of abuse to other parishes where they were free to molest yet more victims. The most famous case was that of Fr John Geoghan accused of dozens of molestation over many years. All told there were more than 70 priests accused of abusing over 500 victims, that had been whitewashed in Boston. Nationwide, as a result of the cathartic release the Boston story had, there were shortly 1500 priests accused of 7500 abuses.
The book was disappointing as it talked about case after case with much less analysis of why the abuse in the first place and why the coverup in the second. The Catholic Church hierarchy at the time are painted as being extremely arrogant and the Church as harbouring some very dark secrets.
The book does mention that offending priests were routinely sent for treatment to specialized facilities such as this one in Canada http://southdown.on.ca/
After treatment and assessment, the hierarchy were usually advised that it would be safe to return the priest to active duty. No one properly understood at the time what they were dealing with and the extremely high risk of recidivism involved in pedophelia.
There is now a zero tolerance for priests “credibly” accused to sexual abuse of minors. Very few Bishops were prosecuted for their complicity in the coverup. Cardinal Law eventually resigned but was moved to a prestigious Vatican Church to finish out his years.
All in all a sordid story of betrayal and lack of accountability that drove millions away from the Catholic Church in English speaking counties. 2.5 of 5 stars.
However some good has come of this. The zero tolerance for sexual abuse and reporting procedures now in place in RC dioceses and archdioceses. The USCCB issues a comprehensive annual report of sexual abuse cases each year found here: