Tags: Hollywood | Pope Francis | Archdiocese | Cardinal | Spotlight

'Spotlight' Nails It on Church's Pedophilia Plight

By Wednesday, 02 March 2016 01:28 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Hooray for Hollywood!

Tinseltown’s power was on full display at the Academy Awards. Unlike Washington’s partisan bickering that makes people tune out, Hollywood has the unique ability, when not in lazy mode, to shine the world’s biggest spotlight on people and events in a way that engages, endears — and sometimes even enrages.

People pay attention, and when that occurs, it can lead to monumental change.

Take the impact of Best Picture winner "Spotlight."

 The film follows a team of investigative reporters from The Boston Globe in their quest to uncover the pedophilia scandal in the Boston Archdiocese.

This riveting story has captured the public’s interest for many reasons.

How the world’s most benevolent institution looked the other way as pedophile priests preyed upon children; the lies that abuse was isolated, despite leaders’ knowledge of, and complicity in. The widespread scandal; and the re-assigning of sex-offender priests to unsuspecting new congregations.

But the biggest factor why "Spotlight" has grabbed our attention is the pervasive feeling that Church leaders still don’t get it. While Pope Francis has been better than his predecessors in condemning the scandal, the same cannot be said of many rank-and-file clergy.

Reverend Edward Burns, Bishop of Juneau, penned an op-ed in USA Today. Given that Bishop Burns is chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, you would think that, if anyone “got it” regarding how to make genuine amends, it would be he.

You would be wrong.

Bishop Burns states, “In 2002, Pope John Paul II addressed sexual abuse in the Church and called it ‘a crime.’ In light of this abuse . . . “'the Church herself is viewed with distrust.’”

How very regal of Pope John Paul II to label sexual abuse a crime!

And good thing he clarified that priests raping children led to people viewing their church with “distrust.”

Some other words come to mind, but they are too blasphemous to print.

Bishop Burns then cites Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 pastoral letter which stated, “It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse.”

And that’s about it.

Seriously? The best they can offer is referencing two pontiffs under whose watches the scandal exploded?

And they wonder why the pews are empty, schools are closing, and there are thirty million ex-Catholics.

It’s time for Church leaders to wake up and address the white elephant in the room.

Only then will the wounds start to heal and American Catholicism can begin to grow again.

For starters:

Admit that beatifying and canonizing Pope John Paul II in record time (the fastest in history) was a colossal mistake. One way or another, he was complicit in the scandal; he was either responsible or irresponsible for what occurred on his watch.

Given his vast intelligence and the worldwide publicity surrounding the pedophilia plague, if the former Pope had no idea what was transpiring, then he was irresponsibly asleep at the switch.

But it isn’t believable that he had no knowledge of the crimes being committed. Which leads us to the more likely scenario.

Pope John Paul looked the other way, choosing to bury his head in the hope that the problem would take care of itself. And that made the sin mortal.

Even worse was the direct enabling of predator priests and the subsequent cover-ups.

Not only was appropriate action rarely taken, but in many cases, victims and their families were discouraged from taking next steps and going public, with some being threatened with ridicule and excommunication.

Even high-ranking Church officials were not immune; many were told they would face severe repercussions if they cooperated with authorities.

Since John Paul had to know, sainthood should have been out of the question. For the Church to have so vigorously pursued it shows just how out of touch it has become.

Most impactful, give Cardinal Bernard Law, former leader of the Boston Archdiocese and the central figure in "Spotlight," the boot from Rome (where he had enormous influence over American bishops).

He should be made to face the music, be it in a court of law, court of public opinion, or both.

Either way, he should be stripped of the immunity-from-prosecution status afforded to him by living at the Vatican.

Number of new recruits to the priesthood: small. Cost of sexual abuse lawsuits against the Church: staggering. Value of credibility lost by sheltering the Cardinal who thinks he’s above the “law:” priceless.

As a human, parent, and yes, faithful Catholic, I implore the Church, for God's sake, to end the preying, and start the praying. After all, it's the most Catholic thing to do.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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As a human, parent, and yes, faithful Catholic, I implore the Church, for God's sake, to end the preying, and start the praying.
Archdiocese, Cardinal, Spotlight
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 01:28 PM
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