‘Spotlight’: It’s not just a Catholic problem

Print More
The cast of "Spotlight" - courtesy of Open Road Films

The cast of "Spotlight" - courtesy of Open Road Films

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.” – Mitch Garabedian

Last week, I had the privilege of finally seeing the much-anticipated “Spotlight.” This powerful film focuses on the true story of an amazing group of journalists from the Boston Globe who worked alongside brave and tireless abuse survivors and a relentless plaintiff’s attorney to expose the untold horrors of child sexual abuse and cover up in the Boston archdiocese in 2002. What finally surfaced was hundreds of offending clergy and over 1000 victims in Boston alone.

Though I think everyone should watch this film, I especially think that my fellow Protestants can learn much from seeing it. However, learning will require a humility that enables us to be slow in pointing the finger at others, and quick to the difficult and sobering task of self-examination.

Some may be tempted to watch this film with disgust for the Catholic Church and a sigh of relief for Protestant churches. Such relief would be unfounded and misplaced. A number of years ago, the three companies that insure most Protestant churches reported that receiving approximately 260 reports a year of minors being sexually abused by church leaders and members. This is compared to the approximately 228 “credible accusations” a year of child sexual abuse reported by the Catholic Church. (Both numbers are much higher due to underreporting and the manner in which such information is collected and determined – that is another blog for another day.) In reality, the likelihood is that more children are sexually abused in Protestant churches than in Catholic churches. Regardless, the abuse of one child is one child too many. Instead of pointing fingers, we should be learning from each other and working together to bring an end to this epidemic that permeates all of Christendom. In order to do this, Protestants are going to have to accept the fact that we have many more similarities than differences with our Catholic brothers and sisters when it comes to how we have failed to protect and serve God’s children. Here are just three that surfaced in “Spotlight”:

Clergy who abuse: “When you’re a poor kid from a poor family and when a priest pays attention to you, it’s a big deal. How do you say ‘no’ to God?”

These were the gut-wrenching words of Phil Saviano, a clergy abuse survivor (and member of SNAP) who was attempting to describe the dark dynamics of how his nightmare began. In a later scene, another survivor explains, “He offered to get me ice cream. It’s a priest. I’m a kid. So I go.”

The case of "Spotlight" - courtesy of Open Road Films

The case of “Spotlight” – courtesy of Open Road Films

The evil perpetrated by those who use their religious cover to access and abuse children is alive and well in Protestantism. My friend Christa Brown, who was sexually abused by her Baptist youth pastor, writes, “Eddie [pastor] always said that God had chosen me for something special. I guess I really wanted to believe that. Doesn’t every kid want to think they’re special? Besides, who was I to question a man of God? It wasn’t my place.” The sinister reality is that sex offenders who hold positions of authority while carrying Bibles and quoting scripture are treacherous, regardless of whether they are called priest, pastor, or reverend. It’s not just a Catholic problem.

Protecting Reputations: Much of “Spotlight” focuses on the inordinate and distorted efforts taken by the Boston Archdiocese to protect its own reputation from the horrors being perpetrated by its priests.  In most cases, the Church accomplished this by moving offending priests and silencing victims. Abusing priests were either transferred to new parishes or temporarily removed under the guise of “sick leave” and sent to live with other offending priests in homes located throughout Boston (many located in neighborhoods with unsuspecting children). Prior to the exposure of these crimes and cover-ups, victims were systematically coerced into silence by false assurances, small sums of cash, confidentiality agreements, and lots of guilt and shame.

As I watched this all unfold on the screen, I couldn’t help but recall the countless cases I have encountered in Protestant circles where offending pastors, missionaries, and other leaders have been reassigned or allowed to quietly resign all in an effort to insulate the institution. The youth pastor who rapes a child and is transferred to a new church and given a going away party; the pedophile missionary physician who is quietly sent home from the mission field; the church volunteer who admits to sexually abusing a child and is simply directed by the church leadership to move quietly to another state. The list could go on and on. It’s not just a Catholic problem.

In addition to quietly moving or reassigning offenders, many Protestant institutions are no less savvy than the Boston Archdiocese in using money, shame, and guilt to influence survivors and their families to remain silent. The missionary child who is made to sign a “confession” for her responsibility in being repeatedly sexually abused by an adult missionary; the pastor who spends his days attempting to shame and threaten a sexual abuse survivor who speaks up about how the church failed to properly respond to her abuse disclosure; the ministry that exploits the poverty of victims by giving them a pittance of money in exchange for waivers and confidentiality agreements. The list could go on and on. It’s not just a Catholic problem.

Silent Bystanders: Another disturbing truth that surfaced in “Spotlight” was the deafening silence that surrounded the sexual abuse of children that had permeated inside the Church in epidemic proportions. A silence usually fueled by wanting to protect friendships and reputations. For example, a friend of Archbishop Bernard Law admonished one of the reporters to remember all the “good” the Archbishop had done when considering whether to expose his complicity in protecting pedophile priests. Sometimes the silence seemed fueled by deliberate ignorance. A powerful scene in the film was when one of the reporters attended a Catholic charity event shortly after an emotional interview with a victim. He finds himself amongst Catholics who are celebrating the good deeds of the Church and seem oblivious to the countless numbers of lives that had been silently eviscerated by that same Church. The gala was a picture of a modern day gathering of Priests and Levites celebrating their great “religious” accomplishments, all the while stepping over those dying in their midst. Too many  chose to simply look the other way.

That same deadly silence permeates inside many Protestant institutions. For example, many Protestant leaders who aren’t shy about speaking out on a wide variety of spiritual and cultural issues will often refuse to speak out against specific cases of child sexual abuse. They defend such silence by claiming something like, “We don’t know all the facts and don’t want to tarnish the reputation of someone who has done so much good.” Tragically, what often seems to be the real reason behind such silence is a fear of losing friendships, speaking engagements, book contracts, and other types of “influence”. It’s not just a Catholic problem.

Silence is not just limited to leaders. Just like in the Catholic Church, too many within Protestant congregations prefer to remain ignorant on the prevalence of child abuse within our churches, organizations, and mission fields. We consume ourselves with evangelism programs, pro-life activities, and other good causes, all the while ignoring the blatant reality that children and adult survivors are suffering in our midst. We convince ourselves that being ignorant gives us the excuse to be silent. Such toxic silence makes us complicit in this wickedness by placing children at risk, re-traumatizing survivors, and emboldening offenders. It’s not just a Catholic problem.

I want to end on a more positive note.  In recent years,  I have encountered more and more Protestants who are opening their eyes to the realities of child sexual abuse within our churches and beginning to acknowledge the urgent need to something about it. My prayer is that films like “Spotlight” will help enable us to move beyond vague platitudes and empty actions. Perhaps, we can start by acknowledging our failures and begin seeking ways to live out real repentance to the many precious lives lying beaten and wounded in our midst.

A start many have been waiting a very long time for, including Jesus.

  • “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.” This was my favorite line from the film because it so succinctly describes the devastating harm of group and institutional denial. Almost every clergy abuse survivor with whom I have spoken — mostly those from Baptist churches — has talked more about the nightmare of so many others’ do-nothingness rather than about the abuse itself. The silence and complicity of the many is what often winds up doing even greater harm than the dastardly deeds of the one.

    Thank you for your work, Boz. Your words are spot-on. I’m proud to be called a “friend.”

  • Steve Boyett

    Boz,
    Excellent post as usual! Is this film in theaters?

  • ChipG

    Steve Boyett, it is out pretty widely in my area. You could check rottentomatoes.com for local theaters/showtimes.

  • Boz and Christa, thank you. When I feel alone in this, I think of y’all. You know. And a huge thank you to the wonderful people of SNAP.

  • Steve Boyett

    Thank you!

  • chris

    this article made me thankful that I no longer attend or want anything to do with any church or religion.
    I can follow JC without the BS that goes on between religions and leaders.
    Maybe you all can work with lawmakers to remove the statute of limitations child sex abuse.. as that is what the roman catholic church uses to keep itself from being accountable.. for child rape..

  • john mccormick

    It’s MUCH worse in the Catholic church. In Boston, as the movie shows, at least 18% (yep, eighteen) of priests were known pedophiles. In the rest of the US, it was at least 6-10%. No other institution is close.

    Also, in the Catholic church, it was organized crime. Protestant churches didn’t have a worldwide philosophy of forgiving the confessed pedo, then letting him free to rape more children, in brutal defiance of Jesus (Matt 18:6-14)

  • john mccormick

    Also, in Protestant churches, most cases were voluntary sex with much older children, where they thought they were in love with their pastor. Most were also legal, since the age of consent in some states is lower than 17.

    In the Catholic church, most were altar boys, since those are the kids that were easiest for priests to get their hands on. According to the John Jay report, 51% were between 11 and 14, and 22% were younger than that.

    Catholics will try to use misleading statistics to say it is just as bad elsewhere. It’s nowhere near as bad elsewhere, and it’s not “church policy” elsewhere, and hopefully this movie will also help crush those misleading stats.

  • Fr. Bryan

    I saw the movie spotlight and while it was difficult for me to watch, it was good to see it. I know most of my priest friends have seen it or plan to see it soon. I think that you are wise to suggest your readers watch with “humility that enables us to be slow in pointing the finger at others, and quick to the difficult and sobering task of self-examination.” There were so many aspects of the film that all institutions – secular and ecclesial – need to reflect on if they hope to keep children safe. Thank you for the thoughtful post.

  • Fr. Bryan

    That line struck me as well. If it takes a village to abuse a child, it also takes a village to protect a child. The role of protecting children in a Church is the responsibility of every member in that Church, beginning with the pastoral leadership. As a Catholic priest, I’m very hopeful that the steps we have taken are working towards this end. The idea behind our safe environment programs is that we train everyone who is around children to recognize the behaviors of predators. This is a work in progress but a work that is important for us all to be a part of, both in the Church and in society as a whole.

  • Fr. Bryan

    Acknowledging the crimes that occured, what do want and expect from Catholic priests like me moving forward?

  • Frank

    In one case Boz states that there’s 260 cases related to Protestant churches yet only 228 “credible accusations”. Why are you qualifying the RCC accusations? And why are they in quotes? Are we supposed to doubt them somehow? But I’ll give the benefit of doubt here and say they are actual figures. The real question is this – What were the figures before the Catholic church was exposed? The spotlight was put on after the reputation was tarnished. I’m sure there was cleaning house and better systems in place to prevent this from happening again. I would argue the reason that there’s less “credible accusations” as you put it, is not because God has lead the RCC to move in the right direction – simply that they got caught.

  • Oscar

    I had the misfortune to grow up in a protestant fundamental mission. At the boarding school there were about 20 houses. Six of the men in my sojourn in this cultish group were know sex offenders.
    None of their victims voluntarily consented to being raped or molested. We were manipulated into keeping silent by threats against our families and the souls of the native population were also used as a pawn in the perverted scandal.
    The mission concerned has covered up it’s offenders and fights tooth and nail to stall legal action taken against it.
    It was a childhood where other Christian organisations (such as the Catholic Church) were held up as having sex offenders within, but of the ones we had not a whisper.

  • Oscar

    I admire your courage.

    As someone who knows first hand what abuse is like in a religious setting, what most of us would like is for paedophiles to be turned in. For churches to demand that legislation is adequate to retrospectively convict offenders wherever they have offended, no matter what rank they hold within their organisations.
    Churches who are found to be protecting offenders should have their charity status removed and those involved in cover ups incarcerated.

    Only when a strong message that abuse will no longer be tolerated is delivered, will we have any hope of reducing the rates of abuse.

  • Pingback: A Spotlight on Abuse | Spiritual Sounding Board()

  • Lori

    Boz,
    Thank you for keeping the spotlight on survivors. Spotlight is a powerful movie and I hope members of TGC/T4G, and leaders like Moehler, Dever, Duncan, and Piper take the time to see it and reevaluate their support of CJ Mahaney/Sovereign Grace Ministries.

  • Rhonda

    I do pray that God will use this movie to expose abuse (of all sorts). I pray that victims will find healing and that abusers will be punished. I pray that those who have known about the abuse and have covered it up will be convicted, repent, and come forward to defend the victims.

    Having said that, I wish that those who do have first-hand knowledge of abuse could understand that my personal ignorance of this issue is not meant to be a slap in the victim’s face. I have personally known of only three people in my life who were sexually abused. All were victimized by their mother’s boyfriend or new husband.

    When you characterize my love for my church (Protestant) as hypocritical while I “step over those dying” and “look the other way” it angers me. How can I know what I do not know? I will join you in prayer that these dark deeds will be brought into the light, but please do not lump all believers into a group of people who know about abuse and choose to let it…

  • Raz

    “In Protestant churches, most cases were voluntary sex with much older children, where they thought they were in love with their pastor. Most were also legal,”

    John, this generalization is very hurtful to those of us who know of many, many cases of involuntary sex within Protestant religious circles, where those in “ministry” were violating children – children! – of both sexes, younger than 13.

    Perhaps you could say, “most cases I have heard about …”, but just because you are not aware of the many cases of pedophilia perpetrated by “ministers of the gospel”, don’t think it hasn’t happened. Over and over again.

    Many commenters here seem to be trying to stick up for the Protestant church, and make a point of proving the Catholic church is worse. Count yourself fortunate that, unlike Boz, you have not had your heart broken over and over as you met multiple Protestant victims and listened to their stories.

    There are some of us who know exactly what Boz is talking…

  • Thank you so very much for this article. Not too many years ago I thanked God everyday that I was not Catholic and had been abused by a Catholic Priest. I was happy that my church was Assemblies of God and later was independent and not affiliated with any organised religion. I thought I was safe from abuse. Sadly, in my late 30’s I began to have recovered memories of my pastor abusing me. He told me that he was going to be my father-in-proxy as I had lost my father a few years earlier. You are correct that in protestant churches this is way more prevalent than is being reported because we have no place or organisation to turn to, not only to report but for support as well. I feel alone and abandoned by all churches both protestant and catholic alike because CSA is not being addressed anywhere in the church.

    iamnotbubba
    http://www.perpetuallyhealing.com

  • Tom

    Dear Iamnotbubba, I’m a ‘recovered memories’ skeptic, which is not to say I think all such claims are false. But to keep me on board here, can you say if you were able to corroborate your abuse memories – and how? That would help.

  • Pingback: Linkathon!PhoenixPreacher | PhoenixPreacher()

  • john mccormick

    Raz,

    I’m truly sorry if it was hurtful. I certainly didn’t mean to hurt any victims of child rape. In my opinion, every pedophile of every type should be thrown in the ocean with a rock around their neck. By the way, this was also Jesus’ opinion (Matt 18:6).

    I HAVE had my heart broken speaking to many victims from the Catholic church. I know the struggle very well.

    Here’s my motivation:

    My point is that is MUCH worse in the Catholic church, and Catholics are tying to convince their followers that it is not, and that organized pedophilia is just as common everywhere else, and that the Catholic church is now a victim.

    The true number are that 18% of Catholc priests in Boston were child sex offenders based on actual accusations, not estimates or extrapolations. In the John Jay report of 2004, there were 4,392 accused priests, which was 4% of the total over a 52 year period. There were about 16,000 known victims, but you and I know the number is MUCH higher.

  • Ben in oakland

    This is an ancient problem for the church. It is in the Decameron and the Canterbury tales. You might want to read the writings of St. Peter Damien, who had a lot to say on this subject. There is also an excellent book called “fallen order”, by Karen liebreich. 400 years ago, and not in Boston.

  • Fr. Bryan

    John,

    How can you compare Catholic rates of abuse with evangelical protestant rates of abuse when there is no study like the John Jay study to compare? Could a study like the John Jary report even be generated for evangelical protestant Churches? I don’t think it could. Also, where are you seeing this 18% number?

  • Tom

    john, Like Fr. Bryan, I’m wondering about your numbers. Earlier you said 6-10% of priests were pedophiles. Here you cite the JJ report using 4%. (I won’t quibble over your definition of “pedophile”) The JJ report says they found a total of 10,666 victims. Is 16,000 the number used in the movie?

  • john mccormick

    Fr Bryan,

    There is no such Evangelical study because the problem has never been anywhere near as bad in any other institution, ever.

    It looks like you haven’t made any attempt to seek the truth, so I’ll tell you where the 18% number comes from. The Globe recently published a story documenting 271 Catholic pedophiles, but 3 of them were nuns.

    Take the 268, divide by the 1,500 priests in Boston (a stat that was in the movie), and you get 18%, At the end of the movie, the stat given is 249.

  • john mccormick

    Catholics always minimize the problem, lying on the low end, so they use the John Jay report of 2004, showing 4% were pedophiles (colloquially meaning child rapists). I know that many were ehebophiles, and Catholics love to use that name to confuse the congregation. Calling them child rapists is fine.

    The Catholic church produced a report called the Schuth report in 2013 that got less publicity, so they hide the truth, but it is very available online (and since I’m sure you’ll say it’s an anti-Catholic propoganda, it’s on the USCCB site).

    In that report, there were 6,630 pedo-priests. The report does not make it clear whether there was overlap. Therefore, the number was between 4,392 and (4,392+6,630). Divide that 11,000 by 100,000 priests and you get 11%.

    Regardless, no institution in US history has had more than 1% actual accusations. Catholics will say it’s as bad everywhere, and use estimates & guesses to compare with other institutions, intentionally…

  • Tom

    john; 4,392+ 6,630?! Please explain. Why are you adding these two together? That just makes no sense at all. I’m not Catholic, nor am I unwilling to believe well documented numbers, but your math is seriously undermining your position here.

  • Yes, although I have not spoken face to face with any of the other survivors, the newspaper articles published in the Longmont daily times call match my memories. Please read my story entitled “core issue.”

    I do understand your skeptism, yet, since the 80’s there has been protocols put in place to ensure the memories are not false. There has been much published on this. My memories are real.

    Iamnotbubba
    http://Www.perpetuallyhealing.com

  • Tom

    Interesting. Every case is convoluted, but I’d call this sort of “classic.” It concerns me that you never followed up with other. The APA’s protocol is to insist on corroboration – might be a good idea to talk/w others. Did your therapist ever help you with memory retrieval?

  • No, I never followed up because I don’t know any of the other survivors. I’m not sure if there would be a benefit to that. My counselors never did any memory retrieval. That all came out on their own.

    Thank you so much for reading my stories.

    Iamnotbubba
    http://Www.perpetuallyhealing.com

  • Ashley Nevins

    It started in the late 80’s by a grass roots movement. It is now a paradigm shift impacting many Protestant evangelical churches in a open and transparent fashion. It deals with issues of addiction and abuse. Its primary focus is to face and deal with the issues of denial, hiding and shame that drives most of the serious issues people struggle with.

    The future paradigm of the evangelical church to become a healing, support and recovery model of church of freedom In Christ transparency and accountability.

    The two most seen models of it are Celebrate Recovery and Redemption groups of the Acts 29 model of church.

    The issues of sex abuse and sex addiction are openly dealt with in these models of church and/or ministry. Coordination with Christian counselors who specialize in trauma, abuse and addiction takes place in these ministries.

    I see no paradigm shifting ministries like this in either the systemically corrupt and shame based hierarchical authoritarian RCC or EOC in…

  • Bev

    this statement is very deceptive and misleading: BOQ…most cases were voluntary sex with much older children… EOQ

    pastors/leaders/teachers having sex with children is NEVER voluntary for the child (let alone it’s a crime, even the world recognizes this is never OK, including viewing, etc. any child porn is a crime, thank God)… it is ALWAYS abuse of power by the spiritual leader… even if the child thinks they love the leader, it is manipulation and grooming by the leader, and/or the leader is the one who should know better and use boundaries. it is abuse on so many levels. sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, and abuse of power! I thank God that He is exposing these evils of abuse in His bride, His Kingdom Church.

  • john mccormick

    Tom, since you obviously have no interest in “seeking the truth”, which is easy to do with the specific numbers I gave, I’ll spell it out.

    The John Jay report with the 4,392 was in 2004. The Schuth report with the 6,630 was from 2013, and covered 2004-2013. Therefore, I added them, since they were from different time windows, but made clear that I didn’t see anything that commented on overlap.

  • john mccormick

    No one is going to watch with “humility that enables us to be slow in pointing the finger at others”, unless they think they’d protect pedophiles.

    People should watch the movie while asking at every turn, “What would Jesus do”, and “What would God’s church do” as they watch while the Catholic church

    – commits rampant child rape (with 18% of Boston priests)
    – hides 100% of the pedophile priests
    – hides the truth
    – lies
    – intimidates child victims
    – intimidates parents
    – uses their power and massive money to block the truth
    – uses their power to get away with rampant, organized child rape

    By the end of the movie, when the movie shows hundreds of cities where this occurred, people can ask if “God’s church” would do any of this, and double down on evil, at all levels, at every turn.

  • john mccormick

    Good job deflecting blame. Very much like the Catholic church does.

    The Catholic church is to blame, period, and viewers will see this.

    The Catholic church KNEW about their rampant child rape. Everyone else was speculating.

    The problem with Catholic followers is that they were ignorant enough to believe and trust the Catholic church. Thanks to the Boston Globe and some very tough survivors, no intelligent person will trust the Catholic church in the future, and new generations will see the movie and see the truth about the Catholic church, doubling down on evil at every opportunity.

    This is the decade where the Catholic church will brag that “we don’t rape as many children as we used to because we now teach our priests that raping children is wrong”.

    Future generations will scoff at how older Catholics fell for this logic, and how a true Christian church would have made every effort to punish every pedophile and find every victim, as Jesus would (Matt 18:6-14).

  • john mccormick

    We expect that you will continue what you have been doing – which is the opposite of What Jesus Would Do (Matt 18:6-14).

    What you SHOULD have done is obvious to anyone with a person relationship with Jesus, or a personal relationship with honesty and integrity:

    – punish every single pedophile (Matt 18:6-14)
    – find and help every victim (Matt 18:10-14)
    – don’t lie (“bear false witness”)
    – don’t have false gods (signing an oath to follow bishops that brutally defy Jesus)

    If a priest had a backbone, he’s do What Jesus Would Do, and REALLY stand up about this, telling the world that the church has to punish every pedo and find every victim. Richard Sipe, Tom Doyle, and a handful of other priests did this. They are truly men of God.

    The rest of you are just “good Germans”, as the movie said.

  • Thank you, Christa.

  • Thank you, Steve! Yes, should be in a theater near you. I highly recommend it.

  • Thank you for your wise and encouraging words, Oscar.

  • John – I don’t know where you are getting your information regarding “in Protestant churches, most cases were voluntary sex with much older children..” That information is simply not accurate. My point is that the sexual abuse of one child is one child too many. My hope is that we will spend less time comparing and more time acknowledging the prevalence of this evil in all faith communities and that it must stop. I join you in your hopes that this film will crush the misleading stats being spread by those who want to minimize the complicity of the church.

  • Thank you for your words and honest reflection. We all still have a long way to go.

  • The quotes were taken directly from the New York Times article. I guess that is what the RCC has acknowledged. That is why I emphasized the fact that these numbers are most assuredly much higher…sadly.

  • john mccormick

    God is certainly exposing the rampant child rape of the Catholic church, and the coverup, lying, and abuse of power.

    And the Catholic church has been fighting God every step of the way.

    The difference in your opinion and mine is that you think this is the behavior of “God’s church” instead of an obviously evil one, and you will use every excuse to let them get away with it, showing your opinion of God.

    According to Jesus, He is present at every Christian church, although Catholics ignore Matthew 18:20 and claim to be the “one true” church. The ONLY link the Catholic church has to Jesus is a physical one, not a spiritual one, and that is a series of popes. Of course, Jesus never said anything about popes or a hierarchy, et cetera. Spiritually, the Catholic church brutally defies Jesus, with their filthy riches, ignoring the starving, and running the western world’s largest organized childrape crime syndicate.

  • Rhonda – Thank you for your feedback. One in four women and one in six men have been sexually abused. My guess is that you’ve probably known many more than three people who were sexually abused. They just didn’t tell you. That is the great tragedy of this evil…the silence. Most victims are silenced because they have been shamed into it. It’s a silence that destroys lives and emboldens abusers. Knowing this, we all need to do a better job keeping our eyes and ears open so that we can serve those who are suffering and stop those who are abusing. Appreciate your willingness to commit this to prayer.

  • john mccormick

    Let’s agree on one thing – any church that collectively, brutally defies Jesus, who said that childrape was unforgivable, and you should find and help every victim (Matt 18:6-14) is not “God’s church”.

  • Thank you for your words, my friend.

  • Agreed! Thank you.

  • Thanks, Amy!

  • Tom

    john, Here is the relevant statement from the Schuth report in 2013: “…all except 217 occurred before 2004.” So, apparently the best count in 2013 is 6,630. This includes the original tally by the JJ people, new allegations of historic abuse, and current abuse. Did I get that right?

  • john mccormick

    No, and this is where it is vague, and when the Catholic church is vague, they’re hiding something.

    There is vagueness in terms of

    – when the childrape occurred
    – when the childrape was reported
    – if the pedo was a repeat offender
    – if it was a newly discovered pedo

    The 6,630 counts pedo-priests discovered AFTER 2004, which is AFTER the John Jay report which showed 4,392.

    “all except 217 occurred before 2004” means the CHILDRAPES happened before 2004, but weren’t in the JJ report because they hadn’t been reported until after 2004.

    Therefore, the count is 4,392 plus 6,630 minus that pedos that overlapped, but got more accusations from childrapes before 2004.

    If the 6,630 were all new pedos, that would mean about 11,000 pedos out of 100,000 priests, or about 10%, which is closer to the 18% number from Spotlight.

    It’s vague and confusing, but did I explain that well?

  • Barbara Parker

    I grew up in India, the daughter of missionaries and went to a boarding school for missionary children from the age of 7. I saw Spotlight recently. Never was I aware of, nor did it ever occur to me, that the same thing might have happened to some of my fellow missionary boarding school classmates. I am in touch with my classmates and will certainly ask what they might have known or experienced now that I am aware of the possibility.

    My father eventually became executive director of our church mission work in India. (I was an adult then.) He and I had brief conversations about the fact that homosexuality and pedophilia were an (occasional?) problem in boarding schools for Indian children and he had no training or education about these issues although the problems were ‘kicked up’ to him to deal with. Ironically, he read an article from my MS magazine about the subject and said it was helpful to him.

  • Several people have asked about the data comparing 260 reports per year of minors abused in Protestant churches to 228 “credible accusations” per year of minors abused in Catholic dioceses. So, I’m providing these links where you can read more about the data. The 228 figure came from the John Jay study, which used abuse reports made within the various dioceses. Catholic canon law requires record-keeping, and so there was an internal document trail of sorts. The 260 figure came from reports made by Protestant churches to their insurance companies (probably when churches thought a lawsuit was imminent), and this Protestant data was obtained through the extraordinary work of journalist Rose French working for the Associated Press. Both numbers are the product of underreporting. Links: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2007/06/18/80877.htm
    http://www.ethicsdaily.com/news.php?viewStory=9149
    http://stopbaptistpredators.org/article07/abuse_data_in_protestant_churches.html

  • Pingback: Watching Spotlight Through Protestant Eyes - Missio Alliance()

  • Elpirata Cofresi

    An excellent question. Glad you asked. Got your pen and note-pad ready? Good. Let’s get started.

    1. Recognition. The more you minimize, the more you assert that “this was all in the past,” the more you mention the Church’s “learning curve,” the more you deprive appalled parishioners out of the pews, and revictimize those who experienced this. What happened was a catastrophe.

    2. Remembrance. What can you do to honor the memory of the human casualties? (Hint: an annual foot-washing service of “healing” is more an insult than anything else.)

    3. Outreach. Do you really care about the spiritual welfare of those harmed in this way? If so, what are you doing to show it? What do they need from you and your brother priests? Are you interested in finding out?

    4. Education. Sexual violence ruins more lives than alcoholism, and you’ll find many of its victims in your own parish community. What do you know about it? How can you learn more? Are you willing to speak publicly…

  • Pingback: » Watching <i>Spotlight</i> Through Protestant Eyes()

  • Pingback: Powerful Movie - Must See for Child Protection - mallaidh.org()

  • Tom

    Anybody see Katharine Q. Seelyenyt’s NYT piece today (3/16) about Spotlight settling the lawsuit brought against them by Jack Dunn? From the article:

    “The makers of…”Spotlight” have acknowledged that they fictionalized dialogue attributed to Jack Dunn, a trustee of Boston College High School, who was portrayed in the film as being part of the cover-up of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal. In reality, Mr. Dunn sought to help victims of abuse and advocated for transparency in communications.”

    This is disappointing, but not unexpected. The problem is that it undermines everybody’s credibility. It probably won’t invalidate the overall impact of Spotlight, but it certainly taints it.

  • It doesn’t destroy any credibility.

    The important thing is that Spotlight proved that the Catholic church hid at least 271 pedophile priests in Boston alone, running the largest city-wide organized child rape crime ring in US history, and eventually exposing the Catholic church as also running the largest organized child rape crime ring in the country and the western world.

  • Pingback: Watching Spotlight Through Protestant Eyes | Carolyn Custis James()

  • Tom

    The Spotlight sensation left me uncomfortable because it ignored the elephant of repressed memories unattended. Apparently I’m not alone. A few brave journalists aren’t afraid to point out that Oscar is naked. Joann Wypijewski’s counterpoint in COUNTERPUNCH (Feb 29) is titled “Oscar Hangover Special: Why “Spotlight” Is a Terrible Film.” The movie’s mischaracterization of Jack Dunn is only the tip of the iceberg, and the problem is not so much Hollywood as the sad state of American investigative journalism. A valuable read.

    And just to fan the flames a bit, Wypijewski starts her piece with the sentence, “I don’t believe the victims.”