Before the end of 2015 the film Spotlight was released but seemingly went unnoticed by the popular audience. This film recalls a play-by-play account of the uncovering of the pedophile ring in the Roman Catholic Church, specifically in the Boston area, but outreaching to the entire world. The importance of this film goes without question. I am not interested in providing a summary or review, because there are various media sources for such a purpose. Rather, it is important to raise the crisis of physical (including sexual) and spiritual abuse among religious communities. For the community on ubfriends we are familiar with these issues and we are not afraid to speak up. In fact, anyone who has participated in any New Religious Movement (NRM) is also familiar with the fact that outlets for exposure are limited and once inside even family is distanced or even removed and replaced altogether.
I believe we can look at a number of points that this film addresses.
- Everyone knows, everyone is silent. The Catholic Church is the history, foundation and pillar for much of the Western world. Loyalty from the people remains with the priests, bishops, cardinals and the Pope himself. Although the media (journalists/reporters) often get in the way and actually create speculation and rhetoric when there is something that occurs, this topic was very different and handled with caution and respect. The media, through the efforts of one team, managed to uncover and publish the systematic abuse and cover ups after overcoming a lot of resistance from loyalists determined to keep the status quo.
- Journalistic integrity and willingness to risk personal reputation and future prosperity. In all of the pursuits to get to the heart of the story – 1 priest, 13 priests…..90 priests! Each team member pushed and pushed without losing sight of the goal to uncover the system of abuse. Each team member put personal relationships on the line in order to bring the story to the people and in turn bring about justice.
- Areas of professional cover ups and keeping the status quo for the church. On the inside the church moved priests guilty of sexual abuse around after 2-3 years giving a number of reasons as retold in the film. One priest depicted in the film gave a sense of normalcy to the occurrence, stating no pleasure for it and that it was not rape. The same priest declared he himself had been raped – leaving more questions for those who are less familiar with fine details of the reporting. Lawyers worked off the record within the realm of the Catholic Church and its internal processes and administration in order to come to a settlement with the victims. With this legal omission of action no paper trail could be found.
It might be noted that the historic initiative from the newspaper in Boston came from a change in editor who desired to get things back on track. Good business….yes! But more importantly articles and reporting that would speak to the community. The community of Boston historically has an enormous Catholic heritage and population. Such people lived in silence – enabling the systematic abuse of power and cover ups.
There is so much more I could discuss, but this is not a review of the film, nor is it a historic reflection. Of course it is 2016 and so much dirt was uncovered years ago, but that does not mean it has been resolved. How about you? Did you come from a church? Which church (denomination)? Has there ever been a systematic problem that you know of? How have you handled it, knowing that the established churches pose the same issues addressed in the film?
For anyone who has been a part of UBF please share your input even if it is for the 100th time. UBF is a cult and does not have the same level of protection from society. However, because of this, it leaves each individual more responsible for everything that they have consented to. Regardless, it is more important that UBF (the system) becomes accountable for abuses rather than the people who allowed it to happen to them. There comes a time when a victim can call themselves stupid but the accountability and responsibility must come from top leadership itself.