Monday, July 11, 2016

Spotlight (2015)

I watched this film a few nights ago.  It's about the Boston Globe reporters who broke one of the biggest scandals of recent times: the widespread sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Boston, and the archbishop's part in covering up the extent of these problems, paying hush money to victims with the assistance of lawyers who did their part to keep this monstrous set of crimes secret and one lawyer who went as far as he could in helping the reporters to uncover it.

To my disappointment, the film fails to report on the fact that the victims were almost entirely male.  To the film's credit they show one of the abusers admitting it but claiming he got no pleasure from it, and admitting he had been raped as a child by a priest.  The connection between child sexual abuse and non-heterosexuality of course is outside the scope of the film, but I do not find it surprising that the first state to impose same-sex marriage was Massachusetts, and many of the other first adopters were also heavily Catholic.

Father Shanley is mentioned, but not his presence at the event that led to organization of the North American Man-Boy Love Association.
The Archdiocese of Boston knew that one of its priests, now accused of rape, spoke in favor of sex between men and boys at a 1979 meeting that apparently led to the founding of a national group advocating the practice, according to court documents released Monday.
The documents also show that archdiocese officials knew of sexual misconduct allegations against the priest, the Rev. Paul Shanley, since at least 1967, but continued to give him access to children in different parishes for three decades.
The documents also show that Vatican officials had been told as early as 1979 about Shanley's teachings on homosexuality. He continued to serve as a parish priest for several years after that.
"All of the suffering that has taken place at the hands of Paul Shanley, a serial child molester for four decades — three of them in Boston — none of it had to happen," said Roderick MacLeish, an attorney for the family of alleged abuse victim Gregory Ford, 24.
To be fair, the Church for many years fantasized that therapy could reform these child molesting priests.  But at a certain point, reality would have set in if not for the domination of the Vatican bureaucracy by gay clergy.


  1. Reality did set in, strongly. If you put yourself back into the '70s, child abuse was not the big deal it is today - it was mostly unmentioned because few knew that it happened. I'm glad you alluded to this this, society in those years was in a cult of psychology, where therapy could solve anything, and all psychological problems were malleable and a result of one's past. This, combined with the Church's theological belief in the power of healing, certainly misled Church leaders in their "treatment" of molesters. Of course, they knew that theological healing was not guaranteed. They knew less about the limitations of psychology, which turned out to be more of a cult than anything else.

    The church is an old institution and changes slowly. And, like any church, it's leaders are human and sinners. There is no doubt that some actions be leaders were simply and totally very wrong, but that was not typical of the entire Church, contrary to what the media would have you believe. There have even been a few terrible popes.

    But, the Church has taken the brunt for a child sexual abuse scandal that is far larger outside the Church.

    That is not an accident. The Church stands for things that the mainstream media are against - morality, in other words. So, destroying the Church has been an important goal of the left (and thus the media) for a long time. The US Church also had a "purple mafia" that grew up in some west coast seminaries, an underground group of homosexual priests who convinced themselves that homosexual acts were okay with scripture. It was this sort of thing that led the Church to finally ban homosexuals from entering the priesthood, although there are still plenty in the priesthood who serve well and faithfully. Not all homosexuals fell to temptation.

  2. BTW, I don't think it was the gays at the Vatican that were responsible for the problems in the US. The Vatican has a lot less power than people imagine. I think it was the factors mentioned before - not a conspiracy, but just a number of priests behaving badly, and some leaders doing the wrong thing either out of their own selfishness or because they truly believed that therapy and the Church's rehabilitation programs would actually work. Of course, the latter makes it easy for a leader to get out of doing what is right, so it is hard to know the relative weight of the two factors in any particular case.

  3. I remember when the extent of abuse became visible in the 1970s and everyone was shocked at how common it was. When I lived in Sonoma County, one pedophile priest kept safe by blackmailing the bishop. He had proof the bishop was embezzling church funds.