Spotlight

I went to see the film “Spotlight” today. It’s about the investigation by the Spotlight team of the Boston Globe newspaper into sexual abuse of children by priests in Boston, which was published in 2002, and about how the diocese had handled cases over many years. The journalistic investigation is very well portrayed.
I have no expertise in judging films, but it seemed to me a very well-made film with excellent acting, and effective communication of the story. For me, the first half of the film conveys the sense of shock at the abuse, and that it was committed by priests. It also conveys the sense of abandonment of an abused man at being let down not just by the church, but also by the media and the justice system. In the second half of the film, the very use of the word “priests” became an accusation. For me it felt personal.
I do not know how historically accurately the film presents what happened, nor to what extent artistic licence is used. It seems to me a film worth seeing.
I would also keep in mind what the film does not portray. The Editor of The Tablet, in the current issue, takes issue with a claim that the Boston Globe was the first to break the code on this matter; she lists other publications which were earlier on the abuse problem.
The film portrays the handling of allegations by the diocese as entirely corrupt and obstructive. And yet the film refers to “treatment centers” for abusing priests. There is no indication of the extent treatment was provided for abusers; nor of any psychological or psychiatric advice given to the diocese about the advisability or otherwise of reassigning a priest who had abused; nor of how legal advisors to the diocese dealt with the matters. Dublin diocese certainly sought such advice before reassigning priests, although it got little credit for this in the Murphy Report. It may be that Boston diocese acted entirely corruptly, but we cannot tell from this film.
The film tells us nothing of how society, and other major organisations, would deal with allegations of abuse at the time. A report (available on line) for the US government in 2004, “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature”, carried out by Charol Shakeshaft of Hofstra University, tells us: “In an early study of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York, all of the accused had admitted to sexual abuse of a student but none of the abusers was reported to authorities and only 1 percent lost their license to teach (Shakeshaft and Cohan, 1994).”
What we see today as disastrous failure to deal with allegations appears to have been the societal norm at the time. Was there such thing as “best practice” at the time? CBS News in 2006 (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/has-media-ignored-sex-abuse-in-school/) quoted Ms Shakeshaft: “[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem? The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”
The story told in the film is indeed shocking. I hope we continue to learn. It would be a serious mistake to go away with the idea that the Catholic Church is the only or the prime example. We have seen many instances of health services in Ireland appearing to be in total denial of where they have gone wrong, forcing families and individuals to resort to court action to discover the truth.
A horrified reaction is understandable. If we are to learn from a film like “Spotlight”, we must learn to see the wider context of society, and the historical context of the time. Our community responses and the investigations by our justice systems need to avoid being driven by moral panic. Rather, they must be based on verified facts and clear thinking about the full context. This is how we can find the way forward.
 
Pádraig McCarthy

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46 Comments

  1. Eddie !!, that was an awful outburst! I have never before been accused of being PC and now, suddenly, to be accused of being a ” disturbingly, disquieting PC fanatic!” was quite a shock to the system. I nearly didn’t get to sleep last night. Good alliteration though ….
    Seriously, though, Eddie you are surely not labelling all of us thus, who have recently opposed the view of the clergy — or at least the three or four priests who take every opportunity to have a go at the Murphy Commission — simply because we had the temerity to do so. If the laity had stood up to the clergy in times gone by we might not be in the deep hole that we now find ourselves in. And, surely, when you are in a deep hole it makes sense to stop digging.
    In this weeks Tablet, Prof. John Picton, in his letter “Protecting children” writes that ” At a time when the Church has lost the imagination of it’s people ( how else does one explain the fact that a mere 15% of baptised Catholics in the UK attend Sunday Mass with any regularity) the bishops must understand that the abuse crisis has to be faced and examined with complete openness, honesty and accountability”. I would have thought all of that was a no-brainer though I would have added the words humility and contrition too. However, to have to say that — how many years after the scandal first broke?— beggars belief.
    A man I do admire and respect is Bishop Moriarity who said when he retired in December 2009 “The truth is that the long struggle of survivors to be heard and respected by church authorities has revealed a culture within the Church that many would simply describe as unchristian. I accept that from the time I became an Auxiliary Bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.” Now that is a man accepting his responsibility. Fr.Tom Doyle has frequently written on that same culture and he had the ideal vantage point from which to observe it. ( Thanks, Kevin, for sharing that recent quote from Fr. Doyle. It was a timely reminder). I do think it is truly amazing that we are still having this kind of discourse all these years after the scandal entered into our consciousness.
    And Brendan, it is not about sex. It is about the disbelief, then the confusion and finally the shock and the horror when those of us who had treated the priesthood with such respect and awe finally had to accept the reality of the sex abuse of children by priests.To help me deal with it I decided I had to understand why priests could do what they had done and so I spent most of my summer holidays a few years ago reading and studying Marie Kennan’s excellent book.
    I ended up with much sympathy for the men who had abused because, in some ways, they too are victims. Some of the men Marie Kennan had treated had, in their youth, the same guilt ridden nonsense in their heads that I also had a young fella but, luckily I did not have six years of seminary malformation to cement it all inside my skull. So, least anybody thinks I have it in for abuser priests, I don’t
    Eddie, I am honoured that you call me your friend. You were one of the reasons I found this ACP site to be such a blessing when I first discovered it.
    Sadly we don’t hear enough from you these days.
    To all our correspondents –pro-Murphy Commission and anti- Murphy Commission alike, I wish you goodnight.
    Paddy.

  2. Brendan Hoban 41
    It is less to do about sex than an abuse of power. Incomprehensible as the clergy can seem to the laity, we trusted them to act in an ethical manner. The laity feel betrayed by the hierarchy. We expected better from the church. When I heard about this 10 years ago I went into moral shock. if they can’t trust them with this why should we believe them when they tell us anything else. This is worse than 1968 when it occurred to a lot of the laity that the powers that be do not have our best interests at heart.

  3. Kevin Walters says:

    Eddie Finnegan@42
    Your quote from Padraig McCarthy
    Others may arrive at quite a different assessment of the Report. This I welcome. This is the debate we should be having, if we are to arrive at truth and reconciliation, at repentance and healing and forgiveness.
    Clare Hannigan@25
    “The observation in the film Spotlight which stood out for me was the idea that it takes a village to raise a child and a village to abuse a child. The film emphasises that the cover up of abuse was dependent on a network of people associated with the Catholic Church”
    Will anyone who understands this “Village Culture” or is part of this Culture (Network) of secrecy speak?
    How is this network (Circle) held together?
    How are the chosen , chosen to form this village?
    From the outside this network it appears to be held together by a Circle of worldly power
    All circles of worldly power rely on secrecy, this gives an advantage based on deception and serves the Evil One, he cannot be beaten at his own game, the early Christians used signs and gesture, but these can be duplicated, then we have duplicity and confusion at play, friend or foe you know longer know.
    Would Padraig McCarthy like to lead the debate we should be having, if we are to arrive at truth and reconciliation.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  4. Except Sexual Abuse is not about sex, it’s about serious crime .

  5. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Thanks Brendan@41, but watch out for those disturbingly disquieting PC fanatics who may well drag this raft of comments out to another 41 at least.
    Thanks, too, to Pádraig for attempting an eminently reasonable review of ‘Spotlight’. Apart from his book, which I haven’t read, I have followed Pádraig for just over six years since his, again, eminently rational, reasonable and necessary assessment of “The Murphy Report” (FURROW, February 2010). In all of those articles and his posts and comments on this site (to which I’ve returned and re-read with care over the past ten days) I see none of the ‘blind spot’ or ‘basic insensitivity’ or ‘not getting it’ that seem to have caused my friend, Paddy Ferry, to want to shut Pádraig up – not once or twice but at least three times.
    Pádraig ends that original Feb 2010 assessment of the Dublin Report with words that should be at the heart of any discussion on this site:
    “I have no monopoly of wisdom. Others may arrive at quite a different assessment of the Report. This I welcome. This is the debate we should be having, if we are to arrive at truth and reconciliation, at repentance and healing and forgiveness. In a word, Resurrection. But first, the Cross.”

  6. Brendan Hoban says:

    An important article on the future of the oceans attracted one response.
    An article on a film about sexual abuse has so far attracted 40.
    Who was it said it was Freud who was obsessed with sex?

  7. Padraig McCarthy says:

    Lloyd Allan MacPherson @37:
    “some of us proceed in the fog because that’s where it is most comforting.”
    That may sometimes be the case. But what Milan Kundera is writing of is where people cannot be aware of the fog; that fog is only recognised in hindsight. I must accept that as I live today, I see through a glass darkly, even though it may seem to be perfectly clear to me, since I know no better. I must not judge or condemn others where I do not know the fog in which they walk. To know that others will judge me is simply a fact of life. There is one who sees clearly; to that One I trust the judgment, knowing that it will be always in mercy, and, I’m sure, with a deep sense of humour!

  8. There are many references here to the 1962 Vatican document Crimen Solicitationis which was supposedly intended to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by clergy. (Obviously Pope John XXIII was not quite the hero we thought him to be.) The document became notorious in October 2006 when BBC’s Panorama broadcast a documentary “Sex Crimes and the Vatican” featuring Colm O’Gorman.
    One man who actually READ the document was the UK Independent journalist Thomas Sutcliffe who published the results of his investigation in The Independent in an article tellingly called “Poor Journalism Saves A Guilty Church“. It is most interesting because the author is obviously hostile to the Catholic Church but regards the allegations re “the Pope presiding over a deliberate policy of cover-up” as misguided (to put it mildly – and Mr. Sutcliffe is VERY keen to put it mildly!)
    http://www.irishsalem.com/individuals/accusers/colm-o-gorman/panorams-crimensolicitationis-oct06.php
    ……. As it happened I watched Panorama because, – in a grumbling, muttering, slightly knee-jerk way – I am hostile to the Catholic Church. So it was a surprising experience to find indignation at the impunity of some abusive priests mingling with a whispering disquiet at the editorial approach. ……
    The second doubt occurred when I actually read Crimen Solicitationis, the 1962 Vatican document which was summarised by one of Panorama’s interviewees as “an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy.” It took me close to an hour to get through it and at a rough guess, would take another 20 years to fully comprehend.
    An abstruse, legalistic document of headache-inducing opacity it lays out the procedures to be followed in the case of a specific ecclesiastical crime – solicitation or using the confessional to tempt a penitent towards impure speech or deeds.
    It is much preoccupied with secrecy. But much of this furtiveness seems to derive from the fact that the evidence and accusation occur under seal of the confessional, which must somehow be preserved through the subsequent investigation. Happy as I would have been to find hard evidence of a sinister cover up by the Vatican, it simply won’t bear the crude description, which, for the sake of journalistic brevity, Panorama gave it……
    [My emphasis]
    Personally I doubt if “journalistic brevity” really explains Panorama’s “crude description”!

  9. Crimen Sollicitationis seems to have been a dead letter, like not a few Vatican documents. The way it is handled in the media is quite unhistorical.

  10. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Sean, it always comes down to faulty management. I can relate. I’ve been trying to stir Laudato ‘si in the souls of a select few on my little heart shaped island in the east and I’m still not even sure if anyone even knows what Laudato ‘si is? This is what happens when the main focus of a bureaucracy becomes the preservation of the bureaucracy and not the culture it embraces. “Spotlight” shines brightly on this, albeit within a sub-culture of a few people dealing with the horrors of child abuse from the outside but even at its furthest recesses, the tangling web of passivity still clings to decision making. Padraig, some of us proceed in the fog because that’s where it is most comforting – short term decisions without too much foresight can still lead us off the edge of a cliff. Catholicism’s continual demise in the face of oppressive, short-sighted regimes is all our faults no matter how far some of us seem to be able to look ahead in the distance. The constant chatter prevents us from reaching our God-given potential. Couple this with the aspiration of a personally intimate, spiritual awakening, which without action, is sending us way of the dodo.

  11. #30, 32 – The Murphy Report Part 1 has a section beginning at 4.17 – ‘Procedural rules regarding child sexual abuse’ – which refers to Crimen Solicitationis (1922) and an updated version of that, dated 1962. The report remarks (4.21):
    “The main problem with these procedural rules was that virtually no
    one appears to have known anything about them – including the people who
    were supposed to implement them. It appears that both documents were
    circulated only to bishops and under terms of secrecy. Each document stated that it was to be kept in the secret archive to which only the bishop had access.”
    The report summarises its finding on the impact of canon law on the decisions of the Dublin diocesan officials in 1.15: “The Archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules.”
    The full Murphy Report can be accessed at:
    http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB09000504

  12. Padraig McCarthy says:

    Seán @ 31:
    When I wrote the original piece above, my intention was to draw attention to the Spotlight film, to draw attention also to the wider picture in which any such depiction must be seen, and to invite discussion. My concern has been for justice for everyone involved in the situations depicted.
    I had no intention of stirring anger or hurt for anyone. This, sadly, is what it seems to have done for Seán. For this I apologise. It seems I have not expressed myself clearly, since Seán draws conclusions from what I wrote which are in no way implied by what I wrote.
    I for my part have found it difficult to follow Seán’s reasoning in this; some of it does not make sense to me. The result rather has been rather a sense that I am being told I have no right to hold or express my views about the facts of the matter.
    For those reasons, it is clear that any further exchange between Seán and me on this matter will be fruitless, and should cease.
    A final simile which I find helpful. The Czech writer Milan Kundera was a communist in the early days of communist rule in Czechoslovakia and in his idealism he reported a spy to the secret police on one occasion in 1950. This was before communist rule there developed into the totalitarianism for which the period is remembered. Kundera wrote in Chapter 8 of Testaments Betrayed (1993):
    “Knowing neither the meaning nor the future course of history, knowing not even the objective meaning of their own actions (by which they ‘involuntarily’ participate in events whose meaning is ‘concealed from them’), they proceed through their lives as one proceeds in the fog. I say fog, not darkness. In the darkness, we see nothing, we are blind, we are defenceless, we are not free. In the fog, we are free but it is the freedom of a person in fog: he sees fifty yards ahead of him, he can clearly make out the features of his interlocutor, can take pleasure in the beauty of the trees that line the path and can even observe what is happening close by and react.
    “Man proceeds in the fog. But when he looks back to judge people of the past, he sees no fog on their path. From his present, which was their faraway future, their path looks perfectly clear to him, good visibility all the way. Looking back, he sees the path, he sees the people proceeding, he sees their mistakes but not the fog. And yet all of them – Heidegger, Mayakovsky, Aragon, Ezra Pound, Gorky, Gottfried Benn, St John Perse, Giono – all were walking in fog and one might wonder: who is more blind? Mayakovsky, who as he wrote his poem on Lenin did not know where Leninism would lead? Or we, who judge him decades later and do not see the fog that enveloped him?
    “Mayakovsky’s blindness is part of the eternal human condition. But for us not to see the fog on Mayakovsky’s path is to forget what man is, forget what we ourselves are.”

  13. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Thank you for the link Kevin but I see Tom Doyle as the typical status quo. He is quick to point out the faults of the church but as to a valid solution, he’s not amongst those who think about it too often. I think the problem with Spotlight is that it tells a different story to different people. A priest might see it as a confirmation that men of all walks are fallible for different reasons. The influence imparted on society by the Roman Catholic Church on the east coast of North America was the stuff legends are made of. It commanded immediate respect. However, we’ve been told time and time again that this power corrupts men absolutely. Those doorways to ethical relativism, when slightly propped open by the simple adherence to an unnatural law (celibacy), can produce a hell on earth for individuals, families, communities and dioceses. Been there, done that, paid the price for admission and walked away with an abundance of experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
    Spotlight’s purpose, as is most of Jeff Skoll’s productions via Participant Media, was to unite people around a phenomenon that clearly plays out in society today – the manipulation of our ethos by a select few within the population. The Pope, the most revered of our planet’s 1% creates a discord within the population by virtue of his ascension. As a culture, do we necessarily need to continue to do this to people? The results are terrible. Jeff Skoll is a member of the 1% who doesn’t feel he needs to be there, like Pope Francis. He produces socially relevant content and seems to look to bridge the gap between what we are and what we can aspire to be.

  14. Sean, I don’t say stick to “facts” calmly. What is needed is a wide-ranging and honest discussion dealing with every aspect of this issue. But that is impossible in the current climate, for a whole range of reasons. Sex panic is producing not only miscarriages of justice, but a poisoning of society’s attitude to children and minors.

  15. Kevin Walters says:

    Lloyd Allan MacPherson @ 30
    With regards to my statement “A Culture of Cover Up” and the topic you have elaborated on CRIMEN SOLLICITATIONIS, on the link you have given us in your post, there is a further link (Read the 1962 Vatican document (PDF file) the quality of this file is very poor. I have posted a link below for clarity with comments by Thomas Doyle,
    .
    THE 1922 INSTRUCTION AND THE 1962 INSTRUCTION
    “CRIMEN SOLLICITATIONIS,” PROMULGATED BY THE VATICAN
    Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.
    October 3, 2008
    Link below
    http://www.awrsipe.com/doyle/2008/2008-04-01-Commentary_on_Crimen_Solicitationis.pdf
    Taken from the document
    Chapter 30
    Yet it is not difficult to see why so many have seen in the 1962 Vatican Instruction a “smoking gun.” Over the past 18 years but especially since January 2002 we have witnessed wave after wave of deception, stone-walling, outright lying, intimidation of victims and complex schemes to manipulate the truth and obstruct justice. If anything we have watched as the culture of secrecy ended up causing much of what its proponents hoped it would prevent. The Vatican document did not cause the clandestine mode of dealing with clergy sex abuse. Rather it reflects
    it and should be a strong reminder that there is a much more important value than protecting the institutional church and its office-holders and that value is the creation and nurture of an attitude and aura of openness and honesty wherein true justice and compassion can flourish as the most visible of Catholic virtues.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  16. #26 As ‘facts’ continue to be adduced I must stick to them calmly, as advised by Joe O’Leary #27.
    First, I do not accept as FACT that the Murphy Report states categorically that NOTHING was learned by the Dublin clergy during the period studied (1975-2004). For me the report simply states that the commission could not accept this ‘learning curve’ (i.e. inadequate knowledge) explanation for the total administrative performance of those clergy – in regard both to what they did do and to what they left undone.
    Nor can I personally accept that explanation. That too is a factual statement. I regard the ‘learning curve’ verbalisation as a transparent excuse – equivalent to an erring child who had very good reason to know better telling me that on the contrary – disingenuously – ‘I didn’t know any better’.
    The decisive reason I cannot accept that explanation is that throughout my life I have been taught by Catholic bishops to regard them above all as pastors – carers of the lambs – ‘in persona Christi’. (Did they not insist even on the rights of the child in the womb?) Given what he himself said about the extreme evil of the scandalising of children (many centuries before psychiatry) I cannot believe that Jesus would have left any Irish Catholic family unwarned of the potential danger of a too-trusting relationship between a child and any priest who had even once behaved in a sexually abusive way towards children. Consequently I cannot accept that it was in any way defensible for any cleric who was ever in a position to give such a warning, not only to withhold that warning, time and time again, but simultaneously to continue to carry the crosier – the distinctive symbol of Jesus the Good Shepherd – in public procession.
    For me this was simply the grossest possible duplicity – and to attempt to justify it by saying, in effect, ‘they didn’t know any better’ is to make any recovery of trust in those who would offer it utterly impossible.
    For me the clerical duty of care for children should have overridden every other clerical consideration – and warned the Irish Catholic community of the factuality of clerical sexual abuse of children long before they found out by other means. I see it as futile for Padraig McCarthy to try to exonerate Catholic clergy by comparison with any other profession – because NO other profession ever claimed to be ‘in persona Christi’ in relation to Catholic children, and NO holder of any other office ever dared to flaunt the shepherd’s staff as a claim of sacred pastoral competence and authority.
    Were I to accept that ‘episcopal learning curve’ excuse I would feel obliged also to deny that Catholic bishops should be held to a Christian (i.e. Jesus-like) standard of care for the sacredness of the child. To do that would be (in my view) to deny what Catholic bishops themselves have taught me to believe about the meaning and duties of their office.
    Is that last, in the end, what Padraig McCarthy wants me to do?

  17. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    It’s a sensitive topic, Joe. As always, the quickest way to shut someone up is to simply ask a question. Making statements leaves little opportunity for learning. Has the “Crimine Solicitationies” subject ever been broached on this web-site? Do we all support that this document was circulated among all Bishops worldwide? See the link for supporting information.

  18. I contributed a few comments to the Spiked-online website (run by an atheist Irishman) concerning the Spotlight film – and specifically about Father Paul Shanley who was a major character in the scandal. (I see Joe O’Leary, D. B. Doucette and Paddy Ferry have also referred to the Shanley case). This was my final comment:
    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/spotlight-a-dull-drama-less-wallow-in-misery/18012#.VsSZ4bSLTZ5
    What a pity the discussion here seems to have finished. Anyway I just re-discovered an article in “The Nation” about the Father Paul Shanley case. This is a publication (and a writer JoAnn Wypijewski ) that cannot be accused of sympathizing with the Catholic Church. The March 2009 article is titled “Crisis of Faith” and Ms Wypijewski summarises the allegations against the ex-priest as follows:
    http://www.thenation.com/article/crisis-faith/
     The accuser asserted that from the age of 6, in 1983, he had been raped and otherwise indecently assaulted by the defendant for three years in a busy church on Sunday mornings. Each assault, it was alleged, instantly erased his memory of what had just happened, so that the boy re-approached the defendant in a state of innocent unknowing, to be assaulted again, to forget everything again and again, and then move on in life without the slightest inkling of the experience until twenty years later, when it all came back to him.
    Paul Shanley was convicted – SOLELY on the basis of this “Recovered Memory” evidence in 2005 and Ms Wypijewski’s article was published shortly before his appeal. In the event the Massacheutets Supreme Court confirmed the verdict and the validity of “Recovered Memory”.

  19. Kevin Walters says:

    Padraig McCarthy
    Thank you once again for showing us your skill in the Art of deflection (passing the buck) and ability to muddy the water (Relative statements) with your acknowledged awareness for it to cause frustration. Your ability to inflame the hurt and sense of betrayal of so many who are bruised and wounded, and others who feel so badly let down by an uncaring self-serving priesthood, in taking the stance of self-justification you avoid any blush of shame or true remorse.
    Only an act of true contrition by the leadership of the Church can heal this open sore to continue with the denial of a culture of cover up (Dishonesty) by the leadership of the Church insures that evil feeds evil and the innocent will suffer, as the hearts of all mankind will continue to harden against all Roman Catholics as we the Roman Catholic laity will be seen as supporters of hypocrisy which in time will stir up an open flame of hatred of all things Christian.
    I ask this question again, “What we now see through your eyes is the present mind-set of many of the clergy within the Church can this this mind-set be trusted to bring about change without open accountability and transparency”?
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  20. We are living in a world of increasingly disquieting PC fanaticism, where people prefer to shut up those they disagree with than to listen and discuss. I praise Padraig for his courage in holding his ground on this allegedly “no-win” topic. It is not the clergy that he is defending, but everyone, for we all suffer if calm discussion is excluded–including children and teenagers.

  21. Padraig McCarthy says:

    Seán @23: The conclusions you draw do not follow from the facts.
    1: “the conclusion that no one in Ireland should have looked to Catholic clergy for moral leadership on this issue.” That does not at all follow from recognising that human beings have a natural instinct to self-defence – just as you are doing in this.
    2: “forcing bishops to begin the long overdue process of devising the first guidelines for child safeguarding in the Irish church.” Yes, it’s good that this led to the 1995 Framework Document: not just the first in the Irish church: is it not the first in Ireland? Why did such guidelines not follow nationally from the SAVI report of 2002?
    3: Pope Benedict XVI opened a ‘year for priests’ by quoting St John Vianney: “After God, the priest is everything!” Yes – I wrote in the Furrow at the time pointing how misguided this statement is.
    4: “still be faulting the Murphy commission for dismissing the ‘learning curve’ defence.”
    If you accept that I am meticulous as to facts, then you must accept that by 1995 knowledge and understanding about child sexual abuse had grown significantly since the 1970s and 1980s; so there was an historically verifiable learning curve in society and among church authorities. This is why I point to that error in the Murphy Report.
    5: “Their failure to place the issue in the public domain before those families did so.”
    That “failure” had two clear motivations you do not mention: that many families came to the diocesan authorities precisely because they did not wish to place the issue in the public domain; and that church authorities dealt with the matter in ways which seemed to them best at the time, although we know with hindsight that they failed. This does not exclude mixed motives, including self-defence. But hindsight, with the benefit of the learning curve which may even you have traversed, does not give us the right to condemn actions of people who acted according to the knowledge of the time.
    Paddy @24:
    “a basic insensitivity to the hurt and suffering of those who survived, or did not survive.”
    Can you point to any statement of mine which shows such insensitivity? If you read my book “Unheard Story”, you will have seen that I recognised many times the hurt and suffering.
    There are reasons why the actions of church authorities at the time were not effective, other than the presumed insensitivity. The fact that I point out the historical facts does not in any way imply the basic insensitivity of which you accuse me. If you, like Seán, agree that I am meticulous as to the facts, then your conclusion is unjustified.
    The fact of the hurt and suffering is well established. To point out that accusations against the authorities of the time of having failed the children through selfishness or perverseness or through insensitivity may not be well founded is not in any way a denial of the hurt and suffering; nor does it imply a “basic insensitivity” on my part.

  22. Clare Hannigan says:

    The observation in the film Spotlight which stood out for me was the idea that it takes a village to raise a child and a village to abuse a child. The film emphasises that the cover up of abuse was dependent on a network of people associated with the Catholic Church. In her speech to the Dail following the publication of the Murphy report Lucinda Creighton highlighted this same situation in Ireland. Her speech in available at
    http://www.lucindacreighton.ie/lucindas-dail-statement-on-the-murphy-report/
    She states that ‘The Dublin diocese, particularly, was totally warped in how it viewed priorities. The priests, the assets and the reputation and good name of the church were more important than young, vulnerable children. It leaves me without words to respond.
    We have to acknowledge that the bishops, priests and perpetrators were not the only ones responsible for the mass cover-up. It is an important point. Irish society as a whole colluded to cover up these scandals. There was a priest who abused numerous children in my home parish. Everybody knew about it. He was moved to a neighbouring parish where he continued the abuse. Many, if not most, lay members of the church, that is, people who went to read at mass and give out communion every Sunday and who were the so-called pillars of the community, knew what had happened and facilitated the cover-up. It is very easy for us to place blame on certain individuals in the church and certain clergy, but the net must go much wider that……………………………………..Lay people, the Garda, social workers and people in a whole variety of positions of responsibility chose to ignore what was happening. It is something we must bear in mind and keep to the fore as we begin planning a way forward for the protection of children in the future’
    Over the past twenty years or so I have witnessed two people say that victims of sexual abuse were liars – both are women with third level qualifications, both working with children and young adults and both members of two different so called ‘orthodox’ lay catholic movements. Both are still active members of the Catholic Community. We have considered the scandal of sexual abuse but we have not even begun to consider the underlying scandal of emotional abuse within the Church that allows people to spread mailicious gossip about victims of crime.

  23. I agree completely with Seán @23, “you are meticulous as to the facts”
    Padraig and I am sure you will continue to be so, and also to continue to debate this issue, most eloquently, until the cows come home, as you are, obviously, well capable of doing.
    However, what I think is also present here, Padraig, if I may say so, is a basic insensitivity to the hurt and suffering of those who survived, or did not survive, the unspeakable horror of being sexually abused by those in whom they had placed their complete trust, priests of our Church.

  24. #19, #22 – You are meticulous as to facts, Padraig. It is the patterns they make for you that are most interesting – including, apparently, the conclusion that no one in Ireland should have looked to Catholic clergy for moral leadership on this issue. (#11 “It’s an instinctive reaction of human nature to protect oneself and one’s group.”)
    That fits perfectly the fact that it was suffering Irish Catholic families who finally thrust this issue into the public domain in 1994 – forcing bishops to begin the long overdue process of devising the first guidelines for child safeguarding in the Irish church.
    In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI opened a ‘year for priests’ by quoting St John Vianney: “After God, the priest is everything!” This must now be considered professional rhetoric, according to your argument. Unless, of course we now elevate the baptised child as the priest of greatest consequence.
    This leaves it merely mysterious why you should still be faulting the Murphy commission for dismissing the ‘learning curve’ defence of the responsible Dublin clergy. Their failure to place the issue in the public domain before those families did so was also obviously ‘an instinctive reaction of human nature to protect oneself and one’s group’ – and therefore a barrier to everyone’s ‘learning curve’.

  25. Padraig McCarthy says:

    Anne @21: “I find it unbelievable that any member of the clergy would admit that he did not know that the rape of a child was a despicable crime.”
    I too would find that difficult to believe, of either cleric or lay person. Although there was a lobby group in UK 1974 – 1984 which wanted the removal of any legal age barrier for sexual activity; there was a similar group in USA.
    The point is quite a different one: what do we do when we find such a case? For this we need to understand what effects it may have in the abused child, then and later, in order to care as fully as possible for the child. We also need to have some idea of the extent of the problem in society. We also need to have an idea of why some people abuse children, and how it may be possible to take action in order to prevent further abuse.
    It may seem difficult to believe, but it is only in about the past 30 years that society has begun to get some idea of how to deal with all this. I have a 1983 book by Eliana Gil PhD, “Outgrowing the Pain: A book for and about adults abused as children.” Her clinical practice specialised in working with child and adult victims of abuse and in training other professionals in the field. The book deals with many kinds of abuse. On child sexual abuse it gives just ten lines.
    It was not that society turned a blind eye to the abuse – people knew it was there, although little reported. The “Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland” (SAVI) report of 2002, although far more comprehensive than any church report, got very little coverage. Helen Goode, one of the SAVI team, wrote in the Irish Times in 2002: “How will society more generally address the 97 per cent of child sexual abuse, still largely hidden and not perpetrated by clergy?”
    This may also help Kevin @20 to understand better the points I am putting forward. Again, if there is any false statement in what I have written, I will be grateful for anyone who points it out.
    We still have a lot to learn.

  26. Would it be accurate to conclude that the societal norm at he time was to adopt the proverb of the three monkeys,Hear no Evil,See no Evil, Speak no Evil,in other words turning a blind eye.
    I find it unbelievable that any member of the clergy would admit that he did not know that the rape of a child was a despicable crime.

  27. Kevin Walters says:

    Padraig McCarthy@19
    So far many have expressed disagreement or frustration, but nobody as far as I can see has shown anything I wrote to be false”.
    ——————————————————————————————————————
    No Padraig, no one can say you wrote anything false, in fact we need to thank you as you carry a lamp above your own heart for all to see and we the laity see this (Your heart) in context of how the elite of the church which YOU are part of dealt with some of the most vulnerable in our society and when they complained were “silenced”. What we now see through your eyes is the present mind-set of many of the clergy within the Church, can this this mind-set be trusted to bring about change without open accountability?
    I think not.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  28. Padraig McCarthy says:

    Paddy @15 says to me, “I wish you would just stop this now.” Fair enough to say how you feel, but it gets us not a bit further unless the specific points I proposed are answered. Neither Ben@6 nor Sean@9 have done so. Nor do you. You simply refer to a blindspot, which is to say you disagree, as you have every right to, but just also as I have a right to disagree with you. Just asking me to stop doesn’t get us anywhere.
    Ben @ 6 has a problem with me referring to a societal norm, what society did at the time. That is not to say that this is good; it is simply a factual statement. One would hope that Church authorities would see things differently; but we are an incarnate church living in human societies, and have inevitably been influenced by that since the beginning.
    The fact that abused people were “silenced” in the past does not mean that it’s okay that I should be silenced now, on a matter of justice. I tried to be clear in the points I make in reflecting on the film. So far many have expressed disagreement or frustration, but nobody as far as I can see has shown anything I wrote to be false.

  29. #11, #14 – I wrote: “And so we get again the straw-clutching implication that the diocesan policy of reassignment of erring priests might have arisen from unknown advice given by psychiatrists and lawyers – as though Catholic clergy could never have had an overpowering reason to protect their own profession from shame …”
    Padraig McCarthy responds: “Of course they have – as have members of other professions.”
    Exactly. So, in all of the evidence given by responsible Dublin diocesan clergy to the Murphy commission, did any of those clerics ever disclose that this natural instinct to protect their own profession from shame was likely to have influenced their decision making over several decades – including their decisions never to avail of the civil law provisions that could have taken abusive clergy immediately and permanently out of ministry?
    If none ever did advert to that possibility, if they insisted instead that always their decisions had been determined by the inadequate state of their understanding of the abuse problem (the ‘learning curve’ defence) would not the Murphy tribunal have been entirely justified in concluding that this defence was both unconvincing and disingenuous?
    This is the problem with constant referrals to the role of psychiatrists and others in determining the decision-making of the Dublin clergy. That comes across always as blame-shifting – an attempt to deny that the natural professional instinct referred to above could have been a determinative cause of a pattern of decision-making that had consistently the same dangerous result: the non-removal of clergy from dangerous access to children.
    So does the criticism of the Murphy commission for failing to accept that Dublin clergy did actually learn something during those years. From the beginning those clergy knew that sexual abuse of children was a crime in civil statute and in canon law also. The Murphy tribunal was entirely justified in rejecting the ‘learning curve’ explanation of why this knowledge never overrode a practice whose consistent result – the non-shaming of clergy – gave the commission (and the Irish Bishops Conference and virtually everyone else) – unerring light on its intent.
    As to the insistence that other professions and churches have had the same problem, that too is entirely true, as are many of the reciprocal accusations thrown across the peace walls of Belfast. Anxious to go beyond this completely dead end, and to get to a time when all sides take complete responsibility for their own failings, many in NI have taken to calling that habit ‘whataboutery’ – from whichever side it originates. We surely need to get beyond whataboutery in the church.

  30. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Padraig @ 14, this is the topic I’ve elaborated on. Is the Crimine Solicitationies document criminally punishable? Could the Vatican be liable? Is there one other institution or organization out there who could have created such a detriment to society on purpose? I’d like to hear the thoughts on the Vatican making it criminally punishable in your organization to report an occurrence up the line. Could we see where everyone stands on that statement? Excommunication we’re taking here. Paddy @ 15, Padraig’s assessment of the film was his opinion of it, which seemed to me very supportive of its creation and content. Sean seems to think that because he didn’t write exactly what Sean wrote on the ACI site, Padraig has to go back and watch the film again. Amazing how films touch people in different ways. I have a tendency to see the value in all your points but again very disappointed that this film did not really touch on the true victim of the repeat offending priests – policy. Call yourselves a “thinking” group do you? Who’s idea was that? Even you can’t be ruled by the 1% at this stage because you have surpassed their vision.

  31. Joe@10, you are forever going on about Fr.Shawm Ratigan and the very severe sentence he got for taking photos of the little girls and, given that murderers get only 20 years, you probably have a point.
    However, you are definitely wrong about Shanley. D B Doucette knows a lot more about Shanley that I do. However, I would refer you to a book ” The Body Keeps the Score ( Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma)” by Bessel Van Der Kolk. Chap 11, Uncovering Secrets: the problem of traumatic memory, is a case study of a young man who had been abused by Shanley. It is such tragic stuff.
    Padraig, I wish you would just stop this now. It is as Seán has said “straw-clutching”. You are convincing nobody and you are only adding insult to injury. Those who have contributed to this debate, and especially Ben Flood@6 and Seán@9, have firmly hit all the nails perfectly on the head. You should take very seriously what they have said to you.
    I have the utmost respect for Joe and yourself, Padraig. I would be with you both completely on 99% of the issues we discuss on this site. So, I am genuinely baffled and saddened by the blindspot both of you seem to have on this issue, this very significant issue.

  32. Padraig McCarthy says:

    Kevin Walters refers to “the fundamental sin of a Culture of Cover Up within the Church.” I have little doubt that this has occurred in the Church, as it does in many other organisations where their reputations or assets are threatened.
    “Cover Up” however has been used frequently in a blanket all-embracing way which is not helpful. It has been used, for example, when church authorities in the past dealt with allegations not in the manner which we would now expect and demand.
    Church authorities tried to deal with the matter themselves, as in Ireland, when there was no legal obligation to report abuse to civil authorities; and when indeed civil authorities were far behind the church in looking to provide treatment for offenders – such treatment was first introduced in our prison system only in 1994.
    Church authorities have been blamed for covering up by keeping matters confidential, when often it was the people making the complaint to the church who wanted it kept confidential – they did not want it notified to the Gardaí.
    Evidence of this can be found, strangely, in the Murphy Report on Dublin diocese. The Murphy Commission, however, chose to interpret such actions in a negative light rather than as honest (and often costly) attempts to deal with care both for the abused person and the abuser. The fact that such attempts were so often ineffective does not mean that they arose from a desire to deceive.
    This is not to say that protecting the reputation of the Church did not play a part – I’m sure it did; but to attribute all actions by Church authorities only to that motive is not a true reflection of the reality.
    We have learned much over the past 30 years about sexual abuse of children, and we still have much to learn – we are still trying to find ways to deal effectively with it for the sake of those who are abused; and also for the sake of the abuser, to bring about whatever change is necessary, and to better protect vulnerable people in future.
    When the Murphy Commission rejected the claim by the Church to have been on a learning curve, they were denying historical fact. “Cover Up” has been used in far too facile a manner to try to explain a much more complex reality.

  33. D. B. Doucette says:

    The Shanley case is not contested except by Shanley, who had participated in a group that says love between adult and juvenile males is desirable. Shanley himself admitted to abusing at least 9 children. He was laicized. His appeals in secular courts were denied.
    As a further note, the huge majority of priests removed for abuse in the US have all admitted to what they like to call “inappropriate relations” with children but which to any mature adult is a crime, period.

  34. Kevin Walters says:

    Joe O’Leary @10
    The fictional IMAGE of priests in 99% of films is that of good holy men serving God this Image re-enacted in proud hearts endorsed by a docile/proud (self-serving) laity has produced a clerical system of hypocrisy. This image has now been broken as now they (Clergy) are seen as by the majority of mankind in the West as supporting a self-serving Church of hypocrisy and they are now held in distain and open to justifiable ridicule as an underlying distrust now lies within the heart of mankind for them, as it does of all secret (Unaccountable) societies. This image an Image of Pride is still been sustained by a web of lies, intrigue and deflection from the Papacy downward True Humility before our Father in heaven, is nowhere to be seen. And yes Joe, sadly some are been treated harshly and unjustly, the cause is plain to see by refusing to acknowledge the fundamental sin of a Culture of Cover Up within the Church by the elite, assisted by many of the clergy and privileged laity before mankind, ensures that evil feeds evil and the innocent (are drawn into this web of lies and intrigue) suffer. Only an honest Church can restore credibility, to try and justify oneself in this present situation of denial is “To pour oil on the flame” and to remain in denial of the truth of this situation ensures its CONTINUETY.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  35. Padraig McCarthy says:

    It baffles me that Seán O’Conaill (@9) could have so totally missed the primary focus of what I wrote above. I wrote that the film is worth seeing. The movie can speak for itself.
    If we are to see the value of the movie, we cannot do so just from within the world of the movie itself. We must look at the much wider world in which the story of the movie takes place. The focus of what I wrote is to outline some of that setting. If we fail to see that, we fail to know what the movie is about.
    Seán writes: “… there could be social penalties for confronting clerical abuse in Boston.” True. There could be social penalties also for confronting educator abuse, or abuse in the world of sport, or any other world you care to mention. Why was there no similar public outcry at Charol Shakeshaft’s report? Why was there no public outcry at the SAVI report here in Ireland in 2002?
    Seán writes: “Padraig McCarthy shows no sign, ever, that he notices clericalism.” Seán clearly does not know me. I have experienced the effects of clericalism within the church; I have pointed it out in public and in private for many years.
    Seán writes: “… as though Catholic clergy could never have had an overpowering reason to protect their own profession.” Of course they have – as have members of other professions. It is not peculiar to clergy. It’s an instinctive reaction of human nature to protect oneself and one’s group. We need to be aware of this so we can deal with matters without that being the over-riding control mechanism. That does not in any way take from the part played by psychiatrists and lawyers, who did play a part, and who have never to my knowledge come clean on this. Perhaps there’s a matter of legal privilege. But to ignore their part is to ignore reality.
    Seán writes: “It baffles me that Padraig McCarthy could have so totally missed what was for me the primary focus of the movie.” I have no argument with Seán over what, for him, was the primary focus of the movie. I agree with him that that was the primary focus of the movie. We must allow, however, that other people may see the primary focus differently. And we must allow that, if there is a primary focus, that there is also a wide-angle view without which that primary focus loses essential context.

  36. Joe O'Leary says:

    I think that the terrible crimes committed against young people have brought in their wake some injustices against priests, so to that extent I am in sympathy with Pádraig’s efforts. Disproportionate punishment, typical of the US justice system, could be mentioned in the case of Fr Shawn Ratigan, sentenced to 50 years for taking sneaky pics of little girls. Doubtful justice could be alleged in the case of Fr Paul Shanley, mentioned in “Spotlight”: the conviction against him is very contested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Shanley http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/September-October-2004/feature_wypijewski_sepoct04.msp. There have been four allegations of slander against “Spotlight” itself, which followed Hollywood artistic conventions much as “Philomena” did (the latter producing a very nasty demonization of one nun, using fictional scenes). As this is a field in which the least distortion can have lethal consquences, I think it would be good to refrain from all fictionalized presentations.

  37. It baffles me that Padraig McCarthy could have so totally missed what was for me the primary focus of the movie. This was the Boston Catholic ethic that taught lay people in a whole range of occupations – from policing to record archiving to the legal and judicial professions and journalism itself – that there could be social penalties for confronting clerical abuse in Boston and in probing how clerical abusers had been dealt with by the diocesan leadership.
    For me the key moment of the movie came when the leader of the Globe’s Spotlight team, ‘Robby’ Robinson, came to realise that he himself had failed to investigate the full ramifications of the Geoghan case a full six years earlier, when given sufficient clues by one of the most active survivors. The subtle pressures that would warn off someone like himself had become apparent when he was reminded by a prominent figure in the Boston Catholic establishment that as a Bostonian himself, with roots in the city, he could not, like the Globe’s new blow-in Jewish editor, simply ‘move on’ when the story had broken.
    Padraig McCarthy shows no sign, ever, that he notices clericalism – the ‘in your face’ cultural reality of a protective ethos toward the mystique of clergy that Boston clearly shared with Ireland in the same era. Not to notice that is to be completely unseeing of the danger that this mystique posed just a short few years ago for those at the base of the Catholic pyramid of esteem – children from the most socially vulnerable families.
    And so we get again the straw-clutching implication that the diocesan policy of reassignment of erring priests might have arisen from unknown advice given by psychiatrists and lawyers – as though Catholic clergy could never have had an overpowering reason to protect their own profession from social shame in a city that so obviously accorded it a deeply dangerous degree of immunity from social accountability.
    It is as though the far more realistic attitude that prevails now towards clergy – after the ‘crash’ of media revelation in both Boston and Dublin – had prevailed before it. The great value of ‘Spotlight’ is to remind us , whenever we need reminding, of that very different pre-scandal Bing Crosby world when every Catholic was expected to protect the image of the Catholic priest as someone necessarily virtuous, ex officio. The very last thing we need to do is to miss, or deny, the danger of that illusion.
    Padraig McCarthy needs to see at last what Ben Flood can see so clearly

  38. Paddy Ferry @ 5
    I get it Paddy because I learned the hard way. One of my daughters who is now deceased was assaulted by a gang of youths when she was a teenager twenty years ago. The crime committed against her destroyed her life and took ten years out of mine and my late husband. One of the perpatrators went to prision. I really believe that some clergy have no insight of how serious a crime this is. I can only describe it as a murder without a dead body, they murdered her soul. I felt that I had to go back to scratch and rear her all over again to try and get back the beautiful girl she was before this happened to her. I only partly succeeded. Then she was killed in a traffic accident four years ago. When I hear anyone making excuses for abusers I say silently to myself “God forgive them for they know not what they say”

  39. Kevin Walters says:

    Paddy Ferry @5
    Thank you Paddy for your response, I have not seen the film I will probably purchase the CD when it comes out next month. I tried to go back to my comments and those made by your self Seán, Brendan, Anne, Nuala, Bernard Whelan and Patrick T Darcy through the site search box but it was not possible to do so, so I have posted the direct link below.
    http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2015/12/bishop-dermot-o-mahony-r-i-p/
    Irish clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins has an article on the “We are church site” by Sarah Mac Donald who is a journalist based in Dublin.
    Taken from the linked article below
    “There is still resistance” within the church to safeguarding protocols and that is why the commission’s work is “essential” “It is not that the church wanted to listen, it is they were made to listen by survivors and I don’t think anything will change in that respect,”
    http://wearechurchireland.ie/abuse-survivor-hopes-2016-sees-results-from-vatican-safeguarding-body/
    Also part of my response to the above linked article
    What a sad state of affairs, nothing changes, nor will it, as at this present moment power lies in the hands of unaccountable men, by refusing to openly acknowledge from the Papacy down the part that they have played in maintaining this this Evil “System” (Culture of cover up) they ensure its CONTINUITY.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  40. Ben Flood says:

    I’ve just read Padriag McCarthys response to the film. I am disappointed that he talks about the Church’s response as being rooted in the societal norms at the time. It seems clear to me from this film, documentaries such as Alex Gibney’s , Mea Maxima Culpa – Silence in The House of God and Irish Reports that the Church created these norms to protect the institution. I am committed to a living, all welcoming church and not lessening the apology by trying to couch it in “societal norms” at the time.
    We need to get present to the harm caused by abusing priests and those who covered up , loss of faith , loss of life , loss of success in life, broken marriages , addiction and criminality. The Church must answer for it’s own record on clerical child sex abuse by ensuring the coverup ceases , stop deflecting responsibility and deal with the abused on a case by case basis with the intention of creating a normal life for the abused by financial , medical and spiritual. Yes child abuse happens mostly in the home however the Church is no ordinary human institution. It was founded by Jesus Christ , The Son of God and therefore has special obligations that are not expected in say for instance the local scout troop at that time. We need to learn the lessons of history and create a safe , caring Church for our children.
    Ben Flood

  41. Kevin, thank you for the link to the NCR article by Fr. Peter Daly.
    Near the end of his piece, Fr. Daly simply says ” many people have still not gotten the message”. This reminded me of what Anne said during our debate on this site following the death of Bishop Dermot O’Mahony. Anne said ” some clergy still don’t get it” and I agree. Infact I would say some of those I would regard as among the best of them, still don’t get it. I took note of the fact that all those who contributed to that debate and who definitely got it in the same way that Fr. Daly got it, were lay people: you yourself, Kevin, Seán, Brendan, Anne, Nuala and myself. I would guess that Bernard Whelan and Patrick T Darcy are also lay people. Did not even one priest who is aware of this site and who witnessed that debate agree with us?
    I also went to see Spotlight, not on my own but with my wife. I think it will win the Oscar for best screenplay.

  42. D.B. Doucette says:

    In reference to the article statement: “I do not know how historically accurately the film presents what happened, nor to what extent artistic licence is used. It seems to me a film worth seeing” yes, it is a film well worth seeing. And yes, it is historically accurate. Making that choice, to be historically accurate within the time frame of the movie, means (a) that although references are made to earlier cases elsewhere (which had been cited in news media but not followed up), they are not covered extensively because the lens of THIS movie is on Boston and the effort required to piece together how many priests were abusers and how extensive the clerical coverup here was; (b) that full revelations of what came next, who revealed additional cases, how the Church responded to overwhelming evidence of malfeasance in this one diocese, are not covered because they did not occur within the time frame of the movie; and (c) that information on treatments types and effectiveness–all of which were explored in later news stories and in later academic and government studies–is not included in the movie, again because it was outside the time frame. Ample information and evidence regarding these later actions and data are available from Attorney General reports, from court cases, from later media reports, from the log of abuse cases kept by BishopAccountability in the U.S., from survivor support groups, and from church reform organizations like Voice of the Faithful.

  43. I found it incredibly healing. I came across the scandals about 10 years ago and went into moral shock. I couldn’t tell anyone. If I did I was told it was Catholic bashing and petty gossip. To see the pain and shock of the reporters was heartbreaking especially the scene where the reporter was watching her grandmother reading the paper. In another scene where the young reporter says he was lapsed but he had always intended to go back. Even the Globe has been complicit having covered up the original report. No-one wanted to know then and unfortunately no-one wants to know now.

  44. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    The real story of the film but a detail that was left out as this was not entirely central of the plot is “Crimine solicitationies”. This document needs its time in the spotlight. Those Bishops out there who feared excommunication from the Vatican need to come forward and assemble for the Church to truly see the err in its ways. Pádraig, you are correct in asserting that this is not a Roman Catholic Priest phenomenon, yet could forced celibacy not increase the likelihood of this becoming a recurring manifestation in the minds of some, as the film alludes to? I would like to see more priests come forward anonymously and give their testimony of what is has been like to be celibate and without the option of a personal companion. This is a deeply sensitive subject but I think one that could at least instil confidence in a large demographic of people who now trust priests very little because they see this specific occupational hazard as one that can weigh heavily on your minds, the longer in the profession you remain. Anonymous accounts of the life of a Catholic priest. It could be a way forward to banning celibacy in the church. You don’t live under the rules of parishioners and if that were the case, we’d have made forced celibacy illegal many moons ago. Nonetheless, you need to help us any way you can or is this too much to ask?

  45. Kevin walters says:

    This article by Fr. Peter Daly In the National Catholic Reporter| is well worth reading
    Quote from his article
    As a parish priest I found it painful to watch. I was ashamed.
    I went to see the movie alone. When the movie was over I sat in stunned silence in the theater and waited for everyone else to leave. I did not want to have to talk. Above all I did not want to run into any parishioners. Our church behaved horribly.
    Thirteen years after the scandal broke many people have still not gotten the message. There is a new clericalism and arrogance among many of the younger clergy today.
    http://ncronline.org/blogs/parish-diary/watching-and-responding-spotlight
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

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