Saturday, July 9, 2016

Why Every Person of Faith Should Watch 'Spotlight'

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea." 
~ Matthew 18:6

My head is still reeling; my emotions are still echoing the empathy, anger, and frustration unearthed in the worldwide truth revealed in the movie Spotlight. The film is brilliantly acted and intelligently written. Stand out performances by Mike Ruffalo and Michael Keaton carry this film, but it is the truth that the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe unveils that is earth shattering and life changing.  
Although I was aware of the pedophile priests, the victimization of kids, the bishops and cardinals who hid and reassigned them, and the scandal that this has caused in the Church; I never put a personal face to the suffering or realized the magnitude of blame that the institution of the Roman Catholic Church has in this. In recent history, Pope Benedict XVI resigned, Pope Francis took over, and the Church made serious efforts to root out the sex abuse and protect kids, but the scandal still continues, except now it is smaller in scale and lies carefully tucked away in places like the Vatican and South America.
Here are some current facts that any Googler can unearth:
I stop with two instances because it is enough to illustrate the grave injustice and horror that continues even in the face of Church public relations promoting a “zero tolerance” policy regarding these criminals. In an article in the May 2014 issue of Time magazine regarding the sex abuse crisis in the Church, Pope Francis declares a “zero tolerance” approach to these horrific crimes:

‘‘On this issue we must go forward, forward. Zero tolerance,’’ Francis said to a group of reporters as he returned from his trip to the Holy Land. He called abuse of children an “ugly” crime that betrays God, according to the Associated Press.

But as is evidenced by Googling recent news, however, the policy has been far less than “zero tolerance.” The scandal, too, gets less press than it should. Where is the Church now with its accountability? How are they handling both the high and low profile cases of abuse? Spotlight plainly points us to questions that have been avoided for far too long.

There is a point in Spotlight where Mike Rezendes (played by Mark Ruffalo) finally gains access to the hidden victim complaint files that the Church tries their best to keep sealed and private. These files prove, beyond any doubt, that Cardinal Bernard Law was hiding the child molestations from the public.  Rezendes urgently says to Robbie (played by Michael Keaton) that they have to print this, get this out to the public, stop this horror now, and he breaks down in tears.  At this point in the movie, I cried, too. I cried for every child victim who was not only physically but spiritually raped by men purporting to represent Christ. I cried for the victims who became junkies to self-medicate the pain. I cried for the victims who took their own lives because they could not deal with the pain, rejection, and embarrassment. I cried for the victims who kept the violation of their innocence buried, trying their best to live normal lives. I cried for the heartfelt survivor network leader Phil Saviano and all the victims he represents. And I cried for the parents who were duped into believing the Church, as the voice of Christ, had their best interests in mind and would solve the problem. So the parents kept quiet about the incidents, faithfully hoping and praying for healing.  One mother, for example, wrote that all seven of her children were molested by a priest.

If anyone has an inkling of empathy for the victimized in this world, please watch Spotlight, research the story, and educate yourselves about the truth of the abuse perpetrated not only by the priests but the hierarchy that covered it up, by looking the other way and allowing it to fester for decades, possibly centuries.

I am a faithful Christian father and practicing Roman Catholic.  My relationship with Christ is the center of my life, so I am serious about my faith. I study both Scripture and the teachings of my tradition, so this film has rocked me on a deep level. It has brought to the surface many deep-seeded questions for me. For instance, how could such a powerful institution have ignored such a violation of humanity? I love Jesus Christ and pray that this experience makes me a stronger disciple and witness to Christ in the world and encourages me to advocate for the love and mercy of God as well as to fight against the blatant, systematized evil that often times remains hidden.