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How did the Catholic Church get away with hiding the widespread abuses of pedophile priests for so long?

 

Spotlight is a very disturbing movie at many levels.  We rarely hear applause at the end of a movie, but there was enthusiasm from some members of the audience. British Catholics founded Maryland, so the fact that the applause in my showing was not thunderous could have been explained by the ratio of Catholics to non-Catholics in the auditorium.  Many people in a theatre full of adults seemed stunned by what they saw.

How did the Catholic Church get away with hiding the widespread abuses of pedophile priests for so long?  Since the early 1970s, when the Watergate Scandal highlighted a major cover up at the very top of our government itself, Americans have gradually become aware of the fact that we do not always know the truth.  What you see in the media is not always what you get.  

In Spotlight we learn that what was originally thought to be a problem with only a few Catholic priests, turned out to be a global menace that enveloped the very essence and a central article of faith of the Roman Catholic Church.  Is celibacy of the Catholic clergy a problem?  Here we learn that only 50% of Catholic priests actually are celibate.  Who knew?   How could Cardinal Bernard Law be appointed to lead the largest Catholic Church in Rome after his role in this scandal was revealed?  

Why did Pope Benedict XVI really resign?  He had the excuse of old age, but no other Pope had left office on his own initiative for over 700 years.   He was Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the historical Roman Inquisition, and responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of a wide array of crimes.  But was his main role during the Spotlight revelations to cover up the breadth of the problem?  What is still hidden?

Could it be that there are similar problems of sexuality and pedophilia across the entire religious spectrum?  Whisper who dares!  Catholic priests’ behavior is all the more outrageous because of the trust of their parishioners, who believed they were celibate.  But the widespread nature of the problem certainly suggests there may be aberrations in other religious communities that do not make celibacy a central article of faith.  

What other major organizations are hiding secrets about societally unacceptable sexuality?  Certainly the sexual proclivities of our professional athletes often seep through into the mainstream media.  

Will parents globally trust their children’s leaders in sports teams and other after school activities ever again? Penn State’s horrible scandal regarding Jerry Sandusky seemed a one-off event at the time, but now it cannot be denied that these issues arise everywhere adults are put in control of large groups of children.   As surely as this American story reflects the fact that civilization is a thin veneer, so these issues must be important to parents everywhere.

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