'Spotlight' on media, Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal

The clergy sex abuse scandal has, since 1950, reportedly cost the Catholic Church nearly $4 billion.  Even if we take into account some (many?) false accusations made against certain clergy and religious, it's still a depressing statistic.

This Friday, the movie Spotlight, which focuses on the "beginnings" of the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston, opens.  Interestingly, the movie has drawn praise from Vatican Radio.  

I haven't seen it, and, quite frankly, I don't want to.  It may indeed be well-crafted, but I've spent several years covering various aspects of the scandal as a Catholic commentator.  I've paid my dues, so to speak, and don't want to spend any money to watch Hollywood's take on the subject.  That said, I won't ignore the controversy surrounding Spotlight.

In addition to an analysis of the controversy by Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, Dave Pierre, founder of TheMediaReport.com and author of Sins of the Press: The Untold Story of The Boston Globe's Reporting on Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church, has been sharply critical of the mainstream media's treatment of the scandal.

Pierre writes:

The topic of child sex abuse is at once both revolting and heartbreaking. One can hardly imagine the unquenchable pain and intense suffering which so many victims must endure today and throughout their lives as a result of the betrayal of trust by the very adults charged with their care. Justice demands first and foremost that those who misuse the trust placed in them and use innocent children for their own gratification be incarcerated and severely punished. The protection of children is paramount.

But the media's treatment of sex abuse in the Catholic Church is a different story.

The overall narrative has been largely driven by a symbiosis of wealthy contingency lawyers who have made an industry out of suing the Catholic Church, a small cadre of purported 'experts' who provide the needed testimony for the lawyers, and noisy victims' advocate groups who are funded in part by the contingency lawyers and who in turn feed the lawyers more clients.

Follow the money.  (That goes for the "VatiLeaks" scandal as well.)

Is the clergy sex-abuse scandal "in the past"?  Not according to Crux columnist Margery Eagan, who writes:

Spotlight is a reminder to those of us who've grown complacent that the abuse survivors are right. The lawyers who represent them are right. This crisis is not over. Children are not yet safe. And those of us who look away and pretend otherwise are not just complacent. We're complicit.

To which Bill Donohue responded:

Every honest student of this subject knows that the heyday of the homosexual crisis was 1965-1985. It is therefore dishonest to argue that Catholic kids are still not safe. They are safer in Catholic schools than they are just about anywhere. The 'crisis' is in Eagan's head.

So who's right?

In all honesty, I'm not sure.  Children's bodies are likely "safer in Catholic schools than they are just about anywhere," as Donohue says.  Sadly, however, their minds are not safe from the multitude of liberal educators, be it in public schools or Catholic schools. 

The clergy sex abuse scandal has, since 1950, reportedly cost the Catholic Church nearly $4 billion.  Even if we take into account some (many?) false accusations made against certain clergy and religious, it's still a depressing statistic.

This Friday, the movie Spotlight, which focuses on the "beginnings" of the scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston, opens.  Interestingly, the movie has drawn praise from Vatican Radio.  

I haven't seen it, and, quite frankly, I don't want to.  It may indeed be well-crafted, but I've spent several years covering various aspects of the scandal as a Catholic commentator.  I've paid my dues, so to speak, and don't want to spend any money to watch Hollywood's take on the subject.  That said, I won't ignore the controversy surrounding Spotlight.

In addition to an analysis of the controversy by Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, Dave Pierre, founder of TheMediaReport.com and author of Sins of the Press: The Untold Story of The Boston Globe's Reporting on Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church, has been sharply critical of the mainstream media's treatment of the scandal.

Pierre writes:

The topic of child sex abuse is at once both revolting and heartbreaking. One can hardly imagine the unquenchable pain and intense suffering which so many victims must endure today and throughout their lives as a result of the betrayal of trust by the very adults charged with their care. Justice demands first and foremost that those who misuse the trust placed in them and use innocent children for their own gratification be incarcerated and severely punished. The protection of children is paramount.

But the media's treatment of sex abuse in the Catholic Church is a different story.

The overall narrative has been largely driven by a symbiosis of wealthy contingency lawyers who have made an industry out of suing the Catholic Church, a small cadre of purported 'experts' who provide the needed testimony for the lawyers, and noisy victims' advocate groups who are funded in part by the contingency lawyers and who in turn feed the lawyers more clients.

Follow the money.  (That goes for the "VatiLeaks" scandal as well.)

Is the clergy sex-abuse scandal "in the past"?  Not according to Crux columnist Margery Eagan, who writes:

Spotlight is a reminder to those of us who've grown complacent that the abuse survivors are right. The lawyers who represent them are right. This crisis is not over. Children are not yet safe. And those of us who look away and pretend otherwise are not just complacent. We're complicit.

To which Bill Donohue responded:

Every honest student of this subject knows that the heyday of the homosexual crisis was 1965-1985. It is therefore dishonest to argue that Catholic kids are still not safe. They are safer in Catholic schools than they are just about anywhere. The 'crisis' is in Eagan's head.

So who's right?

In all honesty, I'm not sure.  Children's bodies are likely "safer in Catholic schools than they are just about anywhere," as Donohue says.  Sadly, however, their minds are not safe from the multitude of liberal educators, be it in public schools or Catholic schools.