National--New acclaimed film focuses on clergy abuse crisis
For immediate release: Tuesday, Oct. 27
A new film about how journalists broke open the widespread Catholic abuse and cover up crisis will hit theatres next month. We urge every US bishop to order all church staff to see it, even if it means arranging special viewings at church facilities.
The movie is about how reporters began exposing 249 predator priests and their complicit church supervisors in the Boston archdiocese when a judge ordered long-secret files to be revealed.
So we urge every US bishop to do now, voluntarily, what courts forced church officials to do years ago: release long-secret records that show which clerics committed and concealed heinous crimes against children.
Releasing this information is the quickest way bishops could safeguard kids and deter cover ups. We’re told that “the truth shall set you free.” And Martin Luther King once said “No lie lives forever.”
Yet bishops across this country, and the world, continue to keep secret hundreds of thousands of pages of documents about crimes and cover ups, while claiming they’re “transparent,” they’ve “reformed” and they want “healing” and “prevention.”
We urge parents, parishioners and the public to remember that child sex crimes and cover ups in the church are still taking place now. In the few years right after the Spotlight Team’s revelations in 2002, we saw some improvements in how bishops dealt with child molesting clerics. But for the last decade, bishops have largely been moving backwards and working even harder and smarter to conceal child sex crimes.
Why? Because they now know they can get by with protecting predators and endangering kids. Only three US bishops have resigned because of this scandal (Law, Piche and Finn). Only one was criminally convicted (Finn, who withheld evidence of child sex crimes from law enforcement). Many complicit clerics have since been promoted. And because there continues to be a grave shortage of priests and seminarians, so bishops desperately cling to even sexually troubled clerics.
To its credit, the film acknowledges that years before the Boston Globe’s award-winning investigation, there were earlier waves of nation-wide attention on pedophile priests, notably in 1985 and 1993. This is important to remember because after every way, church officials pledged to “do better” only to break those promises and continue to act recklessly, callously, deceitfully and secretively.
We hope millions will see and discuss this important and acclaimed film. We hope it will encourage more journalists to look harder at and dig deeper into clergy sex cases. We hope attorneys who handle these cases will go through their files and see what information they may have that could and should still be made public. We hope the film will prod police, prosecutors, judges and juries to look more skeptically on claims made by Catholic officials in child sex and cover up cases.
Finally, we hope the film will prod more victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to step forward, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing. And we hope that everyone will be reminded that no institution can investigate itself and that child sex crimes and cover ups must be reported to the independent, unbiased professionals in law enforcement, not by self-serving, secretive church bureaucrats.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)