Recently, the Film Spotlight won an Oscar. This is serious news, for a film about religion and clerical cultures of sexual abuse to be feted and win in Hollywood. The world has sat up and taken notice. Here, in this article, Cardinal Sean O’Malley – a US Cardinal who leads a Vatican bureau on protection of minors, gives a response.
The film, which focuses on the work of the investigative reporters who spent months tracking down sealed court records, victims and abusive priests, does not depict abuse but shows the heavy emotional toll it took on survivors, many of whom turned to alcohol, drugs or suicide when unable to overcome their pain.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, today issued a statement regarding Spotlight, which won the Oscar for best picture on Sunday.
Spotlight is an important film for all impacted by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse. By providing in-depth reporting on the history of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the media led the Church to acknowledge the crimes and sins of its personnel and to begin to address its failings, the harm done to victims and their families and the needs of survivors. In a democracy such as ours, journalism is essential to our way of life. The media’s role in revealing the sexual abuse crisis opened a door through which the Church has walked in responding to the needs of survivors.
Protecting children and providing support for survivors and their families must be a priority in all aspects of the life of the Church.
We are committed to vigilant implementation of policies and procedures for preventing the recurrence of the tragedy of the abuse of children. These include comprehensive child safety education programs, mandatory background checks and safe environments training, mandatory reporting to and cooperating with civil authorities with regard to allegations of abuse, and caring for survivors and their families through the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach. The Archdiocese consistently provides counselling and medical services for survivors and family members who seek our help and we remain steadfast in that commitment. We continue to seek the forgiveness of all who have been harmed by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse and pray that each day the Lord may guide us on the path toward healing and renewal.