Spotlight movie

Beyond 'administrative' affairs: Do bishops realize that anger in pews puts them in crosshairs?

Beyond 'administrative' affairs: Do bishops realize that anger in pews puts them in crosshairs?

In many ways, recent remarks by Cardinal Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga at the Spanish-language website Religion Digital are the perfect summary of where we are, right now, in the various scandals linked to the life and times of ex-cardinal Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick.

Not that you would know that, the first time you read the most important quotation in that report. This was one of those cases in which you had to read the quote three or four times — focusing on a few strategic turns of phrase — to understand what was going on.

It also helps to remember that Cardinal Maradiaga is the chair of the inner ring of cardinals who advise Pope Francis. This isn’t a quote from the Throne of St. Peter, but it’s very close.

Ready? Read carefully.

"It does not seem correct to me to transform something that is of the private order into bombshell headlines exploding all over the world and whose shrapnel is hurting the faith of many," said Cardinal Maradiaga, in a Religion Digital interview. "I think this case of an administrative nature should have been made public in accordance with more serene and objective criteria, not with the negative charge of deeply bitter expressions."

Now, what does the word “something” mean? This appears to have been a comment about the McCarrick case, as opposed to the wider world of clergy child-abuse scandals.

Apparently, this Francis insider believes that this case is “administrative” and “of the private order” and, thus, not something for public inquiry and headlines (or published testimonies by former papal nuncios to the United States). In my national “On Religion” column this week, I also noted this quote from Maradiaga:

On another "private order," "administrative" issue in church affairs, he said the "notion of a gay lobby in the Vatican is out of proportion. It is something that exists much more in the ink of the newspapers than in reality."

All of this, and much more, came up for discussion in this week’s “Crossroads” podcast (click here to tune that in). Think of it as our latest attempt to answer the question people keep asking: What is this Catholic mess really about?


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The Boston Globe writes on Catholic priests, sex and the kids who resulted from it

The Boston Globe writes on Catholic priests, sex and the kids who resulted from it

The Boston Globe, which made headlines, won a Pulitzer and starred in a movie about its investigations into a vast scandal of sexually abusive priests, has come up with a postscript. Of the priests who didn’t go after underage children but who slept with consenting adult women, what happens to the resulting child?

The Globe has come out with a two-parter this month that answers that question. And it’s a depressing answer. Fifteen years have passed since its reporters first broke the sexual abuse stories and this time, there's videos to accompany the stories; videos of teary priests' children who can't get through a taping without breaking down.

The answer as to what happens to these kids is dismal. Most are heartbroken for life. Their only consolation is that, in knowing who their dad really is, all sorts of pieces in their lives that never made sense before suddenly do.

The first part begins with Jim Graham, a 48-year-old man who is realizing some things about his past do not add up. Then -

By any reasonable measure, there are thousands of others who have strong evidence that they are the sons and daughters of Catholic priests, though most are unaware that they have so much company in their pain. In Ireland, Mexico, Poland, Paraguay, and other countries, in American cities big and small — indeed, virtually anywhere the church has a presence — the children of priests form an invisible legion of secrecy and neglect, a Spotlight Team review has found.
Their exact number can’t be known, but with more than 400,000 priests worldwide, many of them inconstant in their promise of celibacy, the potential for unplanned children is vast. And this also comes through loud and plain: The sons and daughters of priests often grow up without the love and support of their fathers, and are often pressured or shamed into keeping the existence of the relationship a secret. They are the unfortunate victims of a church that has, for nearly 900 years, forbidden priests to marry or have sex, but has never set rules for what priests or bishops must do when a clergyman fathers a child.

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After 'Spotlight' Oscar euphoria, the hangover: Worry about the future of religion journalism

After 'Spotlight' Oscar euphoria, the hangover: Worry about the future of religion journalism

If Bob Smietana is worried about the future of religion journalism in America, then we all should be.

Just the other night, Smietana — immediate past president of the Religion Newswriters Association — joined his Godbeat colleagues in celebrating the best picture Oscar for "Spotlight.

"Spotlight" is, of course, a "based on a true story" movie about Boston Globe journalists who won a 2003 Pulitzer Prize for their investigation into the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal.

But after celebrating Sunday night, Smietana has a must-read piece today on the Washington Post's Acts of Faith blog that asks this timely and important question:

‘Spotlight’ just won an Oscar. So why am I so worried about the future of religion journalism?

Why indeed?

Even before reading Smietana's op-ed, regular GetReligion readers probably have some inkling of his concerns.

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The Oscars put the spotlight on “Spotlight” and on news reporting about religion

The Oscars put the spotlight on “Spotlight” and on news reporting about religion

GetReligion readers are well aware that quality news reporting in the print media, and investigative reporting, are continually sliding in America due to shrinking news holes, budgets and staffing. Nostalgia aside, this has obvious negative consequences for a republic.

On Sunday, Hollywood did its bit to boost the news biz by giving the best picture Oscar to the must-see “Spotlight,” correctly regarded as the best movie depiction ever of real newspaper work. The film, of course, depicts The Boston Globe effort that exposed the extent of Catholic priests’ sexual molestation in the area archdiocese thanks to shoe-leather fieldwork and documents gained by a strategic lawsuit and a state judge’s edict.

Let’s admit that the entertainment business will not weep over travail that afflicts Catholicism. However that should not obscure the fact that the entire church and its parishoners owe a deep debt to the Globe team for unearthing accurate information.

Along with the hurrahs, religion reporters and other news people should reflect on lessons to be learned from this episode. Put bluntly, where were the mainstream news media prior to the Globe’s 2002 publication? There’s a good article waiting to be written in coming days about who gave how much coverage and when.

Some analysts imply that nobody did much of anything prior to the Globe extravaganza. Not so. The Associated Press faithfully supplied the nationwide press corps with coverage, outrage by outrage. There were good articles in the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Time and elsewhere.

Yet truth is, while local dailies did their duty the national “mainstream” print media (that pretty much set the agenda for TV and radio news) failed to provide sufficient, sweeping examinations with dramatic display about the over-all Catholic abuse syndrome, as opposed to this or that individual case.

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Three things to know about 'Spotlight,' the new movie about journalists investigating clergy sexual abuse

Three things to know about 'Spotlight,' the new movie about journalists investigating clergy sexual abuse

I saw "Spotlight" over the weekend and loved it.

Of course, I'm a journalist, so I obviously would appreciate a film in which all the actors dress as crummily as me.

Seriously, I identify with the reporters and editors who meticulously dig to tell an important story. They knock on doors to interview key players, sue for access to crucial court documents and develop relationships with inside sources.   

With cheap ink pens and notepads as their major tools, they change the world. That's journalism at its best.

For Godbeat watchers, here are three important things to know about "Spotlight":

1. It's a great movie.

A Wall Street Journal reviewer gushed:

To turn a spotlight fittingly on “Spotlight,” it’s the year’s best movie so far, and a rarity among countless dramatizations that claim to be based on actual events. In this one the events ring consistently — and dramatically — true.
The film was directed byTom McCarthy from a screenplay he wrote with Josh Singer. It takes its title from the name of the Boston Globe investigative team that documented, in an explosive series of articles in 2002, widespread child abuse by priests in the Catholic archdiocese of Boston, and subsequent cover-ups by church officials. The impact of the series, which prompted the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law and won a Pulitzer Prize for the paper, was cumulative and profound — what began as a local story ramified into an international scandal. Remarkably, Mr. McCarthy, his filmmaking colleagues and a flawless ensemble cast have captured their subject in all its richness and complexity. “Spotlight” is a fascinating procedural; a celebration of investigative reporting; a terrific yarn that’s spun with a singular combination of restraint and intensity; and a stirring tale, full of memorable characters, that not only addresses clerical pedophilia but shows the toll it has taken on its victims.

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