Vatican Meets Hollywood: Media Empire Strikes Back on Pope Francis

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* Pope Francis, a modern media master, has mostly garnered public adulation for almost two years. That may be changing, for example, with an important new Hollywood film, “Spotlight”, about the Boston Globe’s massive investigation of the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal. The Boston Globe’s award winning efforts to investigate clerical child abuse had led to the current critical juncture in the Catholic Church’s, and even in world religious, history.

* The Globe began documenting extensive child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and the related cover-up by Catholic bishops, especially Cardinal Bernard Law, in January 2002. Law and Pope Francis have an extended history, including serving together on a standing papal commission on the family after Law fled Boston.

* Since 2002, this abuse story has sadly exploded, first in Boston, then nationally and now in many countries around the world. The escalating disclosures continue, and have shaken the very foundation of the Catholic Church, even leading last year to the first papal resignation in 600 years.

* As Pope Francis struggles to contain this explosion through secretive Vatican proceedings, Francis is currently facing, as discussed below, an ongoing and thorough governmental investigation in Australia and will likely soon face a similar investigation in the UK. Now Hollywood will soon amplify and likely exacerbate Pope Francis’ child abuse scandal woes.

* In September, a cast of Hollywood stars, including Film Critics’ Best Actor award winner Michael Keaton (who reportedly was raised in Pennsylvania as an Irish American Catholic), Liev Schreiber,Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Stanley Tucci, began shooting the movie titled “Spotlight,’’ about the Globe’s earlier Pulitzer Prize winning investigation of Boston Cardinal Law’s massive priest child abuse cover-up. Keaton, famous for his Batman role, had been raised in Pennsylvania, a state with a reportedly high incidence of priest child abuse of children. Will Batman tame the Catholic hierarchy?

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