Fitzgerald: Where’s the spotlight on innocent priests?

Boston Herald

Joe Fitzgerald Monday, November 30, 2015

If you’ve been following the brouhaha over the way some characters were portrayed in “Spotlight,” Hollywood’s version of how the Globe covered the priestly scandal that rocked the Catholic Church here, it’s tempting to feel sympathetic to someone who feels he was made to look like a jerk in order to juice up the script.

But lost in all of this bickering over what was said years ago is the disservice that was done to faithful priests whose unwarranted disgrace was the collateral damage of a rush to judgment.

They knew what it was to see themselves unfairly wrapped in a blanket indictment that turned a basic American tenet upside down; if you wore a Roman collar you were presumed guilty, not innocent.

But how do you prove something didn’t happen?

“When I go into a CVS or supermarket now,” a parochial vicar still in his 30s confided here at the time, “people either look through me as if I don’t exist or I get a contemptuous stare. When that happens, I feel like telling them, ‘Look, I didn’t do it!’ It’s as if they want to take it out on you personally.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if these are the same people who say, ‘Now let’s not profile all Middle Eastern men because a few blew up the World Trade Center.’ Yet they look at every one of us and wonder what we’re all about.”

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