Accountability still missing from Catholic church


USA Today

You can’t expect a movie, even one as riveting as Spotlight, to change the culture of a centuries-old institution like the Catholic Church. But perhaps the film can remind the church of its unfinished business in confronting a decades-long cover-up of rampant child molestation.

The movie depicts an investigation by the Spotlight reporting team at The Boston Globe, which broke the news in January 2002 and brought international attention to a sickening scandal in Boston that has since engulfed the church around the world. In the United States alone, more than 17,000 victims have reported sexual abuse, going back as far as 1950, involving about 6,400 priests in 100 cities.

Yet, not once in the past 14 years has a single U.S. bishop, let alone a cardinal, been removed from ministry for a role in the scandal. Perhaps the church could not have prevented child molesters from entering the priesthood, but bishops and cardinals could have stopped the crimes of serial predators. Many children would have been spared had religious leaders done what you’d expect any decent person to do: Report alleged crimes to authorities and, at the very least, keep molesters away from children. Often, they did neither.

Reports of abuse were ignored. Predator priests were sent for “treatment,” then shuffled off to other parishes, often to molest again. When lawsuits threatened to blow the church’s cover, the cases were settled secretly.

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