Publisher’s Notebook: Torn Between Faith and Profession

The Frontiersman

July 8, 2018

By Dennis Anderson

I’m a cradle Catholic. I typically avoid movies concerning the church. Hollywood doesn’t always portray Catholics and our faith in the best of lights. When the movie ‘Spotlight’ was released, I had zero interest in watching the film. ‘Spotlight’ tells the story behind the Boston Globe’s investigative journalism team’s efforts to uncover the widespread of child sex abuse by priests in the Boston area. Subsequently, they uncovered that the church not only knew about these priests, but made unbelievable efforts to conceal the epidemic.

All told, there were over 90 priests confirmed to have been involved. The Globe’s investigation revealed that the church, lawyers and some of the faithful went to great links to keep the accusations quiet. The team also exposed the fact that psychologists working with the church believed that these priests could be rehabilitated. Some were declared cured and sent back into parishes only to abuse again. One such priest was John J. Geoghan, and since the mid-1990’s, more than 130 people have come forward with horrific tales of his abuse, according to the original Boston Globe article released in January of 2002. Geoghan was the early focus of the team because the church successfully had the court documents attached to his case sealed.

Released in 2015, the movie was critically acclaimed. Those involved in the movie raked in the awards in 2016 including the Academy Award of Best Picture. I’ll typically search out movies that are this lauded. I just wouldn’t budge on this one. Another shot fired at the faithful, I reconciled in my mind. But I had no idea what the movie was about, other than a scandal that I was personally in denial about.

One evening, while searching through Netflix for something to watch, ‘Spotlight’ appeared in the recently added folder. I checked out the trailer and decided to acquiesce. The trailer had me intrigued because it portrayed that the movie was focused on the passionate efforts of the Spotlight team. So, I watched.

At this time, I was in my first year as Publisher of the Frontiersman. As I watched the movie I never felt so conflicted. As the reporters dug deeper and actors portraying victims told their stories, I was riveted. My emotions ranged from disbelief because, after all, it’s just a movie to the embarrassment that I blindly followed my church to the point where it could do no wrong.

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