"It's very hard to say no to God," explains the victim of a "paedophile" priest, interviewed by a journalist from the Boston Globe as part of the Spotlight investigation team, which gives the title to Tom McCarthy's film released in US-theatres this January 27th, 2016 and which can be seen all around the globe.
An impeccable Hollywoodian film that recreates as closely as possible the investigation led by these journalists on a very sensitive issue: the protection offered for thirty years by the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, Bernard Law, to the priests of his diocese, perpetrators of sexual abuse of children. If in 2003 the Spotlight journalists obtained the Pulitzer Prize for their investigation, the film about their feat has won 9 awards to date, starting with the Oscar for best film, and will certainly obtain others, at the next Cannes Festival, for instance.
To attack the most vulnerable
Religion and sex, two taboos, which supposedly has nothing to do with each other. Whenever they meet, the result is explosive. The "civilized" world, which is so shocked by the primitive barbarism of "Jihad alnnikah" [gender jihad] of the "Islamic State" is struggling to confront his own turpitude, such as those misnamed paedophile priests. Paedophile means "someone who loves children"; however, those priests who abuse children, boys and girls, ranging from fondling to rape sometimes followed by murder, do not do it because they love children, but only because they know they can take advantage of the weak and vulnerable. These predators are paedocriminals, period! SNAP [Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests], the association of victims of abuse by priests, now has over 12,000 members in 56 countries, which gives an idea of the scale of the phenomenon, which has nothing marginal about it.
Just like the Islamic State that manipulates poor Arab youth to recruit them, these priests prey on the poorest in society to benefit from them. "Religion plays a very important role in the lives of the poor in Boston" recognizes a victim in the film, "The priests locate the poorest and most vulnerable as victims to ensure they will say nothing," said one of the investigators, played by actor Mark Ruffalo.
The revelations of the Boston Globe from January 2002 had a real snowball effect and led to revelations of similar cases around the world, not only in the Catholic Church, but in all churches, and more generally, organizations and institutions where children are gathered under the authority of adults.
As shown by the scandal that is currently shaking the Catholic Church in France, with the case of Cardinal Archbishop of Lyon Mgr. Barbarin, the top hierarchy has generally behaved like in Boston, applying the law of the omerta, the silence of the Sicilian mafia. The Boston Globe broke this law and set the example.
A lesson in journalism
Spotlight should go into the curricula of all schools of journalism and training to citizen media. First, the Spotlight journalists are not supermen or superwomen but ordinary Bostonians and baseball fans. Then, they are hard workers working 15 hours a day and only going to cafes to meet with witnesses. They have a single concern: to seek the truth. But that never lets them forget that they must ensure the protection of their sources, beginning with the victims who testify and to whom they demonstrate empathy that is not feigned. And they know to be patient, take their time and adapt to the temporalities of their sources. They are aware that the premature publication of partial results of the investigation could ruin efforts to discover the full extent of the case. Thus, what began as an investigation of one criminal priest extends to 7, then 13, then 90 priests in the diocese of Boston alone, who created more than 1000 victims.
By publishing its revelations, in more than 600 articles in a year, the Boston Globe showed that the strength of the fourth power can come from something other than a scoop, a buzz, and scandal at any cost, but instead from the words of the weak, the voiceless. The newspaper was able to win a battle against the formidable 'second power' , the Catholic Church in Boston, where Catholics constitute nearly half the population. But this battle is not just about Catholics.
Wherever the poor survive in ignorance, their children are choice prey for predators drunk on power who abuse them and reduce them to silence in the name of a higher entity, usually a God. Hence the universality of this lesson from Boston.