To start researching for this post, I simply put the following words into the Google search bar:
sex abuse in the catholic church
On just the first page of results, this is what I found:
- Pope Francis’s top Vatican ally has just been charged with child sex abuse
- Senior Catholic Church officials have rarely faced charges in the sexual abuse of children. Here are a few who did.
- Catholic Church sex abuse scandals around the world
- Timeline: A look at the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals
- Database of Publicly Accused Priests in the United States
- Cardinal George Pell denies sex offense accusations: Church sex abuse by the numbers
Note – For all my blog posts involving research, I do my best to cite multiple sources that are credible.
It was absolutely overwhelming to see the hits from that simple six-word inquiry. Google started to complete what I wanted after I had only typed “sex abuse.”
As I was beginning to compose the structure of this post, I thought of two recent forms of “entertainment” that specifically focuses on this topic:
I’ve seen Spotlight (2015) three times now, and it’s one of those movies that’s made a lasting impression on me. I was pleased that it received recognition, critical acclaim, and a few Oscars. Despite the plot centering on something so horrific and sickening, it quickly rose to near the top of my all-time favorite movies. It’s a well-written, well-cast, and well-performed motion picture. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you do so. I have a feeling you will come to the end of the movie a changed person. I know I’m glad that I went to see it in theaters, and watched it several times since then.
I recently wrote a blog post about The Keepers (2017). It’s a decent documentary series that was created by Netflix, and another one that I recommend that people watch and (attempt to) digest. While not nearly as good as Spotlight, in my opinion, it’s still something valuable to see.
Here’s a few sources I found on Spotlight and The Keepers:
- Spotlight: The reporters who uncovered Boston’s Catholic child abuse scandal
- The story behind the ‘Spotlight’ movie
- The Keepers: ‘I’ve dealt with survivors and they’re sickened by the church’s response’
I was raised in the United Methodist Church, but I have attended many other churches of different denominations throughout my life – Baptist, Catholic, Congregational, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ.
I knew certain aspects were different from the United Methodist Sunday School and traditional 11:00 a.m. services that I attended nearly every Sunday, unless we were traveling or visiting family. Most Sundays until I went off to college, you would find me in a church. For example, I tasted my first Communion wine while attending a local church service with Christine Anzur and her family after a weekend sleepover in elementary school, and I nearly gagged. I was inherently used to King’s Hawaiian bread and Welch’s grape juice every first Sunday of the month at Aldersgate. I knew a few devout Catholics, and learning about Mass, cantors, and priests was fascinating and intriguing.
As I grew older, I started to have a lot of questions.
- What is celibacy?
- Why were priests celibate?
- What made them different from our pastor or minister? We had a female associate pastor when I was growing up (And we have a wonderful one now!), but why wasn’t a woman leading any of the Catholic churches?
Things like that. As a child and a teenager, I felt confident that I could trust the pastors at Aldersgate – They were all married men and devoted to their families.
I don’t remember the first time I heard about sex abuse in the Catholic Church, but I do clearly remember that my mind immediately starting racing with thoughts like, “Why? Why on Earth would a man of God do something so horrible? And, why haven’t we seen more of this in the news?”
As an adult, I’m finally starting to realize how deep and wide this cycle of abuse has run. I’m glad that priests, cardinals, and other officials are starting to be charged with these unspeakable crimes, but I know this is a never-ending saga. This is only the beginning.
Exposes, so to speak, like Spotlight and The Keepers, are glancing just the tip of this massive iceberg. This is bigger than what sank the Titanic. At the end of Spotlight, viewers are shown a list of places around the world where major abuse scandals took place. It was something immensely powerful. I already felt immensely sick from watching the movie, and seeing that long list just turned my stomach even further. It compelled me to do more than just watch the movie multiple times. It’s inspired me to do more research on the subject, and write blog posts like this one.
This is such a deep topic that I feel like I can’t possibly cover everything that’s happened over the years, or say everything that I want to in this one blog post.
For now, I plan to keep researching, watching / reading the news sources that I trust, and follow any new developments. I hope to publish another blog post, with hopefully some more good news, at some point in the future.
I also intend to watch more films and documentaries, as well as look into other forms of media, to observe the different portrayals of this incredible saga.
- Primal Fear (1996)
- Twist of Faith (HBO, 2005)
- Sex Crimes and the Vatican (BBC, 2006)
- Hand of God (Frontline, PBS, 2006)
- Doubt (2008)
- Secrets of the Vatican (Frontline, PBS, 2014)
This is a tough topic – One of the toughest that I’ve attempted to write about since starting this little blog of mine. I hope what I have written / presented is informative, to say the least.
I welcome any constructive comments, as well as recommendations of any compelling or interesting sources that you have come across.
Thanks for reading!
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂