While Hollywood and The Boston Globe would want you to believe that the new movie Spotlight is an impartial dramatization of the paper’s 2002 reporting on sex abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston, the truth is something else entirely.
As Spotlight slowly makes its way to theaters across the country, mainstream media movie reviewers are grossly distorting the truth about the Catholic Church sex abuse story.
“The Spotlight team found that those in power knew about the abuse. That included the head of the Boston Archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law, who continued the pattern of moving Father John Geoghan from parish to parish despite his history of serially molesting boys.” (WBUR, 9/4/15)
Not even close. The mainstream media won’t tell you this, but the Boston Globe‘s reporting routinely minimized the critical role that secular psychologists played in the entire Catholic Church abuse scandal. Time after time, trained “expert” psychologists around the country repeatedly insisted to Church leaders that abusive priests were fit to return to ministry after receiving “treatment” under their care.
Indeed, one of the leading experts in the country recommended to the Archdiocese of Boston in both 1989 and 1990 that – despite Geoghan’s two-decade record of abuse – it was both “reasonable and therapeutic” to return Geoghan to active pastoral ministry including work “with children.”
The Globe‘s rank hypocrisy
And it is not as if the Globe could plead ignorance to the fact that the Church had for years been sending abusive priests to therapy and then returning them to ministry on the advice of prominent and credentialed doctors. As we reported earlier this year, back in 1992 – a full decade before the Globe unleashed its reporters against the Church – the Globe itself was enthusiastically promoting in its pages the psychological treatment of sex offenders – including priests – as “highly effective” and “dramatic.”
The Globe knew that the Church’s practice of sending abusive priests off to treatment was not just some diabolical attempt to deflect responsibility and cover-up wrongdoing, but a genuine attempt to treat aberrant priests that was based on the best secular scientific advice of the day.
Yet a mere ten years later, in 2002, the Globe acted in mock horror that the Church had employed such treatments. It bludgeoned the Church for doing in 1992 exactly what the Globe itself said it should be doing. The hypocrisy is off the charts.
The Church’s secrecy that wasn’t
“‘As soon as we discovered that the church had made secret payments to victims of other priests – which one of the attorneys referred to as hush money – we began to realize that of course the church did know, that it had to know, and that its sole interest wasn’t in the children,’ [ex-Boston Globe editor] Walter Robinson said, ‘it was in keeping the story quiet’.” (WBUR, 9/4/15)
While Hollywood and the Globe would want you to believe that the Catholic Church demanded secrecy from victims when doling out settlements, the truth is that it was the other way around: It was the victims who had demanded secrecy from the Church.
How do we know this? For starters, even the Globe itself has finally admitted this.
In an article on Monday June 3, 2002, the Boston Globe buried this crucial admission from Boston contingency lawyer Mitchell Garabedian: “Garabedian said he harbors no regrets about the settlements he negotiated in secrecy, often at his clients’ insistence. ‘They were embarrassed, and many victims thought they were the only ones,’ he said.”
In other words, Robinson’s claim is simply bogus.
Missing in action on secular sex abuse
Just last week, Boston television network WCVB unleashed a startling revelation on its evening news:
“[WCVB] found in recent years, on average, the licenses of 15 Massachusetts educators are suspended or revoked each year for sexual misconduct. But there aren’t always charges.”
15 teachers. Each and every year in Massachusetts schools. Suspended for sexual misconduct. And almost all of these cases never see the inside of a courtroom.
Compare this with the Archdiocese of Boston, where the last time a priest was publicly accused of contemporaneous abuse of a minor was in January 2002, thirteen years ago. So according to the findings of WCVB’s investigation, there has been nearly 200 public school educators found to have abused students in Massachusetts since the last time a priest was publicly accused.
So where is the Boston Globe on this explosive story? It has not published a single syllable about WCVB’s stunner. The paper and its crack “Spotlight” team are nowhere to be found.
Instead, the Globe simply continues to promote itself ad nauseum with article after article about the new Spotlight movie, in which Hollywood predictably does violence to the truth in its attempt to bash the Church.
While Hollywood and the Boston Globe would want you to believe that the new movie Spotlight is an impartial dramatization of the paper’s 2002 reporting on sex abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston, the truth is something else entirely.
Dave Pierre is one of the country’s leading observers of the media’s coverage of the Catholic Church abuse narrative. Dave is the author of two critically acclaimed books, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church and Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories.
Dave Pierre’s book Sins of the Press, all about the Globe’s reporting on the Church, is available here.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published by mrcNewsBusters.