Sins of the Fathers
ChrisOLeary.com > Sins > Sacrificed > SPOTLIGHT and Since

If you’ve seen the movie SPOTLIGHT — and, if you haven’t, you should — you know how the story goes.

In 2001 the Boston Globe, and eventually SPOTLIGHT — the Globe team that does deep, investigative dives into stories — after screwing up and burying numerous stories about Father John J. Geoghan, under new editor Marty Baron finally starts digging into the story behind a July 29, 2001 Eileen McNamara column about the handling of the case of Father John J. Geoghan by Cardinal Bernard Law.

The problem is that, while the revelations laid out in the movie SPOTLIGHT led to some major changes in the Catholic Church, their ultimate impact was limited.

That is due both to how the Catholic Church is organized and how lay Catholics think about survivors.

The way to think about the Catholic Church is like a kingdom run by a number of all-powerful princes. The  King is the Pope and Princes are the bishops and archbishops who are in charge of the church’s thousands of dioceses and archdioceses.

Critically, these Princes of the Catholic Church are accountable ONLY to the King.

To the Pope.

While they have various advisory bodies, like the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, those bodies have no power over bishops and archbishops.

Only the Pope does.

Bishops and archbishops are effectively dictators -- ideally, but not always, benevolent -- who report to, and are held accountable by, ONLY the Pope.

That’s important because it has SEVERELY limited the impact of the changes the SPOTLIGHT revelations led to, starting with the 2002 Dallas Charter.

The reality of the situation of the Catholic Church is that, while the provisions dealing with the protection of minor children HAVE been widely adopted — kids in the Catholic Church ARE, without a doubt, generally safer — the adoption of provisions dealing with the treatment of survivors has been spotty.

At best.

And that’s despite the Pope’s de facto survivors bill of rights VOS ESTIS.

For example, while my own (arch)diocese of St. Louis has put considerable time and effort into its Protecting God’s Children program, by policy it does NOTHING to help survivors.

At best.

Per policy, the only thing the Archdiocese of St. Louis will do for a survivor who comes to them for help is provide them with the NAME of a therapist if they don’t already have one.

They don’t pay for ANYTHING.

What’s worse, as a result of my efforts to advocate for myself and others, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has subjected me to a Smear Campaign.

And that's just a part of what I call the Abuse of the Abused.