Spotlight's Oscar win, along with the movie itself, made me proud to be two things: a journalist and a lapsed Catholic.
The issues presented didn't begin and end in Boston, though.
In fact, just yesterday, a 147-page grand jury report was released that details how two Catholic bishops of a Pennsylvania diocese have been covering up cases of priests abusing children for years. The "covering up" included letting predator priests return to work.
"...Bishop James Hogan and Bishop Joseph Adamec chose to shield the institution and themselves from the 'scandal,'" the report said. "Because of their choices and failed leadership hundred of children suffered."
Similar to the events in Boston that Spotlight shows, the report described the use of euphemisms such as "sick leave" and "nervous exhaustion" to explain for a priest's relocation despite recent claims of child molestation.
The report includes various testimonies, some of which might be the reason for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's editor note "The following grand jury report contains graphic language. Reader discretion is advised."
While scrolling through these testimonials, a particular quote from Spotlight's Sacha Pfeiffer (portrayed by Rachel McAdams) came to mind, "I think language is going to be so important here. Just saying 'molest' isn't enough. People need to know what happened."
What's interesting about this is it both reveals how society is conditioned to automatically cast doubt on abuse victims and perhaps how we may even need a shock-factor for stories to stand out -- i.e. "'molest' isn't enough."
Whether or not these are true, the public report's language is important. These incidents should make people uncomfortable -- and hopefully wake up to the sad reality that is systemic cover-ups of child abuse.
According to the report, a victim went on a trip to Washington D.C. with Father David Arsenault, where he later awoke "to find Arsenault grinding his penis into the victim and kissing him."
The report continues, "On the ride back from Washington D.C. the victim asked Father Arsenault why he did it. Arsenault told the victim that he was gay and that 80% of Catholic priests are gay. The victim attempted to go on with life, twice attempting suicide."
The report states that Father David Aresenault remains in the ministry to this day.
Father John Boyle was first accused of sexual child abuse between 1958 and 1960, according to the report. In 1969, Boyle was accused of sexually abusing another child.
Bishop James Hogan's notes "indicate that it was believed there was believed there was 'sufficient' evidence for charges," the report states. However, Bishop Hogan placed Boyle on "sick leave," only for him to return to ministry less than a year later.
The report continues with descriptions of sexual abuse committed by Boyle between the years of 1971 and 1992, including forcing children to perform oral sex on him, anally raping an unconscious child, and more.
When Boyle died, he was still a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
Father Harold Burkhardt of St. Mary Conception Church in Altoona, Pennsylvania asked the victim of his sexual abuse, "What do you think God would say?" Without a response, Burkhardt stated, "God approved," according to the report.
With numerous other testimonials, involving at least 50 priests or religious leaders -- including that of Monsignor Francis B. McCaa, who groped and fondled the genitals of at least 15 boys -- the report also includes a "pay-out chart," created by Bishop Joseph Adamec.
The report describes the pay-out chart as, "A guide used to direct the judgements of the Diocese in the payment of claims and in the purchase of silence."
The chart appears as follows:
Level on Abuse Range of Payment
I. Above clothing, genital fondling $10,000 $25,000
II. Fondling under clothes; masturbation $15,000 $40,000
III. Oral sex $25,000 $75,000
IV. Sodomy; Intercourse $50,000 $175,000
The chart has footnotes with factors to determine an amount within the range, such as: number of occurrences, duration of abuse overtime, the age of the victim, etc., according to the report.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette states, "Hundreds of children were molested, raped and destined to lasting psychological trauma whose abuses were covered up by their bishops, other superiors and even compliant law enforcement officials in Blair and Cambria counties, the report said."
It sounds all too familiar to other incidents that have occurred within Roman Catholic church.
The Catholic Church even commissioned a study in 2014, which found that more than 4,000 priests had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years.
Of course, those are just cases that had been reported, rather than covered up.
If anything should be taken away from this, it's the Catholic Church doesn't just abuse children, but the system as well.
Bob Hoatson, who previously served as a priest but later revealed that he had been abused by Catholic brothers as a teen, now runs a nonprofit for survivors of clergy sex abuse.
"When that leader can then have ultimate authority over everyone in the organization - well, that's abuse of power," Hoatson told NPR. "When power is not shared, when authority is not delineated to various people in the organization, you're going to have serious, serious issues. And the pedestalization of the priesthood as a result of that - in other words, priests are other Christs."
Hoatson continued, "Anybody who develops an ego or a narcissism that is centered around, I'm as - almost as good as God; and he must practice, then, mandatory celibacy; and he has sexual urges - well, you add God and urges and boy, that little altar boy at 7 o'clock in the morning starts to look pretty good, in terms of outlets for sexual pleasures and gratifications."
If you or someone you know has been affected by this sort of abuse, visit: http://www.snapnetwork.org/.