Here’s an interesting (and short) film from the New York Times about Jason Berry, the journalist who first wrote about the Catholic Church’s child sex abuse scandal in 1985 — several years before the Boston Globe broke the scandal wide open.
In the Op-Doc, Berry wrestles with a number of questions he’s been thinking about in the decades since his first story:
So why did it take another decade or more for this scandal to truly break? And when is a society willing to face facts that may already be sitting in plain sight? In the short documentary above, Mr. Berry grapples with those questions and with what it means to spend years ringing an alarm bell that nobody is willing to hear.
Part of the answer involves recognizing that abuse like this isn’t the work of one bad egg or one particular diocese. It’s systemic. It’s baked into the Church itself. It can’t be ignored or wished away by people desperate to defend Catholicism at all costs.
While it’s not at the same scale by any means, I’ve noticed a similar problem when posting anything about predators in other religious traditions. There’s always a message or comment about how I’m picking on low-hanging fruit, or how one person doesn’t represent the whole denomination, or how the culprit was clearly suffering from other issues. How many stories does it take before people figure out that the problem isn’t one awful person but rather a faith-based structure that protects the worst kinds of abuse?