Part 1 of this series explained why you should see Spotlight for you and your own Catholic faith, but here's what you can say to your friends about the movie:
1. Acknowledge the truth.
In his visit to the U.S. in September, Pope Francis said this about the scandal: “God weeps.”
“Those who covered this up are guilty,” he said. “There are even some bishops who covered this up. It's something terrible…The people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones violated that trust and caused them great pain. Those who have survived this abuse have become true heralds of mercy. Humbly we owe each of them our gratitude…I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately…”
Pope Francis’ comments are a pretty good starting point. Take responsibility and apologize for the hurt that this has caused the person. White said, “Pope Francis spoke so beautifully about this….and I hope other people in the Church follow that example....People will talk about this issue, and we have to be on the front lines — we owe it to the world around us to talk about it.”
2. Mention the changes being made.
“Don’t end the conversation where the film ends it,” as White put it to me. As I mentioned before, the Church is the leading organization when it comes to implementing protection for minors and victims of sexual abuse. In 2013, just after being appointed pope, Pope Francis created the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a group whose specific job is to come up with proposals that will bring about reform in parishes.
The pope also set up a tribunal to specifically to discipline bishops in question and approved an exception to a Vatican hiring freeze, imposed to allow the tribunal to attract qualified personnel. Today, most diocesan websites have sections just on child protection with resources to documents and who to contact about the issue. There is more to be done, but the Church is definitely taking action.
3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Here’s what it all comes down to: We are a broken Church. We were started by Christ himself, but that does not solve the brokenness of our humanity.
“Some priests — not all, not most — some,” as Bishop Robert Barron puts it, gravely messed up. And it was not, and is not, okay. We fell into corruption and have undergone a deep purification of our Church.
However, the sin of some within a good body does not negate the good of the body. It also does not negate the very many other good people, or the other good things the Church does: works of charity, the institution of hospitals, helping the homeless, etc.
Leaving the Church doesn’t make the problem better. That being said, White added, “Don’t…cast any expectations on them — there will be, for some individuals, pure trauma that stays with them for the rest of their lives, and we as a Church have to feel that with them, and being acutely aware of this is our responsibility. We have to continue to respond and help them cope.”
4. We can’t completely erase the suffering, and there is no answer to suffering other than God himself.
We’ve made progress — this issue isn’t behind us — but we have taken responsibility. And we can continue to progress as we implement serious changes. We should boldly allow ourselves to suffer with victims, if we have the courage to let our hearts be moved by them.
But at the end of the day, do we have all the answers to their suffering? Can we take it away? No.
In the end, healing is God’s work. And the best thing we can do in the meantime is follow Jesus’ example: weep with them.