Although “Spotlight,” the new movie about how the Boston Globe exposed the Catholic sex abuse scandal, only went national yesterday and not too many people have seen it thus far, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops isn’t taking any chances, sending out “talking points” to every diocese in the country:
No doubt, the bishops are yearning for the old days of “Banned in Boston,” when they could torpedo works critical of the church like “Spotlight” before they became a problem. Although the “Banned in Boston” days were already long gone by the time the Boston Globe investigation broke, many people, Catholic or not, still had a certain degree of respect for the institution, especially with media-friendly personalities like Mother Teresa and John Paul II clogging the airways in the 1980s and 1990s. The fear of being labeled “anti-Catholic” was actually the main reason why the scandal wasn’t exposed until 2002, as opposed to, say, 1982. The abuse scandal caused much of this goodwill to vanish, especially among Catholics themselves; the number of pewsitting Catholics in the Northeast, formerly the stronghold of American Catholicism, took a hit that the church has never recovered from.
Earlier this week, there was a mass resignation of Mormons to protest that church’s new policy of treating LGBT people as “apostates” and their children (if any) as pariahs:
I was actually surprised by this news, since it’s my understanding that the Mormon church wields a great deal of power in Utah, parts of Idaho, and parts of Arizona, and there is a great deal of pressure to conform to the LDS Stepford Wives vision of life. Be that as it may, enough young Mormons have had it with their church’s views on homosexuality, and are demonstrating their displeasure in a very public way. It would have been nice to see that kind of mass resignation among Catholics in the wake of the abuse scandals — or any of the many other Catholic scandals, for that matter — but I guess the gradually drifting away that has occurred among the former faithful in Boston, New York, Chicago, etc. over the past ten or twelve years works just as well. Besides, I don’t think you can formally defect from the church anymore, which is a shame, because if there was a way to do it, I would:
Although I have a dislike of movie theaters in general (I haven’t been to one since I saw Dear White People, which was about a year ago), I definitely plan to see “Spotlight.” The people in the pews to whom the bishops’ “talking points” are addressed are probably the true believers who will stick to the institution through thick and thin, and won’t be seeing it anyway. Or rather, they are very comfortable with the way things are, and see no reason to question things or assume that their particular priest and/or bishop is trustworthy. I can already imagine the conservotrads at the National Catholic Register and EWTN fuming about how “anti-Catholic” the movie supposedly is. But as a snooty villager in Animal Crossing once told me, “It’s not talking trash if it’s true.”*