In a word, no. I had no idea.
In 2001 I was in my late 20s and working two, sometimes 3 jobs. Full time during the day, restaurant and catering gigs at night. Watching the news was not much of a priority. The events of 9/11 changed that a bit, but after a few weeks of coverage I couldn’t take the bad news anymore and started watching the Food Network non-stop (a behavior repeated after the Virginia Tech massacre but even more intense). So I don’t remember the shockwave that rocked New England when The Boston Globe broke the Catholic Church sex scandal.
Fast forward to 2016. I went to the movies with a friend, and she is one that will enjoy some of the more cerebral films with me (unlike the chick flick tradition I have with my mom on New Years Day). We started with lunch, then watched Star Wars again (for both of us), and then walked across the parking lot to the Criterion theater to watch Spotlight.
And again I find myself ashamed for not knowing the full story of something that was so noteworthy during my lifetime (see my eye-opening awareness of yet another event here). I knew that there was scandal in the church. I knew that there was a problem, almost a pathological issue, with a large percent of the clergy. And I remember feeling like the story never ended, kept finding more and more that were a problem.
I don’t know how to explain how much this movie moved me in a disturbing yet profound way. I felt shame, I felt empathy, I cried along with the reporter when he realized that a rehab house for accused priests was across the street from his home, and all the neighborhood children play nearby. I guess the two words I could use are disturbed and moved.
I have never read The Boston Globe. I enjoy the online blog for The Big Picture but had never heard of Spotlight, the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative team that is part of the Globe. And what they did was take one inappropriate priest and turn it into 87 local priests that had accusations that were buried by the church. And from there to thousands upon thousands of victims and accused priests worldwide.
I think if I had been Catholic it would have been even more disturbing for me. But I have to tell you, after the movie was over and before the credits rolled, the consequences of the article led to changes in many cities. And the city I live in? The city I was born and raised in?
It was on page three.