My husband and I watched the Oscar-nominated film Spotlight for our anniversary. It shared the true story of how the “spotlight” crew of the Boston Globe exposed the scandal of the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic priesthood. The reporters were also able to prove that Boston’s Cardinal Law knew it was going on, yet did nothing except move the priests to other parishes and pay a meager fee to the victims.
It was a great movie.
Although it may be difficult for Catholics to look at the failures of their church, sometimes it’s necessary to have our eyes be pried open to the truth–whether we like it or not. Over and over the scripture warns God’s people against being “blind” or “dull of hearing” to the message of God. The prophets always cried out against those who carried the name of God, yet lived in way that was disobedient to God’s will. One reason the rebellion of God’s people is especially horrendous is because the sin that’s being committed is blamed on God!
[I’ve included the atheist Christopher Hitchens’ wonderful, courageous, yet tragic expose of the sins and corruption of the Catholic church in the video below. In the video he mentions Cardinal Law and a long list of Catholic sins in front of “His Grace.”]
In one scene, the Globe’s investigative reporters (played by Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams) discussed the impact the scandals had on their church attendance. Although they both were raised as Catholics, they could no longer attend mass. This was a painful decision for them, yet the hypocrisy they saw made it impossible for them to go back to the Catholic church.
This made me happy in some ways and sad in other ways. It made me happy because the reporters realized they could no longer participate in a religion that covered up the systemic abuse of children. It seems to me that this was an appropriate response to the disgusting truth of what was exposed. (I wonder how anybody can understand the magnitude of what the Globe reporters uncovered and still give honor to an institution that is rampant with secret sin!) At the end of the movie, there was an extensive list of other cities and countries where priestly pedophilia was exposed. The scripture that says, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2; KJV) is a warning to religious leadership at all levels in the Catholic church.
Furthermore, instead of dealing with its sins honestly and openly, the Catholic church didn’t show any true concern for the child victims. Instead, they swept the sin of the priests under a rug, allowing the sexual abuse to continue and even expand. The church, which demands the confession and contrition of their parishioners, refused to place the same requirement of confession and repentance upon themselves. Instead the Catholic hierarchy kept the sin in the dark and promoted those who covered it up.
It made me sad because I wondered if the reporters went so far as to stop having faith completely. If I could say something to those who question the truth of the Christian faith because of the failures of the Catholic church, I would explain that the Catholic church doesn’t obey God.
The Protestant church was founded as a result of their protest against the way the Catholic church had changed over the ages. The early cry of those who saw these changes (by priests such as Erasmus) was “ad fontes.” This was a call to return to the original doctrines and practices of the church as found in the scriptures.
For example, the priesthood isn’t part of the teaching of the Gospel. According to the teachings of Paul, all believers are now priests and kings before the Lord. We are a “royal priesthood.” The veil to the “Holy of Holies” where God’s presence was found was torn, and the way to God was opened, as a result of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. There is no longer a need for the priesthood in the Kingdom of God! Yet the Catholic church maintains a priesthood. This is NOT biblical.
The Catholic church also demands that this unbiblical priestly class needs to remain unmarried. 1 Timothy 3 describes the qualifications of “bishops” (or pastors). One of the qualifications is that the man be “the husband of one wife.” This doesn’t mean the bishop HAS to be married, but it shows that the New Testament doesn’t demand celibacy from its religious leaders either. In fact, in 1 Timothy 4 one of the “doctrines of devils” that reveals those who have departed from the faith is that they forbid to marry!
Suppression of sexual desire isn’t part of the plan and creation of God. He created us to have passion and longings for this kind of human connection. Yet the Catholic Church demands that its leaders remain obligated to the unnatural and extra-biblical law of priestly celibacy.
If the Catholic Church was truly representing the will and character of God, then they would stop this evil requirement that contributes to fulfilling natural desires through secretive and perverted methods, causing their leaders to become predators of our most innocent and precious treasure.
For anyone who sees this evil and wants to flee away from it, I would implore you, please don’t give up on faith in God and his Word because the Catholic church is disobedient to the truth. Give up on the Catholic church and come out of the institution, just like the Boston Globe reporters did. God is not to blame for the sins of those who disobey his Word.