On a recent Sunday afternoon, 30 people came to discuss the film, Spotlight, and on the following Tuesday evening 11 others came to do the same. At both sessions, very good interchange happened around a sad topic. The discussion began with sharing impressions of the movie, then moved on to raising questions, both factual and speculative, about the content of the film, and then transitioned into a free-flowing exchange of ideas and reactions.
Most people thought the film did a good job of presenting the problems and the incidents of clergy sexual abuse of children. Attendees quickly moved from discussing the film itself to talking about the occurrences it addresses. There were questions about our own parish. Some of these came from people who have moved here since the early 1990s; some others came from longstanding parishioners, who also were able to answer some of the questions of those who have more recently arrived.
A lot of attention went to exploring what the Church has done to respond, both before and after the turn-of-the-century investigations took place. This offered the chance for us to know that, long before the Spotlight series, measures were taken in our archdiocese to assist victims and to prevent further abuse of children. These efforts need to be ongoing, and they are.
I thank all of those who came to the sessions. I think they were helpful, and I know some of you thought so too. There was a lot of anger shared, but also a good deal of wisdom, and those responses can sometimes be found in the same persons.
The Archdiocese of Boston maintains an office for dealing with protection of children and for outreach to those affected by past atrocities linked to the to phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors. It is called the Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection. Its phone number is this: 617-746-5995.