April 11, 2005

Dramatizing a Scandal That Rocked the Church

The New York Times


Published: April 11, 2005

Alan Horne and his family had just finished Easter dinner at his home in a suburb outside of Boston when his 82-year-old mother made a request: she wanted to watch the DVD sitting atop his television, titled "Our Fathers."

Neither was a disinterested viewer.

The movie, which will have its premiere on Showtime next month, represents the first attempt by Hollywood to use real names and events to dramatize the sexual abuse scandal in the Boston archdiocese. And among the stories it tells is that of Mr. Horne, now 45, who as a boy was repeatedly molested by a parish priest, the Rev. Joseph Birmingham, who has since died.

Mr. Horne had confided the abuse to his mother for the first time several years ago, but as she watched an advance copy of the two-hour movie, she began to boil as never before. This was particularly true as Cardinal Bernard F. Law (played by Christopher Plummer) was shown struggling during a withering legal deposition. Under questioning by a lawyer (Ted Danson) representing many victims, the cardinal acknowledged that he and his deputies had shuttled priests like Father Birmingham from one parish to another while suppressing accusations of abuse made against them.

"It lit her up like a Christmas tree," Mr. Horne said of his mother's reaction to the film. "She sat there and she started to ask me questions, questions she had never asked me before.

Posted by kshaw at April 11, 2005 01:29 AM