May 20, 2005

Returning Spotlight to Sins in Boston

The New York Times

Published: May 20, 2005

Retirement works wonders. When Cardinal Bernard F. Law led a memorial mass for Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica last month, it was as if his long tenure as archbishop of Boston had been unblemished, his resignation under pressure in 2002 forgotten.

Even the cardinal seemed to have banished unpleasant memories. When the ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos veered from the topic of John Paul II's legacy to ask the former archbishop if he thought he could have done more to address the problem of pedophile priests, Cardinal Law looked as if he had been slapped. "You know, I, I don't know that this is a time to be reflecting on that issue," the cardinal replied stiffly, before adding that of course he deplored his and others' failures.

John Paul II's death and the election of Pope Benedict XVI helped divert public attention from the issue, which only three years ago dominated newspapers and Sunday sermons. "Our Fathers," a Showtime movie tomorrow about the uncovering of the sexual abuse in the Boston Diocese, is a jarring reminder of the crimes that were covered up or excused for generations.

The film, based on David France's book "Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal" (Broadway Books, 2004), turns the spotlight back to Boston and the shattered lives of Catholic children. The film's scrutiny is relentless, but respectful and not without mercy: "Our Fathers" is not a horror story about monsters in clerical collars, but a horrifying story of sick priests and their innocent victims.

Posted by kshaw at May 20, 2005 06:14 AM