Monday, February 29, 2016

High-Five for Survivors

When a film on investigative journalism wins the Oscars, you know truth and justice have prevailed for once.

Spotlight actually won Best Picture, instead of a film about a guy getting attacked by a bear or a funny retelling of the 2008 economic crash.

Having lived with an editor launching investigative and other stories for 43 years, I had to applaud this victory.  "I guess wrinkled khakis a size too big are in now," tweeted one of his friends.

I watched the LA Times dig up the dirt on then-Archbishop Roger Mahony for moving sexually abusive priests around like checkers.  Over 500 victims are on record.

I followed the Boston Globe's reports starting in 2001; the hero, Marty Baron, had been a friend of my husband at the LA Times before he moved to  the New York Times and then the Globe.  He currently edits the Washington Post.

As a feminist and friend of sexual abuse survivors, I care deeply about these issues.  My pro-choice book on abortion included stories of Christian women abused by men connected to Protestant churches.

See also Our Stories Untold, a website with stories of sexualized violence within spiritual communities.  My friend Barbra Graber is one of the three founders of this website.

Producer Michael Sugar's words while holding the gold statue were spot on:

 “This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican,” producer Michael Sugar said in his acceptance speech. “Pope Francis, it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith.”

Backstage he continued:

That’s what this is really about — for all of us is to talk about this film and what happened and because these things are still happening. The story of Spotlight has really just begun.”

We can each do our part to end sexual abuse of those in authority over others, especially those with religious authority.

We can tell our story.  We can investigate and print the story.  We can make a film about it.  We can support others--such as by making a donation to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Another thing we can do is boycott the Roman Catholic church or any local church that condones a predator in its midst.  Don't go to a Catholic hospital, school, or college until abusers and their handlers are in jail.

I quit a tenured teaching position in a Catholic women's college over issues with the Catholic church, so go for it, my friends.

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