Spotlight or the power of investigative journalism
by Rim Ben Fraj, English Translation by Jenny Bright, Tlaxcala, 09.04.2016.
which gives the title to Tom McCarthy’s film released in US-theatres
this January 27th, 2016 and which can be seen all around the globe.
An impeccable Hollywoodian film that recreates as closely as possible the investigation led by these journalists
on a very sensitive issue: the protection offered for thirty years by
the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, Bernard Law, to the priests of his
diocese, perpetrators of sexual abuse of children. If in 2003 the Spotlight
journalists obtained the Pulitzer Prize for their investigation, the
film about their feat has won 9 awards to date, starting with the Oscar
for best film, and will certainly obtain others, at the next Cannes
Festival, for instance.
Religion and sex, two taboos, which supposedly has nothing to do with
each other. Whenever they meet, the result is explosive. The
“civilized” world, which is so shocked by the primitive barbarism of
“Jihad alnnikah” [gender jihad] of the “Islamic
State” is struggling to confront his own turpitude, such as those
misnamed paedophile priests. Paedophile means “someone who loves
children”; however, those priests who abuse children, boys and girls,
ranging from fondling to rape sometimes followed by murder, do not do it
because they love children, but only because they know they can take
advantage of the weak and vulnerable. These predators are
paedocriminals, period! SNAP [Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests],
the association of victims of abuse by priests, now has over 12,000
members in 56 countries, which gives an idea of the scale of the
phenomenon, which has nothing marginal about it.
Just like the Islamic State that manipulates poor Arab youth to
recruit them, these priests prey on the poorest in society to benefit
from them. “Religion plays a very important role in the lives of the poor in Boston” recognizes a victim in the film, “The priests locate the poorest and most vulnerable as victims to ensure they will say nothing,” said one of the investigators, played by actor Mark Ruffalo.
The revelations of the Boston Globe from January 2002 had a
real snowball effect and led to revelations of similar cases around the
world, not only in the Catholic Church, but in all churches, and more
generally, organizations and institutions where children are gathered
under the authority of adults.
As shown by the scandal that is currently shaking the Catholic Church
in France, with the case of Cardinal Archbishop of Lyon Mgr. Barbarin,
the top hierarchy has generally behaved like in Boston, applying the law
of the omerta, the silence of the Sicilian mafia. The Boston Globe broke this law and set the example.
Spotlight should go into the curricula of all schools of journalism and training to citizen media. First, the Spotlight
journalists are not supermen or superwomen but ordinary Bostonians and
baseball fans. Then, they are hard workers working 15 hours a day and
only going to cafes to meet with witnesses. They have a single concern:
to seek the truth. But that never lets them forget that they must ensure
the protection of their sources, beginning with the victims who testify
and to whom they demonstrate empathy that is not feigned. And they know
to be patient, take their time and adapt to the temporalities of their
sources. They are aware that the premature publication of partial
results of the investigation could ruin efforts to discover the full
extent of the case. Thus, what began as an investigation of one criminal
priest extends to 7, then 13, then 90 priests in the diocese of Boston
alone, who created more than 1000 victims.
By publishing its revelations, in more than 600 articles in a year, the Boston Globe
showed that the strength of the fourth power can come from something
other than a scoop, a buzz, and scandal at any cost, but instead from
the words of the weak, the voiceless. The newspaper was able to win a
battle against the formidable ‘second power’ , the Catholic Church in
Boston, where Catholics constitute nearly half the population. But this
battle is not just about Catholics.
Wherever the poor survive in ignorance, their children are choice
prey for predators drunk on power who abuse them and reduce them to
silence in the name of a higher entity, usually a God. Hence the
universality of this lesson from Boston.