Yes, she’s right. Churches and denominations are busy at work on developing policies to prevent abuse, and that’s all to the good. They also need to develop transparent policies on how to respond to journalists, information gatherers, bloggers and social media.
Without these folks, led by circumspect journalists, many of these abuses would still be hidden and others would be abused.
VATICAN CITY—Church officials reacted badly when investigative journalists at The Boston Globe in 2002 uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse of minors by clerics and a widespread culture of cover-up. One cardinal blamed the crisis on the “Jewish media” and decried a smear campaign against Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law who, after leaving Boston in disgrace for his role protecting predator priests, was appointed by Pope John Paul II to a powerful position at the Vatican selecting bishops.
This week at a conference here called by Pope Francis about the protection of minors in the Catholic Church, not one but two speakers—including a Nigerian nun speaking before Francis—cited the 2015 film Spotlight, about the Globejournalists who broke the story. It’s a sign of how times have changed and how popular culture has helped embolden victims to come forward, especially in the United States, where victims and lawsuits have put the Church under extreme pressure.
But it’s also an acknowledgment of how this conference would never be happening, and the dark secret of clerical sexual abuse and cover-up might never have come to light, if not for outsiders to the hierarchy: journalists, civil authorities, films, women who listened to the victims (or who were victims themselves). They helped reveal a pattern of concealment within the Church and drove a shift in the culture.