My Sisters and Brothers in Christ
The film, Spotlight, which is the story of child sexual abuse by clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston, USA, has been released this week in cinemas across Australia. The film sheds light on the extraordinary lengths to which the Archdiocese of Boston went to cover up the activities of paedophile priests and silence victims.
In the opening and closing paragraphs of his review of the film, Fr Richard Leonard SJ from the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting summarises well the importance of Spotlight which has been nominated for six Academy Awards:
“This is one of the angriest films you will ever see. Spotlight is an occasion for holy, righteous anger and every adult Catholic should see it. Not because it is easy watching, but because it is necessary watching. The time to look away has gone …
“Why go and see this very tough and demanding film? Because victims and their families deserve it. Whether we like it or not, now we are all in the spotlight – and there is nowhere to hide.”
Vatican Radio commentator, Luca Pellegrini, noted that the Catholic Church should not be wary of a film about its past failures.
I concur with Fr Leonard and Mr Pellegrini’s sentiments. I renew my heartfelt apology to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic Church personnel. I also apologise to their families and all who have shared their suffering. Victims and their families must receive respect, justice and compassion.
I am mindful that this film will be a source of considerable distress to people and will be particularly painful for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. It is my hope that it will promote dialogue in the Church, families and the wider society regarding the protection of children and vulnerable people in all situations.
The Diocese of Wollongong remains totally committed to the protection of children and vulnerable people and is proactive in implementing safeguarding practices that will ensure their protection.
Any person with a complaint of mistreatment or abuse is strongly urged to come forward to the appropriate authority. If the complaint is of a criminal nature, please notify the police through the Police Assistance Line on 131 444. You are also encouraged to contact the Royal Commission Support Line on 1800 099 340. If you need assistance with this, or if the matter is not of a criminal nature, you are asked to contact the Diocese on 1800 225 922.
I am mindful that parishioners, families and individuals, including diocesan staff and volunteers, clergy, seminarians and religious, may be disturbed by the film. Should you feel that pastoral support or counselling would be of assistance to you, please contact the Diocese on 1800 225 922 and the appropriate support can be arranged.
I affirm again the importance of the film, Spotlight, and I encourage people to see it. I invite all people of the Diocese to join me in prayer that our combined efforts may lead to the greater protection of children and vulnerable people, and to justice and healing for victims of sexual abuse.
Bishop Peter W Ingham DD
Bishop of Wollongong
28 January 2016