Author: The Investigative Staff at The Boston Globe
First Published: 2015
Page Count: 220
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 4/5 Stars
A difficult subject to read, but an even harder book to put down.
*Thorough Investigation *Never Repetitive
“That betrayal may not be a chargeable offense in a court of law. But there is no statute of limitations on its impact. And there should be no forgetting.” Before 2001 the Catholic Church was a highly revered religious organization that was a pillar for many in society. That is, until a team of investigative journalists at The Boston Globe begin looking into allegations of sexual abuse within the church. What they would unearth was not only an unprecedented amount of sexual abuse cases against minors but one of the biggest cover up attempts that extended up the hierarchy of the church. This discovery, their reports on the subject, and the fallout changed the church and its members and is explored in this book.
The movie Spotlight was fantastic, but after reading the book that it is based on, you realize the film just scratches the surface of the topic. I feel that I got a very well-rounded look at the issues raised by The Boston Globe and the immediate impact that their reports had on the church and its communities. The reader sees into the minds of the accused priests, the point of view of the victims, and how the institution itself handled the charges made against it. The data never felt repetitive; on the contrary, I constantly felt floored as claim after claim are revealed by The Boston Globe. As a Catholic who had a vague awareness about these accusations (I was only eleven at the time), reading this book really put into perspective why it was such a big deal. I knew there were accusations that priests were abusing children, but I had no idea just how many cases actually existed, for how long this had gone on, and how blatantly it was ignored and covered up by the church.
Readers going into this book know the subject matter is going to be difficult to read. However, the book does not hold back in its coverage of the topic. I had anticipated vague references to what had occurred to the children, but, in reality, the readers are exposed to extremely graphic descriptions of nearly exactly what happened. Not only that, but we are given a lot more than a handful of these case descriptions to endure. It is not for the faint of heart, and makes for an incredibly dark reading experience. Even though it is hard to read, the shock value that results from these descriptions effectively hammers home the importance of the topic.
This is such an important book, such an important topic, and such a tragic series of events that will continue to shape the Catholic Church for years to come. If you can handle how personal the stories get I would suggest everyone read this book. Like the Holocaust, this is a horrific event that human beings allowed to happen until someone stood up and said enough. History will repeat itself unless we all have an understanding of the past and how to avoid past mistakes. It is of even greater importance if you consider yourself Catholic, like myself. In order to be more vigilant in the future and have a clear understanding about the history of our church, we cannot blind ourselves from the atrocity that The Boston Globe heroically brought to light.
* Film Adaptation: (Starring Michael Keaton 2015)