Nearly 20 years ago, a study by The Boston Globe on sexual assault by Roman Catholic priests ignited a firestorm of scandals that have traveled the world. For many Americans, these shocking revelations — especially about the associated coverings of the church — came out of nowhere, almost like lightning. But the sober reality is that this lightning had been hitting for at least 15 years.
In May 1985, Jason Berry, a Catholic journalist in Louisiana, wrote his first piece on child sexual abuse in the Church for the National Catholic Reporter and the Times of Acadiana. Sir. Berry called himself a “reluctant muckraker,” but his exhibition on Pastor Gilbert Gauthe would prove to be only the first in a series of exhaustive studies over the years, including his 1992 book, “Lead Us Not Into Temptation.” Sir. Berry appeared on national television programs such as “Donahue” and “Oprah”, arguing that child sexual abuse had become “the watering hole of the Catholic Church”.
So why did it take another decade or more before this scandal really broke? And when is a society willing to face the facts that may already be in the eye? In the short documentary above, Mr. Berry struggles with these questions and with what it means to spend years ringing an alarm bell that no one is willing to hear.
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