Hollywood to produce film on Catholic sex scandal cover up

(Photo: Reuters / Brian Snyder)Arthur Austin (L) and Kathy Dwyer (R), who say they were sexually abused as children by different priests at St. Francis Church in Braintree, Massachusetts, hug outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Dec. 8, 2002, where hundreds of protesters gathered to call for the resignation of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law. Attorneys for victims of abuse say recently released church documents reveal that Boston's Cardinal Law knew priests were sexually abusing parishioners and simply reassigned them to other posts.

U.S. film companies DreamWorks Studios and Participant Media have acquired the film rights to the Boston Globe's investigation into a decades-long cover up of pedophile priests in the Massachusetts area.

The press statement for the movie announces that filmmakers have gained the "life rights" to the Spotlight Team of reporters and editors at the Boston Globe during these events.

These include Globe Editor Marty Baron, Special Projects Editor Ben Bradlee Jr., Spotlight Team Editor Walter Robinson, and reporters Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Matt Caroll.

For more than a year, the team interviewed victims of the hushed-over sexual abuse crimes and uncovered extensive documentation from within the highest ranks of the state's Roman Catholic Church leadership.

"The Boston Globe's coverage of the Catholic priest scandal opened the door to a bigger story that had worldwide ramifications," said Holly Bario, the president of production at DreamWorks in a 2 April statement.

"The story of how this team of editors and reporters came to uncover the truth will make a dramatic and compelling film, especially with the talent of our director Tom McCarthy and his co-screenwriter Josh Singer on board."

The stories, published as a series by the Boston Globe during Jan. 6-7, 2002, rocked the Catholic community in Massachusetts, as well as the wider world.

In the fallout from the reports and increasing spotlight coverage over the following months, Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, the Archbishop of Boston, who was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1984, resigned on Dec. 13, 2002.

Cardinal Law publicly apologized with his resignation to the victims and their families for his shortcomings.

Pope John Paul II later appointed him as Archpriest of the basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in 2004.

The initial series of reports focused on how the Archdiocese of Boston swept priest John Geoghan from parish to parish over several decades, in spite of an extraordinary amount of condemning evidence that he sexually abused children.

The scandal shook the Church beyond Massachusetts in the following years as more and more American Catholics and international worshippers found similar scandals in other dioceses.

The incident is still felt by the Church to this day.

Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano and British mass circulation paper the Daily Mail reported in March that newly appointed Pope Francis confronted Cardinal Law at the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. The newspapers reported that the Pope ordered Law "to not come to this church anymore."

Il Fatto Quotidiano also reported that Pope Francis is planning to send the disgraced cardinal to a cloistered monastery as "his first act of purification."

The Vatican has countered that these stories are false.

The original Boston Globe news series won the Spotlight Team the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003.

The film is slated to be directed by Tom McCarthy from a script co-written by McCarthy and Josh Singer.

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