While waiting for the great Catalan film that will probably never come, what is better than enjoying an American movie about impunity, social and judicial complicity and, of course, the silence of the press before a much larger scandal occurred, as was the case with the systematic cover-up of pedophile priests by a good part of the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church.
There are huge differences, of course. The differences have nothing to do with the case of political corruption in the party that has ruled Catalonia for 28 of the 36 years of its independence and is still ruling. Nor do the differences have to do with the tolerance and concealment by the church of the time immemorial perverse and hypocritical habits of a very large number of its clergy: subject to celibacy on one hand, but on the other, [responsible for] the abuse of spiritual authority through subjecting young men and women to their erotic caprices.
Nor is there any comparison in the size of the scandal or its resolution. The practice of charging illegal fees, the famous 3 percent in favor of the Democratic Converge is of Catalonia organized by the political network of the extended clan of the president of the government, Jordi Pujol, takes place in a different place and different time. But the fee issue is still pending before the courts, even though there is very abundant and solid evidence — and even Pujol’s own admission — about the existence of offshore accounts hidden from the treasury.
Church pedophilia is a universal phenomenon, which was first denounced in the United States, and more specifically, in the diocese of Boston, where a prestigious local newspaper published evidence of the extent of such practices in its area, including the cover-up by local religious authorities and the systematic nature of such cover-ups in the whole universal church structure. Unlike the Pujol case, the Boston case has been settled. There, two successive popes, first Benedict XVI and now Francis, have been decisive in recognizing and condemning such a disgusting phenomenon and did what the church had avoided until now, which is send the criminals away.
Returning to the cinematic question, I am not aware that there is a dramatic project on the Pujol case, although Jordi Casanovas, a playwright who is very interested in documentaries and the political theater (e.g., “Ruz-Barcenas,” 2013), has expressed interest in the theme for stage and screen. If we look at the trends in the book market, we can deduce that we won’t see a production in the coming years. As I wrote in these pages on the first anniversary of the confession (“The Silences of the Pujolismo,” July 27, 2015), there is an unexplained disparity between the number of books that have been published month after month on the church proceedings (several hundred in five years, and, therefore, at least one a week) and those that are about the Pujol case. There were four in July 2014 and there remain four now.
After seeing the abundant differences in the two cases, we finally arrive at one similarity: a terrible and accurate similarity of silence. The silence involved with covering up pedophilia is exposed in the movie “Spotlight,” which opened Friday in Spain. But silence remains inexplicably unexplained in the Pujol case.
The film, directed by Tom McCarthy, rigorously and soberly documents the work done by the investigative team, the complicity of Cardinal Bernard Law and the systematic nature of the church’s cover-up of abusive behavior and violations. Just as everyone knows about the issues in the Pujol case, everyone in Boston knew, but nobody paid attention to the few who raised concern. The journalistic lesson that McCarthy teaches the general public allows us to learn how long silences are created: by forgetting alarming news, devoting attention and resources to other things, and especially by weighing the political and social pressure to look the other way.
Back to the differences. The courts still work here, but a powerful silencing machine also continues to work, even more powerfully when it is introduced into the minds of citizens. The Pujol case? It is starting to become boring. Turn the page. No movie.
That’s why I recommend you go see “Spotlight” and judge for yourself.
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