Religion

The real drama behind Oscar winner 'Spotlight' is still playing out around the world

Peter Blenkiron, a child sex abuse victim, speaks to journalists in front of the Quirinale hotel in Rome, Italy, Feb. 28, 2016. 
Credit: Alessandro Bianchi

By now you know that the film "Spotlight" won an Oscar Sunday night for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.

It's a Hollywood movie about when news of the Catholic Church abuse scandal broke in 2002. The Boston Globe newspaper ran a story about bishops in the Boston area who moved abusers from parish to parish instead of defrocking them.

Similar scandals have since been discovered around the world — GlobalPost has covered many of them — and the very real-world drama continues to play out.

More from GlobalPost: South America has become a safe haven for the Catholic Church’s alleged child molesters

On Sunday, just a short walk from the Vatican, Australian Cardinal George Pell became the highest ranking Vatican official to testify on church abuse.

From a hotel in Rome, Pell testified via video link before Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse.

He said that the church made "enormous mistakes," "mucked things up," and "let people down" by looking the other way while thousands of children were abused by clergy members.

"I'm not here to defend the indefensible," Pell said. 

Pell took responsibility for some of his own actions, saying he was not as responsive to victims as he should have been. "I must say in those days, if a priest denied such activity, I was very strongly inclined to accept the denial," he said.

Be he stopped short of condemning the church as a whole. "I think the faults overwhelmingly have been more personal faults, personal failures rather than structures."

More from GlobalPost: A 30-year timeline of Catholic Church sex abuse scandals

Pell has shared such testimony before, but never so physically close to the Vatican. He reportedly was unable to travel home to Australia to appear before the commission due to a heart condition. The commission made an exception and let him testify via video link.

Abuse survivors remained largely unimpressed by Pell's testimony. "Words are one thing. Actions are another," said David Ridsdale, who was abused for four years by his uncle within the church.

Ridsdale called for abuse survivors to be compensated for the fact that many are so traumatized, they are unable to support themselves financially. 

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