Despite its widespread exposure in recent years, the scourge of pedophilia in the church continues. The hierarchy in the Catholic Church is expert in disguising cases of abuse and protecting the perpetrators through relocation. The Church: Code of Silence explores these systemic cover-ups.
The investigation leads the filmmakers through Cameroon, Argentina, Italy and the United States. They uncover a conspiracy of silence and injustice that is fully sanctioned by those who are looked upon as protectors. Members of the clergy who have been accused of sexual abuses to minors are far too often relocated to other churches across the globe, and their access to children remains unabated.
The scope of the epidemic is made clear in the early moments of the film. The filmmakers attend an annual consortium of abuse victims called SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). There, they meet many hundreds of adults who converge in activism against the structures that permitted their abuses as youngsters. Attendees travel from places like Chile, the Philippines and Berlin.
In France, the documentary crew tracks down an accused priest who has been wanted by Canadian law enforcement for nearly two decades. He's one of countless priests who have been protected by the church and hidden from the purview of persecution for their crimes.
The conspiracy leads to the very top of the power structure within the church. The investigation implicates Pope Francis by exposing the crucial role he played in protecting a sexual abuser while he was serving as a bishop in Buenos Aires.
The film also presents interviews with whistleblowers whose loyalties to the church have corroded since the eruption of these sexual abuse scandals, and officials who have been assigned to commissions designed to curb incidents of abuse in the church.
Generations of victims have come forward to detail their years of abuse and lingering trauma at the hands of priests they knew and trusted. The hope has been that the Catholic Church would impose a series of regulations that would effectively put an end to these horrors. The Church: Code of Silence shows that they still have a long way to go.
Directed by: Martin Boudot