David Alexander watched the documentary film “Hand of God” that’s making the rounds of PBS, about the abuse of
his the filmmaker’s brother by Fr. Birmingham at St. James Parish in Salem, Massachusetts, and offers his reflections. He notes that the film is an uneven effort, exposing real evil on the one hand while confusing the sins of men with the beliefs they purport to represent on the other.
Living in Salem, I’ve met a few men who knew those who were abused. At least one has told me that it was common knowledge, at least among his friends, what was going on and that quite a few adults had been told as well, but either they didn’t want to believe or they didn’t want to get involved. While there’s plenty of blame to lay upon the heads of men in holy orders, there are laypeople who will someday have to answer for their actions or inaction, as the case may be.