TORONTO, Ont. Dec. 12, 2008 – The movie “Doubt” opens in Canada tonight. It centres around an unproven allegation of sexual misconduct between a priest and a boy in Grade 8, and is set in the Bronx in 1964. League Executive Director Joanne McGarry attended the preview and has these comments:

The sexual abuse scandal is a painful event in the life of the Church. It is understandable that Catholics would regard a movie dealing with it with trepidation, since all too many entertainment vehicles (including satirical cartoons, comedians and talk show hosts) appear to regard it as an occasion to demean and belittle the entire Church, casually opening scars for the victims and tarring all clergy with the sins of a small minority. 

“Doubt” does not belong in this category. The allegation itself is contested, and never proven. Most of the dialogue between the two protagonists (Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Father Flynn) speaks more to the sin of pride than any other failing, and there is no attempt to allude to the wider scandal, either in the U.S. or elsewhere.

This is a very serious topic for a Christmas film. There is little comic relief of any sort, and the theme makes it unsuitable for the young. In terms of the League’s mandate of addressing anti-Catholic defamation in the media, the topic of the sexual abuse scandal has huge potential for problems, but in this case they have not materialized.

(The League does not recommend movies, or comment on their dramatic or technical merit. Most daily newspapers will carry reviews this weekend. The USCCB Film Office has rated it A-III, adults.)

About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244;