Vatican City, Aug 10, 2016 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Bonifacio Buzzi, a Brazilian priest convicted of child abuse and who was mentioned in the Oscar-winning film ‘Spotlight,’ committed suicide in his prison cell over the weekend. According to Reuters, Fr. Buzzi, 57, hung himself with a sheet inside his jail cell in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais Aug. 7 after having been arrested Friday.
In 1995 the priest was found guilty of abusing several youths in a mental hospital, and sentenced to four years of house arrest. In 2004, he was convicted of molesting a 10-year-old boy in Mariana, Minas Gerais and was jailed from 2007-2015 for the crime. He was arrested Aug. 5 in the southern state of Santa Catarina following criminal complaints that he had molested two more boys, aged 9 and 13, and taken back to Minas Gerais. The Vatican was in the process of taking action against the priest, but the process had not yet concluded at the time of his death.
Fr. Buzzi was among the cases of pedophilia listed at the end of the 2015 Oscar-winning film “Spotlight.” The movie covers the Boston Globe’s investigation into sex abuse of minors by Catholic figures in the archdiocese, as well as cover-up by some members of the hierarchy. The film won an Oscar for Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Feb. 28.
“Spotlight” ends with the Boston Globe printing an explosive exposé, before listing all the other cities where sex abuse was later found to be a problem in the Catholic Church, including the parish in Mariana where Fr. Buzzi had served. In the years following the exposé, the Catholic Church has since established several safety measures in order to prevent abuse, including a “zero tolerance” policy for abusers, safe environment training and oversight, and mandatory background checks for any individual who has contact with minors.
The Vatican has also restructured its proceedings regarding abuse charges. From 2004-2011, there were 3,400 U.S. cases of alleged clergy abuse reported to Rome for review. Of the accused priests, 848 were laicized and 2,572 were permanently removed from ministry.