Spotlight: Surprise and Shock

The Oscars, “the annual American awards ceremony hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” are not normally a subject for an atheist website; however, this year, Spotlight,

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

won two awards: best original screenplay and best picture. The Guardian headline claims the Spotlight win “shocks,” and the article claims Spotlight‘s Oscar for best picture was a “surprise.”

Spotlight‘s Oscar wins were no surprise to anyone who saw the film. The shock is producer Michael Sugar’s acceptance speech. Sugar

said he hoped the film’s message – that institutional silence over child abuse was not to be tolerated – would “resonate all the way to the Vatican”.

He continued with a direct call to the pontiff. “Pope Francis: it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith.”

Spotlight‘s message has “resonate[d] all the way to the Vatican” but not in the way Sugar hopes. The Vatican continues to protect cardinals, bishops and priests who protected the clergy who abused minors. Australia’s George Cardinal Pell, who is now Vatican treasurer, is a notable example. Expecting Francis “to protect the children” is a fantasy not even Hollywood could film convincingly.

The biggest question is why Sugar wants “the faith” restored. What good can come from restoring faith in the Roman Catholic Church?

Spotlight is an excellent movie about a group of investigators with “a lapsed-Catholic sensibility that is rightly angry, but also laced with sadness and loss,”  but in reality the investigators have lost nothing but their damaging illusions about a corrupt organization. As we all know the scandal of child molestation by clergy and the cover-up by the Catholic Church didn’t start and end in Boston.

A National Catholic Register review of Spotlight complains that

Spotlight never mentions that rates of abuse among Catholic priests have not been found to be higher than among other clergy, in other fields such as public education, or among the general population — or that rates of clerical abuse peaked in the 1970s, with sharp declines since then.

The reviewer, Steven D. Greydanus, seems to think a sharp decline in the rate of clerical abuse is positive. Greydanus also claims that the actor who plays Mitchell Garabedian in the movie is wrong when he says “If it takes a village to raise a child,it takes a village to abuse one.”

Mitchell Garabedian, played by Stanley Tucci, is not wrong. The Vatican is that village, and the head of that village is a man whose authority comes from a Bible passage:

Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.

and whose influence is spread all over the world.

Faith in the Catholic Church is a mirage and a hoax played on the world for thousands of years.

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