While it impressed critics, and the Academy Award members given its Oscar win, one would think that Tom McCarthy's Spotlight wouldn't go down all that well with the Catholic Church - particularly the Vatican due to its subject matter.
With the film being so critical of the church's past behaviours involving cases of sexual abuse by priests, and even the idea the Vatican covered many of the incidents up to save face, you could hardly blame them. Yet that's not the response of the official Vatican newspaper, as they actually hold the film's message in high regard.
Written by Lucetta Scaraffia, the L'Osservatore Romano ran an editorial piece on Tuesday (1 March) praising the drama's bravery in "confronting the discovery of these horrendous realities" and argued that even though its been labelled as "anti-Catholic" by a lot of religion-based media, it in actual fact isn't.
"[Spotlight is] not anti-Catholic, as has been written, because it manages to voice the shock and profound pain of the faithful confronting the discovery of these horrendous realities." Scaraffia writes. "Of course, the narrative does not delve into the long and tenacious battle that Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and as Pope, undertook against paedophilia in the Church. But one film cannot tell all, and the difficulties that Ratzinger met with do not but confirm the film's theme, which is that too often ecclesiastical institutions have not known how to react with the necessary determination in the face of these crimes."
She continued: "Not all monsters wear cassocks. Pedophilia does not necessarily arise from the vow of chastity. However, it has become clear that in the Church some are more preoccupied with the image of the institution than of the seriousness of the act.
"All this cannot justify the extremely grave fault of those who, while seen as God's representatives, use this authority and prestige to exploit the innocent. The film is adept at recounting this detail, giving space to the inner devastation that these acts generate in the victims, who no longer have a God to plead with, to ask for help."
Spotlight may not have walked away with as many awards as action Mad Max: Fury Road at the Oscars, but the film's top prizes of best picture and best original screenplay prove that it will have staying power for years to come. Hopefully, McCarthy's work will inspire others with similarly inspirational stories to make films as powerful and effecting as the polished delivery of both acting and writing talent Spotlight possesses, furthering powerful conversations between cinema-goers, filmmakers and society.
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