The film Spotlight, which won the Oscar for best picture on Sunday, is a courageous movie that is not anti-Catholic, the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano said in two articles dedicated to comment on the Oscars.
Historian and journalist Lucetta Scaraffia, in an op-ed titled “It is not an anti-Catholic film,” writes that 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.”
The movie “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 pedophilia in the Church,” says Scaraffia, 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.”
“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,” the op-ed says.
According to Scaraffia, “the fact that a call arose from the Oscar ceremony — that Pope Francis fight this scourge — should be seen as a positive sign: there is still trust in the institution, there is trust in a Pope who is continuing the cleaning begun by his predecessor, then still a cardinal. There is still trust in a faith that has at its heart the defense of victims, the protection of the innocent.”
In another article published in the same edition, L'Osservatore Romano's movie reviewer Emilio Ranzato writes that Spotlight “is not an anti-Catholic film because Catholicism in itself is not even mentioned.”
“It runs the risk of being against the Church because it tends to generalize; but generalizations are inevitable when stories have to be told in just two hours,” he adds.
Spotlight, Ranzato writes, “is without doubt a film with the courage of denouncing cases that need to be condemned without hesitation. And it does it in a detailed manner, grounded in an investigation that is both serious and credible.”
“A film like ‘All the President's men’ remains distant, but McCarthy's instead is a good work, done in a very non Hollywood-style,” he concludes.
Several leading U.S. bishops have also commented on the movie Spotlight. Last November, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops discussed the role of the media in promoting accountability.
“The media was one of the major forces pushing the Church to respond in a way that it had failed to do up to that point, and we are better for it,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said in a blog post at the time.
He noted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that was adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002. The charter directs efforts to create a safe environment, report suspected abuse and cooperate with civil authorities, discipline offenders and work toward healing and reconciliation for victims.
Stressing the need for continued transparency and vigilance, Archbishop Kurtz reiterated his sorrow for all those who have been victims of abuse.
“We can only be healthy as a Church and as a society if we honestly confront the sexual abuse of children and rebuild relationships one at a time,” he said. “I have been inspired by those victims I have met, and I encourage all victims of sexual abuse and all those who know of any abuse to seek help and to contact law enforcement. I know our pastors, counselors, and all in pastoral ministry stand ready to reach out and support you.”
“Please join me in seeking forgiveness for the sins of members who have hurt children and work with me in efforts to protect our children and youth. May God’s grace guide us.”