For believers, it’s almost as if God resides in
liturgical vestments. And so, pointing a finger at the clergy is most times
equated with blasphemy.
For decades, that well-entrenched fervour and the
combined might of the Roman Catholic church accounted for an alarming number of
paedophiles in the clergy to go unreported. With the church simply recycling
these deviant priests from parish to parish, child abusers in religious garb
turned recidivists with impunity, repeated offenders who went unpunished.
When Marty Baron takes over as the new editor of The
Boston Globe, that’s the story he wants Spotlight, a team of investigative
reporters, to research. But going after what has been swept under the pews for
years, hits the expected roadblocks. The Globe’s own subscriber base is
substantially Catholic. High-profile lawyers have turned child abuse into a
lucrative cottage industry by settling between the church and the victims’
families. The courts have either no record of such settlements or they’re
deemed sensitive and classified, there is no paper trail. Families are too
caught in a religious bind to let their children go on record. A homosexual
admits that as a child, the priest was the first person to tell him it wasn’t a
crime, so that made him a terrified but willing victim.
The magnitude of the crime and cover-up by the church
and its allies who are men of authority, startles the Spotlight team as a
pattern emerges. And the scribes go after the system, uncovering a crime that
goes back to the 70s and incriminates over 200 priests with more than 1000
It’s an important piece of journalism for The Globe,
an important story for society to respond to, and an important cinematic work
that deserves applause.
which exposed intolerance of a different political ideology, Spotlight is also an Oscar nomination
that indicts America’s religious hypocrisy. As the editorial team discovers, it
was a story that one of their own had also buried and left unexposed years
Liev Schreiber who recently played chess champ Boris
Kasparov in Pawn Sacrifice adds
screen presence to the role of editor Marty Baron. But it is the Spotlight team
that stirs the plot and keeps it bubbling, with Mark Ruffalo as doggedly
determined journo Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer as his colleague Rachel and
Michael Keaton as his senior.
Importantly, director Tom McCarthy’s film is not anti-church, it is anti-crime.
For a vital story that impacts society and its
children, Spotlight gets a 3.5*
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author