Spotlight Tells the Story of a Massive Scandal and Cover-up by the Catholic Church
A personal statement from the Reviewer
It is important to us to start this particular review out by making the following statement:
A Statement of Belief
We are not only a practicing Roman Catholic, but a former altar boy. None of the things depicted in this film occurred to us, or — so far as we know — to anyone we personally know, or by any priest we personally know. When we first heard about the scandal, it was our voiced opinion that any clergy who inappropriately touched a child should be defrocked, excommunicated, and turned over to civil authorities for prosecution. Further, any member of the clergy who knew that about a member of the clergy who inappropriately touched a child, and turned a blind eye towards it, should also be defrocked, excommunicated, and turned over to civil authorities for prosecution; and if that meant we wound up with no clergy, that would be Okay, and we would start all over by recruiting new clergy.
On with the Review
That said, we will now begin our review.
The Spotlight Team
From the Beginning
In 2001, The Boston Globe hired a new editor, Marty Baron (Schreiber) who went on to encourage the Globe’s small investigative journalism team — that published a sporadically published edition called Spotlight — to look into a story about a priest who was accused of molested children. This set off a series of cascading events that shook the Roman Catholic Church to its very center. The film Spotlight, chronicles the events leading up to that stunning revelation. It starts out with Baron meeting Walter “Robby” Robinson (Keaton), the editor of the Spotlight team. Robinson explains to Baron that the team takes months to research and publish stories because they want to get them right, and they aim to be thorough.
Track down the Leads
A Tale of Abuse
Baron encourages the team to check up on lawyer named Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), who claims that Cardinal Bernard Law (Len Cariou), the Archbishop of Boston, knew that the priest John Geoghan had been sexually abusing children and yet did nothing to stop him. Baron urges the Spotlight team to investigate the accusations. This set the team in motion on its year-long investigation into the matter. What they uncovered was a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, involving not just Geoghan but a touching off a wave of revelations around the world.
Portrat of a Victim
A Betrayal of Trust
What the team discovered was that a former priest who has also looked into the phenomena, estimates that 6% of all Catholic priests molest minors out of sexual frustration because of either their enforced celibacy their secret shame of being homosexual or a pedophile. This jives with the team uncovering that there are some 87 priests in the Boston area who seemed to have also been molesting children. As can be expected, this revelation proves to be a truly frightening bit of information for the team, which (as we know) eventually published its report and shocked the nation. Eventually, it was the investigative journalism of how The Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Boston Catholic Archdiocese, that rocked the entire Catholic Church to its very core. It was only through the Globe’s tenacious Spotlight team of reporters that these horrific abuses in the Catholic Church ultimately came to light.
Perpetuating the Big Lie
Uncovering the Abuse
The film ends with titles indicating that the cover-ups weren’t just local to Boston, but went on to revealed that they extended far beyond Massachusetts. The abuses and cover-ups lead all the way to the Vatican itself. End titles go on to list hundreds of U.S. cities as having similar scandals. These are followed by more end titles listing dozens of other countries (including Ireland, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and others), where the abuse also extended.
The Boston Globe
A Ray of Hope
The film — like the story itself — is not only compelling, frightening and horrifying, but necessary to see (especially if you — like this reviewer — is a Roman Catholic) if only to learn what actually happened, and what pain and anguish silence and catering to power and influence brings. That such wide-spread abuse could occur, be known and covered up is a travesty of monumental proportions. Hopefully because of this and other atrocities which have occurred under the mantle of the church protection, and with the presence of the current Pope, these things will not only continue to be uncovered, but will never occur again.
© 2016 Robert J Sodaro