Sunday, March 06, 2016

The movie Spotlight on Roman Catholic Church's systemic evil

The film 'Spotlight' which won this year's Oscar for Best Picture is based on the true story of how a team of journalists exposed the Roman Catholic Church's systemic cover-up of their priests' sexual abuse of children.  

It shows how clergy and devout laity can blindly conspired to conceal evil out of their misplaced sacred sense of allegiance or religious obedience (and also perhaps wrong theology). 

I am particular affected by the depiction of the regular church-goers, of which some were the rich and power people in Boston, whose loyalty to their church has pulled them so far away from the hurt and injustice suffered by the abused victims. When confronted by the journalists, they simply dismissed or remained silent about the issue.

To them, what really matters was the fact that the church had been doing so much for the community, thus nothing should tarnish the reputation of the religious institution even though the lives of hundreds of children are destroyed and its truth is swept under the carpet.

'Spotlight' shows us that (metaphorically) demons do come in the form of middle-age people with loving family who serve as active cell-group leaders in a local church.

The film ends with the statement that says, "249 priests and brothers were publicly accused of sexual abuse within the Boston Archdiosese and the number of survivors in Boston is estimated to be well over 1,000," and a list of over 200 other cities around the world where "major abuse scandals have been uncovered."  

As one character in the movie said, "If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them."  

After the exposure, Cardinal Bernard F. Law who was responsible for the cover-up resigned from his Archbishop position in Boston. Then Pope John Paul II appointed him as Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (one of the four Papal Major Basilicas in Rome). 

This film brings out the reality of how individual and structural evil takes their form in a contemporary religious institution.

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