ROME — Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano on Monday praised “Spotlight,” calling it “convincing” and “not anti-Catholic as such,” in the Vatican’s first official comment since the film’s Oscar win for best picture on Sunday night.
In a front page editorial published Monday afternoon, the newspaper owned by the Holy See said the drama reconstructing the Boston Globe’s investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and efforts to cover it up, faithfully portrays how the Church tried to defend itself despite a “horrible reality.”
“Predators do not necessarily wear ecclesiastical vestments, and paedophilia does not necessarily stem from the vow of chastity” cautioned the editorial’s author, Lucetta Scaraffia. “But it is now clear that, in the Church, too many people concerned themselves more with the image of the institution than the gravity of the act.”
The editorial also addressed the call on Pope Francis made by “Spotlight” co-producer Michael Sugar during the ceremony at the Dolby Theatre. It “must be seen as a positive signal: There is still trust in the institution and in a pope who is pressing ahead with the cleaning up begun by his predecessor,” it opined.
When “Spotlight” world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, director Tom McCarthy told Variety that he was pessimistic about how much impact it could have on the Catholic Church. “They are slow to change, they are slow to do anything,” he said. “Someone said: ‘What do you think the response will be?’ I guarantee you, there will be no response from the Catholic Church.”
Well there has been some response, though it remains to be seen how effective. Earlier this month a new commission set up by Pope Francis to fight sex abuse within the Catholic Church kicked off with a private screening of “Spotlight.”
And shortly before the Oscars started on Sunday, Cardinal George Pell, a top financial adviser to Pope Francis, agreed to testify from Rome via video link in a case in Australia where a court is probing how the Catholic Church and other institutions dealt with decades of child abuse. Pell, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, will be called to answer questions about allegations that he mishandled cases of child abuse by the clergy when he was archbishop of Melbourne and later of Sydney.