Cinema

A worthy film that just doesn't fly: Spotlight reviewed

Deborah Ross wanted the film to give it to the church with both barrels but instead director Tom McCarthy chooses to keep a respectful distance

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

Spotlight

15, Nationwide

Like The Revenant and The Big Short, Spotlight is yet another Oscar contender ‘based on true events’ — although it has now been suggested that The Revenant was 99.7 per cent made up. (Does this matter? Only, I suppose, in the sense that you should know what you’re watching.) But we’re on firm ground with Spotlight, where the events — the Boston Globe’s uncovering of systemic child abuse by Catholic priests in Massachusetts — are a matter of record, although how you make a film about something so awful, I don’t know.

Personally, I wanted the film to give it to the Church with both barrels, and let rip with fury, but it’s too restrained for that. Instead, what we have is conscientiously dogged, as well as somewhat repetitive, driving the same points home over and over. Indeed, if I’d had £1 for every time the script employed the phrase ‘But this is the Church we’re talking about!’, it would have been an odd way to make money, but I’d have come away quite well off all the same.

Directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor), who also co-wrote the script with Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate), the film is set in 2002, in Boston, a city which, you quickly gather, is so Catholic — ‘But this is the Church we’re talking about! — that no one wants to acknowledge what is happening right under their noses, and this includes the Globe. (Think BBC at the time of Savile, and that’s where it was at, more or less.) The Globe had evidence of abuse going back many years, but either buried stories or failed to act on leads, and that was its modus operandi until the arrival of a new editor, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). Baron is not a Bostonian. He’s Jewish. He’s an outsider, unclubbable, immune to winks on the golf course and to certain looks over drinks and such like. He insists the Globe does some digging, and puts the paper’s ‘Spotlight’ investigative team on it. The team are disbelieving at first. ‘But this is the Church we’re talking about!’ And so on, until my pockets all but jangled.

[Alt-Text]


The team, as led by Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton), has three reporters at its disposal: Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James). Here the film is, I think, caught between a rock and a hard place. Give the reporters too much personality or back story and it becomes self-aggrandising — about them, not the victims — but award them too little, and they are phenomenally dull and bland, as is the case here. Rachel McAdams, who, as a rule, is mesmerisingly ace, could have been played by a lamppost, for all she brings to the party, or is asked to bring to the party.

Still, the team start digging, interviewing victims, knocking on doors, poring over parish directories and old newspaper cuttings. (This was a time when the internet was in its infancy, and journalists had to do real work; makes me tired just thinking about it.) Slowly, it dawns on them. This isn’t about ‘a few bad apples’. This isn’t about one priest, moved around several times. This is about many paedophile priests, and a cover-up that extends to the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law (Len Cariou), who was aware of the problem, and ignored it. Spotlight’s richest source of information, I should add, is a lawyer (as played by a worryingly gaunt Stanley Tucci), who is bringing multiple actions on behalf of individual victims, and who leads Rezendes to crucial ‘sealed documents’. This bit was complicated, involved much exposition, and I’m hoping you have to be somewhat au fait with the American legal system to understand it as, frustratingly, I did not.

There is the occasional good scene, as when a particular priest is doorstepped, and uses the most astonishing reasoning to get himself off the hook, but mostly it plods along without any sense of suspense or pace or excitement — it’s not All the President’s Men, just in case you were wondering — while failing to capture the newsroom, as so often happens in films about journalism. Why for example, is the Globe deserted on a Sunday, when it’s a daily newspaper? Who’s working on the Monday edition? And if you’re not going to let your reporters swear (for certification reasons, presumably), do you really need to keep having them say ‘jeez’ and ‘freaking’ instead — as in: ‘Jeez, this is the freaking Church we’re talking about’?

It may be that the film’s desire to do the subject justice leads to its shortcomings. Its respectful distance makes it all feel rather impersonal. We don’t properly meet a single priest, or victim. We don’t ever properly understand the human cost as we did with, say, Philomena. Plus, its determination not to sensationalise means it doesn’t, for example, indulge our longing to see the smile wiped off the Cardinal’s face at the end, even though that was my greatest wish. This is a worthy film on an important subject, but it just does not fly.

More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.


Show comments
  • davidshort10

    Hollywood almost never gets journalism right. It doesn’t even know how to get proper headlines written by real subs when they feature a newspaper front page.

    • David Prentice

      I thought it did quite well in The Paper.

    • mikewaller

      It does in the case of Kirk Douglas’s wonderful “Ace in the Hole”. Some details might be wrong, but the sheer venality of a widespread journalistic type is spot on.

  • Minstrel Boy

    It is now a matter of Hollywood fact that no religious institutions have ever experienced sexual abuse, other than the Catholic Church. When some intrepid investigator discovers something similar in multiple Muslim madrassas, Jewish shuls, and Anglican academies, I do hope a suitably earnest and eager cast can be rustled up to expose it. Somehow, I doubt it. Won’t be holding my breath for the multi-faith sequels.

    • ardenjm

      Of course the Catholic Church is the worst institution EVUH.
      The fact that around 90% of these cases were of frustrated homosexual men (who should never have been in the clergy at all on that grounds alone) going after adolescents – which is a whole Twink-Daddy subculture on the gay scene – is one of the three REAL STORIES HERE.
      Will it be told?
      Will it heck.

      The second story that does get told in this film is that too many Bishops have been complicit in protecting the institution not the children.
      So we await Deborah Ross and Isabel Sinton giving both barrels to the BBC and Rotherham City Council – amongst many, many others.

      The third story which will never even be acknowledged – of course – because the Catholic Church is the worst institution EVUH is that as terrible as the wickedness of these prelates and the abusive priests are, others have been wrongly destroyed by false accusations: http://www.themediareport.com

      • Minstrel Boy

        Within the UK, Anglicans amount to 17% of the population. Catholics amount to 8% of the population and Muslims amount to 5%.
        Statistically, it is therefore most unlikely that Catholics would account for MORE cases of sexual abuse than Anglicans, although their figures should be higher than the Muslim community.
        On a world wide basis, Anglicans account for 1.25% of the population. Other non-Catholic Christian sects account for 31.75% of the population. Catholics account for 17% of the population. Muslims account for 23% of the population. So statistically, non-Catholic Christian sects, approximately 30,000 of them, should account for the majority of sexual abuse cases.
        The reportage rates and the conflation of Church and State, as in the UK, may well lead to differential abuse figures presented in the media, but the figures reveal the facts. Anglicans in the UK are more than twice as likely to be victims of sexual abuse than their Roman Catholic fellow citizens.
        Of course, saying that in the press in an Anglican country will make you as popular as a pork chop at a Jewish wedding! It just isn’t on platform with the neo-liberal, self referential, dogmatic, intolerant agenda. Never let facts intrude upon story line!

        • mikewaller

          Don’t talk crap. Outing Anglican vicars, lay-preachers scout masters etc. etc for having done this kind of thing has been a favourite blood sport of our national press for decades. The only reason for the Catholic church getting both barrels now is that they were much better a hushing things up in the past. As a result, there is a lot of catching up to be done.

          • JabbaPapa

            How do you spell “total hypocrisy” ?

          • Sanctimony

            The same way as you !!!

          • JabbaPapa

            Comment by Sanctimony blocked

            So much nicer like this …

          • ardenjm

            That’s not true at all. We’ve not even started scrutinising systematically what went on in state Childrens’ homes nor have we seen as effective an institutional response to these scandals as we’ve seen in the Catholic Church.
            The Catholic Church is getting both barrels because the Catholic Church gives people a bad conscience for their own moral failings.

            This in no way exculpates those who did these wicked things – including the hushing up – but it explains why the Church has had a ‘spotlight’ on it in a way that NO OTHER institution has.

          • mikewaller

            To me the answer is clear. The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy has for centuries so dominated its lay-members that cover-ups were always the easier option. Then, when the damn broke, there was a catastrophic flood which is where we are now. No doubt other denominations and other institutions have similar appalling skeletons in their cupboards and when the tentacles of evil penetrate into other power centres, doing something about it becomes very, very difficult. However, for a Catholic to seek to defend his or her Church on the grounds that there may well be even worse things going on elsewhere seems to me little short of pathetic.

          • ardenjm

            Ah, okay. Thanks for clarifying.
            I had intended to ask you the following question because I thought that was almost certainly where you were coming from – but I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt.
            Now I see that I was wrong to do so.
            Here’s the question, anyway. We can all see that we know your answer already:

            “So, the Catholic Church is the worst institution EVUH, right?”
            Your answer above: ‘Yes.’

      • JabbaPapa

        around 90% of these cases were of frustrated homosexual men … going after adolescents

        Unfortunately, Spotlight fails to focus on this reality …

        The second story that does get told in this film is that too many Bishops have been complicit in protecting the institution not the children

        Just one is too many — it’s still a very small number.

        • JohnMcCormack

          What a liar you are. In Boston alone, the Catholic Church hid and protected 271 known pedophile priests out of 1500 and those priests raped well over 1000 children.

          Catholics call this “a very small number”. Despicable.

          • JabbaPapa

            Which part of the fact that it was **bishops** under discussion did you fail to comprehend ?

            Most Bishops felt powerless to act after they realised the true extent of Police inaction in the face of these crimes ; because no criminal conviction meant no possibility to defrock. A small number of them, however, actively hid and protected the child molesters, for a variety of extremely bad “reasons”.

          • Sanctimony

            Your doggy paddle will soon run out of steam…. you are clutching at straws…

          • JohnMcCormack

            You’re just lying. The police could not act because of the power of the Catholic Church, and the knowledge that every child rape victim would be discredited by the Catholic Church in court, so it would be difficult to get a conviction.

            Show me one case where the Catholic Church openly admitted this to the public before the spotlighti team made the truth public.

            Instead the Catholic Church made the victims signed documents where they had to keep silent about their child raping priest

          • JabbaPapa

            You’re just lying

            Nope.

            The police could not act because of the power of the Catholic Church

            This is just made-up bollocks.

            Show me one case where the Catholic Church openly admitted this to the public before the spotlighti team made the truth public

            The French Church has been routinely cooperating with the Police on such matters for **decades**, particularly after the Dutroux scandal caused many countries to realise that they needed better child protection measures in place. But not the US or Ireland, apparently, who both thought they could just carry on as before.

            Instead the Catholic Church made the victims signed documents where they had to keep silent about their child raping priest

            This is confusing to people — that “silence” does not concern any external criminal complaints, nor does it prevent them ; though there have been some cases, where cover-ups have occurred, of Church lawyers letting people believe that such documents were binding outside the Church, or indeed outside the period of the Church trial. This was a despicable method of some facilitators of the cover-ups.

            There simply is no Church document extant that could prevent anyone complaining to the Civil Authority of a crime that one has been the victim of, because the Canon Law has NO rights above nor over the Civil Law.

          • JohnMcCormack

            No but the Catholic Church will take their hush money back. You are very clever in terms of hiding the truth, just like you church

          • JabbaPapa

            Your BOLLOCKS is NOT “the truth”, you hateful nincompoop.

          • Amelia67

            H-m-m, but I remember when these stories first started generating major interest here in the U.S. that the Pope told the world that it was all because of the hypersexualized atmosphere in the U.S. and that it had nothing to do with, as the movie pointed out, “the system.” Yes, abuse of children is not limited to the Catholic priesthood, but of the major western religions, is there any other where the leadership of the organization both tolerated the abuse and showed more concern for its priests than for the victims? How many Protestant ministers whose pedophilia came to the attention of the denomination’s leaders were simply moved from church to church rather than being kicked out and turned over to the criminal system? There almost certainly were some, but there was no institution-wide attempt to protect the guilty.

      • mikewaller

        Given what Christ had to say on this topic:

        “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

        it strikes me as a pretty poor kind of Christian who seeks to deflect criticism from his own church by suggesting that others are likely to have done such disgusting things in even greater numbers.

        • ardenjm

          Not so. When Christ is struck unjustly when questioned by the Sanhedrin even He asks, “If I’ve told an untruth here show it to me, if not, then why do you strike me?”

          The Church must be held account for the crimes and evil done by her members – especially her prelates.
          But I see no reason at all why the Church should accept untruths when they are told, nor why she shouldn’t point out that the focus on her failings is part of historical agenda against the Church – certainly in English-speaking traditionally protestant countries.

          If your concern were really for those ‘little ones’ you evoke, you’d support my call that we show the same moral vigilance and scrutiny of EVERY institution that has had dealings with children.

          I suspect that your anti-Catholic animus is so much second nature (and probably quite mild until drawn by Catholics like myself who don’t join the bandwagon of bashing the Church no questions asked) that you’re not even aware that you hold the Church to a higher standard and thus find it concomittantly more reprehensible.
          Now, in a way, this is because you recognise that – despite the shoddiness of many of her clerics and members – the Church is what she claims to be: founded by Christ and the means by which He gives His saving grace to sinners. But whilst this back-handed compliment affirms the truth about the nature of the Church: so we MUST hold it to a higher standard than any other institution – it doesn’t mean that we can commit injustice in regard to her nor, in criticising her failings, fail to show the same vigilance in regard to anyone else.

          • mikewaller

            Sorry, but I believe that the above is just more obfuscation on your part. Certainly, I accept that Christ’s injunction to do unto others is the gold standard when it comes to morality. However, given that they have such priceless guidance as to how they should behave, when priests, vicars, pastors etc. etc. (i.e. Christian leaders of all denominations) behave badly they really should be made to pay a very heavy price. And whilst I have no particular knowledge as to what the Koran does or doesn’t say on the matter, I should consider it manifestly unjust were not the same standards applied to any Islamic spiritual leader who similarly offended. Sadly my guess would be that with the last of these, as was formally the case with the Catholic clergy, such is their control over believers I suspect that it would be very, very hard to build a case.

            To offer another parallel, I would expect police-persons who engage in crime to pay a higher price that an ordinary criminal. If you claim the moral high-ground, you should expect to get it in the neck if you behave badly.

          • ardenjm

            “If you claim the moral high-ground, you should expect to get it in the neck if you behave badly.”

            Of course.
            But as your extended reply below made manifest, as far as you’re concerned, the Catholic Church more than any other really REALLY deserved it because it’s the worst institution EVUH.

          • JabbaPapa

            To offer another parallel, I would expect police-persons who engage in crime to pay a higher price that an ordinary criminal

            Then why is it that you NEVER speak a word against at least two generations of Police, who routinely treated complaints of child molesting as not being worthy of their attention, and so letting all those criminals get off scot-free ?

            Nooooo … *much* cosier isn’t it, in your rancid anti-Catholicism, to accuse the Church of these gross failures by the Police.

          • mikewaller

            I think that you are starting to enter the realms of sadsackery. It was me who brought the police into it the first place. I despise corrupt police and have told others for years about their misdeeds. But it just so happens that here we are discussing a film about child abuse and the Catholic Church. My guess would be that most people reading this would think that both you and poor old “ardenjm” below will fling mud in any direction rather than face up to the full wickedness of elements within your Church having betraying so many.

            Incidentally, one gets much the same reaction from members of the police service when colleagues of theirs are in the frame. First, outright denial, then attacks on those pointing the finger and finally – if we are lucky -“its just one rotten apple”. What sad little creatures humans are!

          • JabbaPapa

            most people reading this would think that both you and poor old “ardenjm” below will fling mud in any direction rather than face up to the full wickedness of elements within your Church

            Then “most people” would be complete morons, packed up to the eyeballs with their own sickening brand of virtue-signalling bigotry.

          • Kevin Morgan

            “What is a venial sin for a layman is blasphemy for a priest.” – Pope St. John XXIII

          • JohnMcCormack

            The Catholic Church is by far the worst pedophile cult in American history. No one else is anywhere close.

            Spotlight showed that 18% of Catholic priests were pedophiles (271 out of 1500 Boston priests). And, since they were confessing it to each other, it was organized crime.

            No institution in American is anywhere near as bad, but obviously Catholics will it will lie and say that they are

          • JabbaPapa

            Spotlight showed that 18% of Catholic priests were pedophiles (271 out of 1500 Boston priests)

            Spotlight illustrates that so many were accused — but of course, I forget ; to such a small mind as yours, one is guilty unless proven innocent.

            the 18% number is in any case exaggerated — you omit the **time** factor — these abuses did not take place over the course of 2-3 years, but over a period of decades, during which time some priests moved on, others were ordained, some left ministry, others passed away. It’s more likely 159 out of 6000 or so.

          • JohnMcCormack

            The Catholic Church hid 100% of their known pedophile priests. You find out the real number when you die, but it is much larger than 271 in Boston.

            I love the fact that you just made up that number 159 out of 6000, with no proof and no truth whatsoever. That is truly Catholic

          • JabbaPapa

            The Catholic Church hid 100% of their known pedophile priests

            Utterly false — in countries that had (and have) proper child protection laws, competent Police, and a properly functional Criminal Justice system no such scandals of cover-up are to be found in the Church.

            This is because such men can be accused, arrested, put on trial, sent to prison, and defrocked.

            In such incompetent systems as existed in Boston, where they won’t even get arrested, there’s nothing that you can do with them, unless and until a newspaper decides to make a scandal out of it.

            I love the fact that you just made up that number 159

            159 is the exact number of clergy to have been *seriously* accused of such crimes in the records of the Boston diocese — this is NOT 159 “guilty”, it’s 159 with more serious accusations that were made against them.

            It’s your 271 number that appears to be without foundation. Your “out of 1500” is anyway **completely** wrong.

            6000 is just an estimate of how many priests there have been in the Diocese since about the 1950s to the 2000s, which is the period that is relevant to those 159 men and the accusations made against them.

          • JohnMcCormack

            Exactly where did you get the number 159, Dave.

            Prove any case in any other country where the Catholic Church admitted a pedophile priest before a victim came forward. It’s never happened. Catholics protect their pedophiles like Jesus would protect children

          • JabbaPapa

            admitted a pedophile priest before a victim came forward

            Are you insane ? How can somebody be “known as a paedophile” in the absence of any victims’ complaints ?

            Catholics protect their pedophiles

            Meanwhile, back in reality, complaints of child molesting must be forwarded to the Police, and the accused priest suspended if the Police think the case against him is serious enough to warrant investigation. And no, nobody “protects” them — that’s the whole horrid nature of this scandal ; that some Bishops, for whatever bad reasons, did the exact opposite of what the Church and the Catholic Faithful expected of them.

          • JohnMcCormack

            >Are you insane ? How can somebody be “known as a paedophile” in the
            >absence of any victims’ complaints ?

            Catholics “confess” their child rapes to each other, and others forgive it, in brutal defiance of Jesus in Matt 18:6-14. Brutal.

            Every bishop hid & protected every pedo they knew about, and the congregation did nothing when they found out, and now you defend them. All the opposite of what Jesus would do, and exactly what the devil would do.

          • JabbaPapa

            Catholics “confess” their child rapes to each other, and others forgive it

            You’re just inventing crap out of your own hatred and bigotry.

          • JohnMcCormack

            You will deny it, but Catholics invented a sacrament called “confession” that allows them to commit any evil and be forgiven in 15 minutes by “confessing” it to another, in brutal defiance of Jesus in Matt 18:6-14. Brutal.

      • JohnMcCormack

        TheMediaReport is just some Catholic pedophile lover selling books

    • Germainecousin

      Yes, I can’t see ‘One Night In Cologne’ being made anytime soon.

      • LoveMeIamALiberal

        Or ‘One Night in Islington’ – who would they find to play Margaret Hodge or Jeremy Corbyn?

      • Minstrel Boy

        It is odd how most film makers pose as committed ‘socialists’, while simultaneously being ardent, acquisitive capitalists. The Equity rates for actors, and the union rates for ancillary labour make film making a shockingly expensive business. It is mostly funded by bank loans negotiated by expensive lawyers on the basis of an expected huge return on investment if the ‘Distraction Entertainment’ proves sufficiently appealing to attract droves of paying customers. All about money in reality. So the ‘socialist pose’ is just a marketing tool, but is clearly an effective one in fooling the masses.

    • BritishPatriot

      Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis, and Anglican vicars are not obliged to live a life of sexual frustration and celibacy, and their seminaries (unlike Catholic ones) are not infested with homosexuals.

      • Hamburger

        I would not be so certain.

      • JabbaPapa

        Anglican … seminaries … are not infested with homosexuals.

        Spoken with quite a few people, including some vicars, who have stated that oh yes they are, including all sorts of camp cross-dressing goings on, gay parties, and etc etc.

        • Sue Smith

          Yes, I think time has proven this to me mostly accurate. Don’t know about the cross-dressing or gay parties, but the priesthood is certainly a hotbed of homosexuality. You can tell the minute a group of priests get together, which I usually observed at our local regional school-based Council meetings. There was a giggling naivete which made me unsettled and this was back before 2000.

          An erstwhile boyfriend of mine from the late 60s entered a seminary but was touched up the minute he got there and immediately left.

      • Sue Smith

        Honestly, I don’t think you can use the Celibacy debate to attempt to explain wholesale abuse of children. After all, this occurs across all faiths, schools and in organizations like the Scouting movement. It’s just the more shocking in the Church because of its relationship between the congregation, the priest and God.

        There was an infamous pedophile priest in our area and he died in jail about 3 years ago. I was, at that time, contemplating a return to Sunday Mass and I went to see him, our local parish priest. This was in 1999, before the scandal broke; I knew something wasn’t right with him because his eyes just glazed over when I wanted to talk about evangelical matters with him, canvassing my return to the fold. Nuh, he just wasn’t interested. He abused one of my son’s classmates who was then an altar boy and who has subsequently attempted suicide on more than one occasion. And the church gave the offending priest a full Catholic funeral!!!

        • JabbaPapa

          Even criminals deserve their funeral dignity.

          • Sue Smith

            Sure, but a full catholic requiem mass? Give me a break.

          • JJD

            The funeral Mass exists mainly to pray for the soul of the deceased, not to celebrate their life. He sounds like a dreadful man – I guess that is all the more reason to pray for his soul. I would entirely agree, however, that the tone of that Mass should be very sedate and simple. No eulogizing, no celebrations. No big public event. Just the prayers and the Mass and the burial.

          • JohnMcCormack

            No they don’t, except to Catholics

          • Sanctimony

            As, indeed, do you !

      • Minstrel Boy

        Your ignorance of madrassas, shuls, and Anglican cloisters is matched only by your stupid arrogance. Homosexuals abound among the ‘priestly castes’ of all religions, just as they abounded among the shamen of old.Their very nature and characters were what marked them out as being ‘different’ and so ‘in tune with the gods’. Catholics represent a minority of the world’s religious community and consequentially, assuming their rate of homosexual prevalence is as per other males, there will be less of them than amongst the Protestant and Muslim sects.
        The celibacy issue is a nonsense. In past days, Catholic clerics, even Popes, were frequently the founding fathers of entire dynasties and many were legally married, as in The Orthodox Church. Nest time do some research before blowing off like a windbag bollox. The Catholic prohibition on priests marrying was never really about celibacy, but much more about preventing a priest’s wife and children from inheriting property accumulated by the deceased. Like all religions pretending to be concerned with ‘the spiritual’, the Catholic Church always had a sharp eye to preserving and increasing its ‘material interests’. Same story with all of them. Give me money and I will ensure God is on your side. The rich, who often consider themselves cleverer than others, fall for it time after time! Suckers are born every minute!

    • JohnMcCormack

      Is the standard Catholic practice to distract from the truth.

      As this movie showed, the Catholic Church hid 271 pedophiles in Boston alone, which was 18% of the 1500 priests. No institution in American history is anywhere close, although Catholics will obviously lie.

      • Minstrel Boy

        The entire process is a neo-liberal effort aimed at distracting people from the much greater levels of abuse praciised by their co-religionist Protestant sects and their new Muslim colonists. They did exactly the same post -Reformation, when they allied themselves with The Ottoman Empire in an effort to secure the trade routes to the East. Now the motivation is to monopolise control of oil. The safety and security of children is nowhere on the neo-liberal agenda. They would sell their own mothers to keep control of the world markets. Simples!

        • JohnMcCormack

          Prove that any institution other than the Catholic Church had 271 pedophile priests in Boston alone, or 6,630 in the United States (which they admitted in the Schuth report of 2013).

          No other institution is anywhere close, and if they are, then they are not God’s church either, just like the Catholic Church is not.

          • JabbaPapa

            There’s the result of the Police and Criminal Courts failing to do their JOB.

          • JohnMcCormack

            Ha! This was the result of the Catholic Church being experts at committing and concealing rampant, organized child rape, and using the power of god to get away with it

  • Isabel Sinton

    Dear Deborah Ross: Spotlight is a door-opener. The major parties involved were not even sure it could be made. True. It does not unload both barrels at the church, but this would cause many kool-aide drinking Catholics to scream ‘Catholic Bashing !’ . Spotlight presents the facts in a low keyed manner. The mindset of people is changing. The world that puts clergy on a pedestal and gives them carte blanche is fading fast. Maybe both barrels won’t be necessary Deserved, yes, but not necessary to cause the righteous changes THAT ARE COMING.

    • Germainecousin

      ‘The world that puts clergy on a pedestal and gives them carte blanche is fading fast.’
      The tragedy is that not only are the clergy no longer (rightfully) held on a pedestal, many, many innocent ones are abused and pilloried by quite often very unpleasant people, whose own habits would not bear up well under scrutiny.
      ‘The rot extends way beyond the church, but the clergy will carry the cross for their own sins and the sins of others, and rightly so.’ The Rural Gentleman’ by D. Maguire.
      It is in the interest of absolutely nobody for justice to be done away with and responding to the abuse scandals by dismantling the church will merely pave the way for something much more frightening and uglier.

      • ardenjm

        The via dolorosa of the Church has only just begun – and it’s begun as the original via dolorosa began: with the betrayal by Apostles of Christ and His flock.

        And a progressive hardening of hearts will mean that Our Lord’s words will be fulfilled:
        “the hour is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God”

        • Sue Smith

          More Lazareth with a triple bi-pass than Gethsemane, I would submit.

      • Sue Smith

        Your final comments have opened a can of worms. As one of my colleagues used to say in the staffroom when these things periodically hit the headline, “what IS it with males? You certainly don’t find this kind of behaviour in females”!! Great question. She’d also ask much the same question after yet another mass shooting in the USA.

        • Sanctimony

          Have you not heard of the Magdalen asylums in Ireland… grotesque abuses by Irish nuns ?

        • GnosticBrian

          Irma Grese, Ilse Koch, Pauline Kneissler, Liselotte Meier, Erna Petri, Lisel Willhaus, Johanna Altvater, Myra Hindley, Delphine LaLaurie, Juana Barraza, Amelia Dyer, Marie Noe, Aileen Wuornos, Belle Gunness, Delfina and Maria de Jesus Gonzales, Enriqueta Marti – just a few examples from around the world.

          • Sue Smith

            What? They were pretty handy with AK47s, Kalishikovs and other devastating military hardware – and using it to mow down school children??!! And on a regular basis.

          • GnosticBrian

            I’m sorry – has your post been garbled by Discus?

            An AK47 is a Kalashnikov; it isn’t a particularly devastating piece of military hardware and yes the likes of Leila Khaled knew how to use one and was happy to pose with one – http://www.israelandstuff.com/why-is-california-paying-for-bash-israel-events.

          • Sue Smith

            Well, I’m unfamiliar with military hardware. I guess that’s a function of being female!! Again, women do not routinely massacre people in schools or universities in a nation not at war. I’m surprised you have to be told this.

          • GnosticBrian

            Ignorance of the subject doesn’t seem to prevent you posting in furtherance of what seems to be an anti-male agenda.

            When were the major western military powers (US and UK) not at war in the 70 years since the end of WW2? Most of the time they have been involved in fighting somewhere or other.

            And how many times has there been a routine” “massacre people in schools or universities” in the UK in the periods when we were not involved in fighting somewhere?

          • Sue Smith

            In the first place I was referring to comments made by a teaching colleague about events in the USA (read what I said) and, secondly, I’m not anti-male at all. The question implied concern about what would impel MALES to go on shooting sprees in the USA when women do not do such things THERE in the USA. It’s a question which needs answering if a solution is to be found. Sure, guns have something to do with it – but an aggrieved male could drive a Mack truck through a school playground creating carnage if it came to no guns being available.

          • GnosticBrian

            Please stop disembling, it does you no credit.

            Your post to which I initially responded reads:

            “Your final comments have opened a can of worms. As one of my colleagues
            used to say in the staffroom when these things periodically hit the
            headline, “what IS it with males? You certainly don’t find this kind of
            behaviour in females”!! Great question. She’d also ask much the same
            question after yet another mass shooting in the USA”.

            If you follow your own advice and READ what you wrote, you will see that the reference to male violence was NOT confined to the situation in the US. Your final sentence mentioned that your colleague “also” [which I take to mean IN ADDITION] raised the same issue in relation to the US.

          • Sue Smith

            CONTEXT, AUDIENCE, PURPOSE

          • GnosticBrian

            Caught out in a bare-faced lie and that is the best that you can say?

      • JohnMcCormack

        There is nothing more frightening and uglier than an organized child rape cult that claims to be “God’s church”.

        Even Jesus said it was unforgivable in Matthew 18:6-14

        • JabbaPapa

          You are a vile-minded liar.

          • JohnMcCormack

            You have no proof, no counterpoint, and your religion is the largest organized child rape cult in American history, and lied or hid the truth about their pedophilia.

            I will not worry about your opinion

          • JabbaPapa

            Your bigotry and hatred are plain to see.

            The Church as such is a victim of what those ghastly men have done, as is evidenced by the irrational feelings of anti-religious hatred that you have put out on display.

          • JohnMcCormack

            I am certainly bigoted against organized child rape, just like Jesus is, since he said it was unforgivable in Matthew 18:6-14

          • JohnMcCormack

            The Catholic Church hid and protected 100% of the known pedophile’s, and there were thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of them in the United States alone.

            The Catholic Church is the largest organized child rape cult in American history, and of course, Catholics consider themselves the victim. Devilishly clever.

          • JabbaPapa

            You’re little more than an ignorant and hateful liar.

        • cageofbeing

          You’re referencing that scripture incorrectly and you’ve done it in several places on this comment section.

          Contextually, “little ones” refers to any person who relies on Jesus for their salvation. The previous verses are ones in which Jesus explains to his disciples that if they wish to follow him, they must become like little children. This context is made doubly clear in vs. 6 when he says, “little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble…”

          When he speaks in the following verses about causing people to stumble, he’s discussing how those believers who cause another believer in the faith to sin because of their own poor personal choices will be judged for this.

          Certainly, this could be applied more broadly to the Catholic Church in terms of systematic injustices, but that does not seem to be how you’re applying this scripture.

          The word “unforgivable” is never used. There is only one unforgivable sin in the Bible and that is found at Mark 3:28-29.

          God’s church is both within and beyond the institutionalized walls of modern religion. There are most likely many Catholics who have genuinely pursued relationships with God and struggled with their faith in light of the revelations the scandal brought about, as well as Catholics who have not and have contributed to the cover ups. Your prejudice against Catholics as a whole and your lack of consideration for the grief many people felt at losing their trust in their church and seeing the pain that their church had brought to so many innocent children is unforgiving, unloving and therefore unChristian behaviour.

          • JohnMcCormack

            Then you will be forgiven with a rock around your neck at the bottom of the ocean. Or worse. Good enough for me.

          • JohnMcCormack

            You’re wrong, but people can read Matt 18:6-14 themselves and determine if Jesus was lying, or vague, and if He loved pedophiles and hated the victims.

            As for whether it means you will be forgiven, you will be forgiven with a rock around your neck at the bottom of the ocean. Or worse. Good enough for me.

    • JabbaPapa

      his would cause many kool-aide drinking Catholics to scream ‘Catholic Bashing !’

      Michael Keaton is a practising Catholic.

      Some Catholic-haters will take from the film only a skewed version of its contents, but to me, the key to the whole film is the moment that the Spotlight team comes to the sickening realisation that they themselves had been a part of the cover-up.

      The film’s very few inaccuracies are mostly centred around Cardinal Law, though to be fair the original journalists had made the very same mistakes in the first place.

      • Sue Smith

        Stephen Colbert is also a practicing Catholic.

      • JohnMcCormack

        You’re a liar. Michael Keaton is in no way a practicing Catholic. He is said so in interviews.

        However if you are a Catholic, lying is no big deal, since that’s what your church does about things like child rape.

        The Catholic Church was the ONLY group involved in the coverup, since they KNEW what was happening. Anyone else was just guessing, and at that time, you could not accuse the Catholic Church of the evil that we now know was standard Catholic practice for thousand years.

        • JabbaPapa

          OK, take out “practising”

          The Catholic Church was the ONLY group involved in the coverup

          … but you’ll sure jump onto that shining bandwagon of hatred, eh ?

          • JohnMcCormack

            Hating pedophiles? Yes, like Jesus (Matthew 18:6-14)

            Of course, Catholics and their remaining followers love their pedophiles, doing the opposite of what Jesus would do

          • JabbaPapa

            Catholics and their remaining followers love their pedophiles

            You really are a completely insane moron, aren’t you.

    • JJD

      Isabel, the “world that puts clergy on a pedestal and gives them carte blanche” is not fading fast – it completely faded out of existence quite a few years ago.

      The world we now live in is one where any vestigial respect for priests has vanished, and in its place has come mockery, derision and contempt.

      Personally, I don’t like either of those worlds.

  • Gilbert White

    Most Irish Dad’s had their daughter’s cherry at one time but we will never have a census on this fact?

    • FMA

      Does the thought turn you on, Gilbert, since you have decided to mention it again? Are you typing one-handed? Are you yet another filthy pervert?

    • kevinlynch1005

      Perhaps you should write a dissertation on this proposition and then publish it here?

      • FMA

        Perhaps he should learn how to use the question mark first?

        • Sue Smith

          It’s a hideous comment and should not be allowed to remain on here.

  • mikewaller

    This film just received a significantly more favourable review on Radio 4. Could it be that Ms Ross is by now far too over-exposed to the medium to look with unjaundiced eyes at a film aiming for straightforward reportage without the “sexing-up” usually felt necessary?

  • Marshal Phillips

    I saw the film; and lived and worked in Boston during the time of the scandal. In my view the movie certainly correctly reflected the pervasive power of the church in Boston at that time.

  • Sue Smith

    I haven’t seen the film so I cannot comment but, on the face of it, the repetition of the phrase looks a little worrying.

  • JohnMcCormack

    The movie Spotlight shows how difficult it is to get the truth out of an organized crime syndicate. A team of Boston journalists worked tirelessly to find out that the Catholic church knowingly was running a massive organized childrape crime syndicate in Boston and around the world back in a time when the Catholic Church had a powerful influence. It also shows how Catholic followers tried to help the church get away with it.

    That’s why the movie had to be more gentle. Catholics get very offended when you talk about how evil their child rape cult is, but if it’s 100% true, they can’t wind as much.

    Make no mistake, Spotlight is a movie about organized crime, featuring the Catholic church, the largest organized childrape crime syndicate in the history of the US, and in BRUTAL defiance of Jesus in Matt 18:6-14, where Jesus said childrape was unforgivable.

    This movie shows how the Catholic church exhibited the same “code of silence” that the mafia has, without the honor, as they were protecting at least 249 “confessed” pedo-priests in Boston.

    The Catholic church admitted 4,329 substantiated, accused pedophile priests in the US in their own John Jay report of 2004, and of course they lied. Since 2004, they have found an ADDITIONAL 6,630 pedo-priests according to the USCCB Schuth report of 2013.

    And the Catholic church hid & protected 100% of their known pedo-priests, worldwide (Matt 18:6-14). Cowardly, rampant, unforgivable evil, in brutal defiance of Jesus.

    • JJD

      You talk as if the CC exists to rape children and nothing else. However inglorious its child protection record might be – and it’s pretty inglorious – your silly hyperbole just make you sound… well, silly. Which is a shame, because there is a serious point at issue.

      • JohnMcCormack

        I told the truth. You can and for anything you want, but there is no question that the Catholic Church is the largest organized child rape crime syndicate in American history

        • JabbaPapa

          I told the truth

          The truth is not made of such extremist lies as you have been posting here.

          • JohnMcCormack

            Show a specific lie. You can’t.

        • JJD

          It is always possible, but not usually advisable, to characterize institutions, or indeed nations, or people – according to their least flattering traits or most ignominious deeds.

          What if I say “The US is the most murderous nation on the planet” because it dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? And then I start saying the USA is nothing but a political front for mass murder, and you can “and” all you like, but you can’t deny it?

          That’s more or less what you’re trying to pull vis-a-vis the RCC. And just like there are a whole lot of Americans who had nothing to do with the bomb, so there are a whole lot of Catholics who have nothing to do with the child rape.

          • JohnMcCormack

            You can certainly characterize institutions by their worldwide policies. The Catholic Church hid 100% of their known pedophiles, and had the largest organized child rape crime institution in American history, by far.

            Is perfectly acceptable to characterize them as a child rape cult, acting in brutal defiance of Jesus in Matthew 18:6-14, doing exactly the opposite of what Jesus would do, and using the power of God to get away with it.

            Any Catholic could leave the church in a moments notice, but instead, they remain and defend and support a filthy rich pedophile protection program, which helps them worship their god. It’s just not the real God

          • JJD

            One gets the impression that you don’t like the CC, and that there’s more than a little of that personal animus invested in your comments. Not the most objective analysis, when all is said and done. Nor the most pleasant. But I suppose that’s what freedom of speech is. If I want it for sensible people, I’ve got to defend it even for the prejudiced and the ignorant.

            Thanks for your replies.

          • JohnMcCormack

            In other words, you can’t respond with the truth. Catholics try to avoid God and the truth in every way they can.

          • JabbaPapa

            Any Catholic could leave the church in a moments notice, but instead, they remain and defend and support a filthy rich pedophile protection program

            This viciously obnoxious LIE does nothing but reveal the viciously obnoxious mind of the man who devised it.

            You are full of maggots, driftwood, and mildew.

    • JabbaPapa

      As I wrote earlier, Some Catholic-haters will take from the film only a skewed version of its contents, but to me, the key to the whole film is the moment that the Spotlight team comes to the sickening realisation that they themselves had been a part of the cover-up.

      They set out to investigate a few bad apples, only to realise that Boston society as a whole was complicit in covering the whole thing up and letting people get away with these crimes, including ultimately the complicity of the journalists themselves for not having acted 15-20 years earlier or more.

      • JohnMcCormack

        That is a standard Catholic lie. Only the Catholic Church KNEW. Everyone else was just guessing, and at the time, there were people that believed in the Catholic Church, so they never thought it would be possible that the church was running a massive organized child rape ring, which they obviously were.

        Catholics will obviously blame everyone else, but only the Catholic Church KNEW the truth, and of course the church hid it

        • JabbaPapa

          You’re the one publishing lies in here, matey, not me.

          I mean — crikey, have you even bloody **seen** the film ???

          Isn’t it **obvious** that virtually every single character is completely in the dark about these goings on right up to the point that the Globe publishes the story ?

          I mean, do you fricking understand what “cover-up” even means in the first place ?

          It does NOT mean that there’s some vast conspiracy going on with hundreds of people involved fore the purpose of organising some **stupid** “child rape rings” — it means that the truth of these matters was kept hidden and was known to only a tiny number of people — whose purpose was not to “organise child rape” you loony, but to manage a situation that they had no control over because the Police and Criminal Courts were not doing their bloody job and taking these men off the streets and into prison.

          • JohnMcCormack

            Yes, I have seen the film.

            The Catholic Church was the group that did the entire cover up. They knew about every single pedophile priest, they hid 100% of their pedophile priests, and the movie makes it clear that they use their power to get away with it, because back then, people didn’t know that they were Americas largest organized child rape crime ring.

            Only a Catholic would blame the police for a crime that is incredibly hard to prove, and that the church absolutely knew the truth about, and the church refused to tell the truth about.

          • JabbaPapa

            The Catholic Church was the group that did the entire cover up

            So why then are there all those characters of Policemen, lawyers, even the Boston Globe’s journalists all having to face up to the fact that they themselves assisted in the cover-up efforts ???

            They knew about every single pedophile priest

            The “catholic church” isn’t a bunch of men in clerical garb — the Catholic Church is each and every Catholic, and it is quite clear that a small number of men abused their rank within the local Boston church to hide the truth of this scandal from everyone, including from both the local Boston church and the broader Catholic Church.

            Or what, are you saying that the direct victims and their families, all Catholics, were and are to blame for these crimes as being part of the Church that you want to vent your hatred and bile against ???

            Anyway, it’s quite clear from the tone of your comments that you’ve not even bothered to find out the FACTS of the matter, who did wrong, how, why, and when (and who didn’t) — what the intrinsic flaws were in both legal systems involved, both Civil and Canon, nor anything else of any meaningful pertinence to anything of this.

            Only a Catholic would blame the police

            If you were to, I dunno, actually read the primary investigation sources, the Police themselves blame the Police for their institutionalised inaction towards bringing these criminals to justice.

            The Boston Police BTW has a FAR greater number of officers than the Boston church has priests.

          • JohnMcCormack

            The Catholic “everybody'[s doing it, so that makes it ok, especially if the Catholic church approves is” argument, which is one of the devil’s favorite.

            The Cahtolic church KNEW, since they heard every confession from every pedo priest who raped a child, then they pressured Catholics to keep it quiet, and paid hush money to victims. Every choice the choice of the devil himself. God knows you as a strong defender.

            It is a lie to call the 271 known pedo priests in Boston “a small number”, but that’s what the devil would say.

            Prove that the police blame thier inaction, and prove they are worse than the church. If you are wrong, of course, you are supporting the devil , for which you will be remembered by God.

          • JabbaPapa

            The Catholic “everybody'[s doing it, so that makes it ok

            FFS you’ve made yourself as blind as a bat with your mindlessly idiotic prejudice and hatred.

            It is a lie to call the 271 known pedo priests in Boston “a small number”

            I was referring to the number of **bishops** who engaged in cover-up, you illiterate twerp.

            prove they are worse than the church

            I cannot magically remove your irrational hatred of all things Catholic from the inside of your prejudiced brain.

          • JohnMcCormack

            100% of Catholic bishops that knew about a pedo priest hid them. That is as big of number as you can get.

            So you can’t prove anything, so you have no fact, so you insult people. Standard Catholic approach.

          • JabbaPapa

            100% of Catholic bishops that knew about a pedo priest hid them

            This is what’s known colloquially as a COMPLETE AND UTTER LIE.

          • neil allen

            Then prove the bishops that gave pedo priests up to the police before a victim came forward. Show online proof from a legitimate site.

            *crickets*

          • JabbaPapa

            It is NOT possible, you nincompoop, to accuse someone of crimes if nobody has complained.

          • neil allen

            Really? Even if they fully admitted it in “confession”, or admitted it outside confession, or if they were caught by another priest? Really??

          • JabbaPapa

            You clearly have no understanding of any of these things.

            If they were caught by another priest, this priest would be bound by Canon Law to report the offence to the Police.

            If someone admitted it outside confession, the priest would be bound by Canon Law to report the offence to the Police.

            These scandalous cover-ups were **illegal** in the framework of Catholic Canon Law, and no quantity of lies, exaggerations, hatred, bile, or bigotry can change this fact.

            In the US and Ireland the cover-ups were NOT illegal in the framework of the Civil Laws, because these did not define child molesting as a criminal offense.

      • John Hancock

        So, people who against child rape and molestation are “catholic-haters”! Good to know! You delusional loser.

  • Sanctimony

    I spent 10 years of my life under the tender mercies of the Jesuits…. the first five years being the period, upon reflection, when I subsequently realised that I had been the victim of none too subtle brainwashing….

    This was instilled by the constant presence and fear of brutal physical violence and the demonic and incessant subjection to the Catholic catechism.

    Certain boys of an attractive physical disposition were invited into the Jesuit dormitory’s supervisor’s room of an evening and we, unfancied, members of the prep school dormitory would have to listen to the squeals of delight… and God knows what else… but one of the prettier boys of this perv Jesuit’s cabal of acolytes, a scion of a prominent Catholic recusant family, went home and told his parents of how Father Xavier had taught him about wonderful things he could do with his willy….

    Upon our return from that particular exeat, we were told by the Jesuit headmaster that Father Xavier had been summoned urgently to minister to the needs of the Catholic congregation of the remotest Jesuit parish in Britain, in the Orkneys…

    Only one boy did not cheer at this announcement… the fey, pretty catamite who had lost his sugar daddy….

    • John Hancock

      Pity nobody killed him for raping a child.

  • Lucas

    This film is a based on reality and the reality is that this wicked institution has not been punished for its crimes. If this was any other institution it would have been shut down and its leaders imprisoned yet none of the catholic hierarchy who facilitated the rape of kids have been punished, quite the opposite, as this film shows.

    The reason that the film “doesn’t, for example, indulge our longing to see the smile wiped off the Cardinal’s face at the end, even though that was my greatest wish. ” is because he never had that smile wiped off, he was sent to the vatican to take up a prestigious position, he was not punished!

    This film reflects reality and that is why it is so quietly devastating.

    As someone who has read many books (everyone must read the case of the pope by Geoffrey Robertson) and articles on this matter it was incredible to see a cinema full of people having the true evil of the Catholic church revealed to them over 2 hours. My only wish is that Christopher Hitchens were still alive to see this happen.

    Surely the Catholic Church must now be done, at least for anyone who has seen this film.

    And if someone has watched this film and can still call themselves a Catholic we must judge them harshly indeed.

    • JabbaPapa

      Crikey, you talk massive amounts of crap, don’t you.

      the catholic hierarchy who facilitated the rape of kids

      Try again — the Boston Police forces and Justice system which utterly failed those children by allowing those criminals to stay unprosecuted, “innocent” by default, and left them their freedom under the “responsibility” of men with neither the power nor the authority to substitute themselves for the criminal justice system.

      the Cardinal … was sent to the vatican to take up a prestigious position, he was not punished

      In fact, he was accused, went to Court, and the Judges determined that there was insufficient evidence against him to have any chance of securing a conviction, and so dropped all charges. He then went into exile at the Vatican, where he lives in greatly impoverished conditions in a tiny apartment and where he is a persona non grata.

      This film reflects reality

      Your post reflects bigotry and hatred, and you are stupid and ignorant enough to think that your warped perceptions of the Church or even such scandals that have existed in some local Churches are the same thing as the Church herself. Most local (this means national) Churches had exactly ZERO scandal of cover-ups of that nature. This is because the local Police and criminal justice systems actually DID their fecking jobs !!!!

      And if someone has watched this film and can still call themselves a Catholic we must judge them harshly indeed

      You are a complete moron, aren’t you.

      • Sanctimony

        where he lives in greatly impoverished conditions in a tiny apartment… he lives in a f…..g Palazzo, for god’s sake !

      • greencoat

        Thank you for this post.

    • greencoat

      ‘This film is a based on reality and the reality is that this wicked institution has not been punished for its crimes.’

      This applies ten times over to the BBC, the UN, the EU….just for starters.

      We’re still waiting for films about their cover-ups. Mind you, each of them would need a trilogy…..

    • greencoat

      Your friend Christopher Hitchens has gotten his wages….

  • ant

    Spot on. If anything, Boston comes across as a bit of **** of a city all round. Police, lawyers, Church, media and let’s not forget those lovely bars full of Oirish Americans of the NORAID days. All speaking in that stupid accent. And Mark Ruffalo is scene-chewingly bad.

  • ajcb

    Too bad — I usually agree with Deborah Ross, but this time I think she is way off.
    The film was good PRECISELY because it wasn’t glibly triumphalist. And ok, it has its longeurs, but a lot of journalism is like that. I thought (hoped) it might ignite a generation of investigative reporters the way that All the President’s Men did, particularly since this is a bigger and more spectacular good deed than Woodward and Bernstein accomplished. Throughout the film I was reminded of my life in another Catholic city, Milwaukee, in the late 1980s in which the goodness and faith of Catholic laypeople, not to mention the vulnerability of black boys from very troubled homes, was exploited by a cynical and sexually ravenous clergy (no overstatement). I and a lot of people like me could have said something, but we (shamefully) succumbed to inertia and did nothing. Valuable film, sorry, Ms Ross.

  • John Hancock

    The church sanctioned and authorized the wholesale abuse and molestation of tens of thousands over the course of decades. They’re scum.

Close
Can't find your Web ID? Click here