Vatican newspaper praises Spotlight for confronting ‘horrendous realities’

Holy See-owned L’Osservatore Romano hails Tom McCarthy’s best picture Oscar winner, which shows systemic abuse and cover-ups by Catholic church



The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has praised the 2016 best picture Oscar winner Spotlight for its convincing attempt to show abuse and cover-ups in the Catholic church.

The newspaper published a front-page editorial on Monday hailing Tom McCarthy’s film and calling it “not anti-Catholic”. The editorial said Spotlight, which centres on the work of a group of Boston Globe reporters to uncover abuse by Roman Catholic priests, faithfully presented the church’s attempts to defend itself in the face of “horrendous realities”.

“Not all monsters wear cassocks. Paedophilia does not necessarily arise from the vow of chastity,” wrote the editorial’s author, Lucetta Scaraffia. “However, it has become clear that in the Church some are more preoccupied with the image of the institution than of the seriousness of the act.”

Spotlight paints a picture of widespread abuse by members of the Catholic church in Boston and elsewhere, with officials turning a blind eye to the molestation of hundreds of children by priests over a period of decades. The reporters responsible won the 2003 Pulitzer prize for public service.

Accepting the best picture prize on Sunday night, producer Michael Sugar said he hoped the film had given a voice to the survivors of the abuse that would “become a choir that would resonate all the way to the Vatican”. He continued with a direct call to the pontiff: “Pope Francis, it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith.”

L’Osservatoire Romano’s editorial insisted such pleas “should be seen as a positive sign,” adding: “There is still trust in the institution, there is trust in a Pope who is continuing the cleaning begun by his predecessor.”

In February, the film was screened privately for staff working for a new commission set up by Pope Francis to fight sex abuse within the Catholic church.

L’Osservatore Romano has been owned by the Holy See since 1861 but is no longer as conservative as it once was. In 1960, it launched a full-scale attack on La Dolce Vita, labelling Federico Fellini’s classic of Roman indolence and debauchery an “incitement to evil crime and vice”, deploring its effect on “unsafe minds” and rebuking Fellini for trying to “moralise through immorality”.

More recently, the newspaper has taken a more liberal approach to cinema, complaining last year that the villains in Star Wars: The Force Awakens were not evil enough and even praising 2012’s Skyfall for its “extremely beautiful Bond girls”.

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