Each Catholic Mass should begin with the Latin phrase, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”.
Spotlight is a brilliant film that forces everyone, including fallen away Catholics like me, to relive the shame that the Church brought upon itself. Despite the inroads made by Pope Francis, the sad reality is that the Roman Catholic Church intentionally hid from the public the fact that many of its priests around the world were child molesters.
In Spotlight, Director Tom McCarthy presents in heartbreaking fashion how the Boston Globe finally broke this monstrous story in 2001-2002. Because of the difficult work of several admirable reporters, they documented that close to 250 priests in the Boston area had molested over 1000 children over several decades. With their superiors having full knowledge of their crimes, these priests were simply transferred from one parish to another where they continued their sordid offenses.
Even though you know how the film will end, it leaves you in an increasingly confused state of mind. The performance of an array of wonderful actors creates a gravitational pull from the opening scene, yet you are left disgusted with how many priests were protected by the Church hierarchy.
Michael Keaton follows his Oscar nominated role in last year’s Birdman with his performance as the Globe reporter in charge of the investigation team known as Spotlight. While both John Slattery and Liev Schreiber have significant roles as Keaton’s supervisors, the film focuses on the efforts of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian D’Arcy James as the reporters who gradually uncover an astonishing story. Additionally, Stanley Tucci and Billy Crudup are very good as lawyers who represented victims with conflicting professional goals.
As I watched this colossal film, I was reminded of my days in grade school in Southern Indiana where I attended a Catholic school. I served mass for over 5 years, and I got to know the priests in my Batesville parish quite well. Though I am grateful that nothing inappropriate occurred in that priest/child relationship, I have saved some wonderful stories that are hysterical beyond description.
On the other hand, even though I graduated from Marian College in 1969, a Catholic institution, the Church quickly lost any meaning for me and many friends. By the time I graduated, I observed several priests leave the church, not the least of whom was a wonderful human being in charge of the theology department whose marriage I attended in the early 1970s.
For all of the criticism inflicted on Muslims in our country today, it is stunning that the Catholic Church still largely succeeds in hiding its shame. Though they shamefully turned a blind eye to the sad fact that thousands of their priests were molesting children, they still want us to follow their lead as they discriminate against women with their stand on gay marriage, abortion, contraceptives and the denial of women in the priesthood.
When my aunt, a divorced woman married to my godfather, was dying of breast cancer, she was refused communion when receiving the Last Rites. Though she never missed church on a Sunday, in her honor I will never go back.