'Spotlight' Movie A Portrait Of Misplaced Trust - Hope 103.2

‘Spotlight’ Movie A Portrait Of Misplaced Trust

Laura Bennett reviews 'Spotlight', the film exploring The Boston Globe’s 2001 inquisition of the Catholic Church and its child abuse cover-up.

By Laura BennettMonday 1 Feb 2016MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

A review by Laura Bennett

When you’re invited to a film screening whose synopsis reads: “Journalists investigate allegations against an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys”… you know that (a) this isn’t a popcorn flick, and (b) the church might be in for a mud-slinging match.

Based on The Boston Globe’s 2001 inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church and undisclosed child molestation cases, Spotlight follows one of the most notable recent religious scandals.

A team of journalists work to prove that systemic dysfunction caused the cover up, attempting to bring justice to all involved. The church, having worked hard to keep its issues behind closed doors, is centre-stage in a modern newsroom mystery.

In the testimony of one victim, we’re told abuse wasn’t just physical and mental—it was spiritual.

Wayward clergymen stole the faith of youth. Priests’ horrific crimes “sullied the place that would have been a solace”, destroying victims’ foundational relationships with the Divine.

Innocent people learnt to distrust authority and so-called ‘godly’ leadership.

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Catholics (and indeed, all Christians) are confronted with brokenness caused by scandalous misconduct, and are encouraged to ask: does our faith rest on a fleeting institution, or an infinite God?

The church is not only responsible for criminal accusations, but for spiritual trauma inflicted on its members.

A Reminder To Trust In God, Not The Church

The cast of Spotlight

So the question is this: are we misplacing our trust?

If our faith rests wholly on institutionalized church, then I would say, “Yes.”

Christ’s description of the church is as His ‘hands and feet’, His body. The church He came to build is intended to be an expression of His love on earth—carrying the gospel message into all cultures, displaying His will for humanity.

Separate that mantle from its chief Cornerstone, and you have disempowered members. Man’s fallibility leads, and our failings hinder salvation. ‘Church’ becomes nothing more than a gathering, and our impact is diluted.

Our imperfections and failings bring change only when they’re submitted to God, and covered (forgiven, redeemed, transformed, re-assigned) by His grace.

As presenter Stephen Colbert said, “It’s a terrible story for the church, but the only way for the church to heal is for the truth to be known”.

He is where our faith should lie. He is where our salvation comes from. Not those who are His hands and feet, and not the institutions that house them.

For victims of these heinous crimes and churchgoers globally, “I’m sorry” and “we all make mistakes”, are undeniably weak excuses. Poor judgment and lack of restraint are no consolation for such personal violation.

However if opportunity is to be found in unfolding their stories, it’s in the audience’s ability to reassess the anchor of their faith, and the church’s willingness to reconsider their role.

As presenter Stephen Colbert said, “It’s a terrible story for the church, but the only way for the church to heal is for the truth to be known”.

Spotlight deserves any credit it receives for preferring journalistic integrity to salaciousness, and thoughtful dialogue to haphazard mud fights. It’s a pure picture of what Hollywood taking on the church can do.