[Movie Review] Spotlight: A Story That Exposes the Church’s Scandal (Director Thomas McCarthy) (a movie based on the true story of the Boston Globe)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

(Click This Image to Go Directly to the Amazon Prime Video Movie “Spotlight”: Image from Amazon.com)

I will write an article about this movie/book

Three takeaways from this article

  1. I don’t think I truly understand the impact of being “raped by God.”
  2. The reality of many people acknowledging the “wrongdoings by the church” yet still saying “the church is necessary.”
  3. Depicting journalists who confront powerful forces while struggling with conflicts and dilemmas.

If we don’t pay more attention to “investigative journalism,” “keeping power in check” cannot be continued.

Self-introduction article

Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

The Shock of Being “Raped by God.” The Church that Continued to Cover it Up. And the Struggle of a Small Newspaper to Expose it to the Light of Day

I Cannot Really Understand All the “Impact” that This Movie Portrays

I am not a Christian. I do not believe in any religion, and I live my life without any “object of faith,” not just limited to religion. Some people may have an absolute standard in their minds, such as “the idol group they support” or “the words and actions of a fortune-teller.” In such cases, the absolute existence takes on a “religious” meaning, but for me, it means that there is also no such existence. Or, I believe in “science,” but it is because I believe in “scientific methods and verification,” and not because I unconditionally believe in science itself.

And I, who do not have any “object of belief”, would not be able to fully understand the “impact” depicted in this movie.

In this film, regardless of what it may be, the person is raped by the being they believe is “God”.

Can you refuse God?

Imagine being raped by an entity that you perceive as “god”, even though it may be difficult. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. This is because in this movie, it portrays sexual abuse by a priest on “boys.”

It may be hard to imagine, but the despair and suffering that comes with it is at the center of this movie. Moreover, it is the children who are victimized. While any form of sexual abuse is terrible, it can be said that abuse towards children is the lowest of the low.

A small local newspaper exposes the dark side of the church that had been engaging in such despicable acts for years and covering them up. This is a story based on true events.

The Locals Knew about the Church’s Misdeeds

However, the scandal of the church was a well-known fact in the local community. It wasn’t just the citizens who knew about it. The police, the court, the lawyers, and of course, the newspapers knew about it. Cardinal was also aware of it and was carrying out cover-up operations.

So, why wasn’t this fact widely known to the world until “the Boston Globe” published an article in 2002?

It is because of the “church’s immense authority.”

The church can do anything. Anything.

This is the citizens’ perception. During the process of interviewing people who were victimized in the past, journalists are also told things like this.

The Church has existed for centuries. Can a newspaper company win?

He’s a priest. There’s no choice but to obey.

It’s hard for me to imagine, and I think it’s probably beyond the imagination of many Japanese people, but it seems that the power of the “Church” is so great that even knowing that they are committing “sexual abuse”, their authority does not decline.

Faith would be a big factor there after all.

The Church is a human-made organization. It will eventually perish. But faith is eternal.

It seems to be a reasoning that “regardless of the state of the Church, ‘faith in Christianity’ remains, and if ‘faith in Christians’ remains, then the Church is necessary.” As someone who doesn’t have faith, it feels like an incredible judgment to me, but Christianity must be an inseparable part of Americans’ lives.

Furthermore, the existence of the “Church” is important even in areas unrelated to “faith”.

For children from poor families, the Church is important.

I’m not well-versed in the details, but in America, the “Church” seems to function as a kind of “safety net”. That’s why there are people who say things like this.

But people need the church. We can’t throw away a lot of good for a little bit of evil.

I cannot agree with calling “child sexual abuse” a “little bit of evil.” However, the fact that the existence of the church is essential not only for faith but also for the community seems to make people want to judge it that way.

“Exposing” something that no one knows is difficult but not impossible. However, “exposing” something that everyone knows is an act so improbable as to be a contradiction the use of language. Yet, the Boston Globe had to get over such a contradiction.

The Struggle of the Boston Globe

The Boston Globe struggled to “expose” what was already known to everyone. However, it was an incredibly difficult path.

In the first place, 53% of readers of “the Boston Globe” are Catholic believers, and naturally, there are also those among the reporters’ families who actively attend church. While it is the largest-circulation newspaper in Boston, it is ultimately just a “local paper” that relies on subscriptions from locals. Criticizing the “church” supported by local residents on the pages of such a newspaper requires considerable determination.

We are not giving up anything. We won’t run away.

Reporters are also often from the local area. If they publish this article, it may also affect them who continue to live in the area.

Baron is an outsider. He will go elsewhere in two years. But where will you go?

Still, they decided to do it because they had their own regrets.

Even though we knew something was wrong, we did nothing. That will end with our generation.

As mentioned earlier, the newspaper company also knew about the “misdeeds of the church”. Despite hearing about it, they did nothing. However, they question themselves: Is it okay for us, who should monitor the authorities and convey the truth, to just let it be? They decided to take action and pursued the investigation. In the process, various hidden truths that even they did not know about were revealed.

“Who will take responsibility if we turn this document into an article?”
“Well, who will take responsibility if we don’t?”

However, determination alone cannot open heavy doors. Earlier, I quoted the line “The church can do anything. Anything.” and it is not an exaggeration. The church can manipulate things to their advantage against the police, the court, and lawyers. They can even hide evidence submitted to the court. It is safe to say that they can do whatever they want.

Victims who were once harmed are pressured by the Church. Even if a newspaper tries to interview them, they keep their mouths shut. In fact, they’re even kicked out and told to leave them alone. Moreover, during this investigation, the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. The reporters couldn’t keep focusing on the Church investigation and ended up angering those who were waiting for “the Boston Globe” to report.

However, “the Boston Globe” ultimately repeated a tremendous amount of tedious work based on public information and obtained compelling evidence that cannot be denied.

Suffering of Victims and an Unchanging Church

Through the interviews, the reporters learns about the various sufferings of the victims.

One priest was targeting only children who were “poor, without parents, or from broken homes.” These were children who had nowhere else to go but the church. Some victims even said, “That’s why I couldn’t refuse the priest’s actions.”

Many people are living with the fact that they were sexually abused by priests in the past, and are still suffering today without being able to digest those memories.

However, this is not the worst part.

He’s one of the lucky ones. He’s still alive.

Although not depicted in detail, there would be some who have committed suicide due to the sexual abuse by priests. It is surprising that the church not only conceals the facts, but also continues to produce victims in the present.

According to an investigation by “the Boston Globe,” it was revealed that 249 priests in the Boston Parish were involved in sexual abuse, with over 1,000 victims.

However, I suspect that this investigative reporting changed little or nothing as a result.Although the movie doesn’t go into detail about what happened afterwards, it does touch upon the Cardinal Law, who was in Boston Parish at the time of the report, and his subsequent actions at the end of the film. He was transferred to a Parish in the Vatican and apparently promoted to a higher position.

Is this the kind of world we want?

Content Introduction

The former director retired and Marty Baron became the new director of “the Boston Globe”. He focused on the “Geoghan’s case” that the paper had reported on before, which was about Father Geoghan sexually abusing children. Baron felt that this case had not been properly investigated yet and ordered the “Spotlight” team to do some reporting on it.

“Spotlight” is a historic special feature section of “the Boston Globe.” Once they choose a topic, reporters spend two months gathering information and then publish a long-term series for the next a year as part of the paper’s tradition.

The reporters who started the investigation realized that the darkness of the church was deeper than they had expected. The church wants people to believe that only a few priests have committed wrongdoings, and the reporters initially thought the same. However, as the investigation progressed, the list of priests who were believed to have committed sexual abuse within Boston Parish continued to grow rapidly.

In short, this is not just a problem of individual priests, but a problem of the organization called the Church.

They have resolved not to see it as just an issue of individual priests…


One of the best things about this movie is that “the newspaper does not seem to be wielding justice.”

When “mass media” are depicted in a story, it may appear as a high-handed presence that conducts interviews with a sense of righteousness, declaring “we are on the side of pursuing justice”. Of course, some forcefulness may be necessary to extract the truth, but personally, I cannot come to like such methods.

I do not know how the actual reporters of “the Boston Globe” acted, but the portrayal of the reporters in this movie is very good. The reporters also struggle while trying to move forward.

I think they don’t have an attitude of “we are the righteous ones” because, as mentioned earlier, they also feel guilty. Although they did not accurately grasp the actual situation, he was aware of “sexual abuse by priests” and did not try to dig deeper into it, which is the reason.

Especially, the desk of “Spotlight,” Robbie, is permeated with regret.

What about us? We had the information. But we did nothing.

Robbie still can’t shake the feeling that they could have done more earlier. Additionally, while investigations into the church were initiated by orders from Editor Baron, typically it’s up to the reporters of “Spotlight” to decide what their investigative theme would be. In other word, he regrets that without the irregular act that the Editor selected the theme, it would have taken more time to reveal the “evils of the church” and if that had been the case, the number of victims would have been much higher.

Therefore, Robby has decided to fight against the church without hesitation. Even at the stage where enough information had already been gathered to be called a “scoop,” he decided to make them continue their investigation to point out that the problem was not just with individual priests, but with the church as a whole. This is a powerful story depicting the struggle of reporters who “accuse God.”


If there is no “watchdog” to monitor those in power, democracy cannot function properly. In today’s world, the media such as newspapers and television are the ones who can take on that responsibility.

However, newspapers and news programs are likely struggling financially. Personally, I try to consciously watch news programs on TV, but I have never subscribed to a newspaper. There have been several times in my life where I thought, “I should probably read a newspaper,” but I never found the time to do so and have never subscribed.

If the media continues to decline, not only will it be unable to monitor the church, but it will also be unable to monitor various public authorities such as politics, the judiciary, and the police. If that happens, democracy will become even more difficult to maintain.

In other words, we need to take more interest in “investigative journalism” by the media.

Watching this movie based on a shocking true story, I was reminded of the importance of an entity that uncovers the truth even if it goes against those in power. We need to think together about ways for society to preserve such an entity.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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