New Film “Spotlight” Tackles Sex Abuse by Catholic Priests

In 2003, a group of reporters from The Boston Globe were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their investigation into sex crimes covered up the Catholic Church. Now, a new film, Spotlight, tells the true story of the journalists’ endeavor.

The film follows the journalists as they fight for access to sealed documents, ask uncomfortable questions and conduct the tedious work of investigative reporting. Spotlight also highlights the work of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, founded by Barbara Blaine, which lobbies for action on priest sex abuse.

Blaine says she hopes the film spurs the Catholic Church hierarchy to take action on sexual abuse by clergy.

“I hope parishioners in every diocese demand to see the files and expose the names of the credibly accused so that children can be safe and survivors can heal,” she says. “If [reporting] teams investigated other dioceses they would find the same dirty secrets hidden. Vatican officials continue to conceal crimes and refuse to remove perpetrators.”

The Catholic Church has issued guidance and talking points to U.S. dioceses on the film, which hit theaters earlier this month. Catholic leaders say that the church has changed and much progress has been made on the issue of abuse by priests since the Globe conducted its investigation.

Blaine, however, disagrees, saying church officials still aren’t doing enough to protect Catholics.

“If Pope Francis wanted to protect the children, he would open the files on sexual abuse by church employees and turn them over to police, and demand that bishops in every diocese do the same,” she says. “He would fire all perpetrators and defrock them. If he wanted to protect children he would punish bishops who knowingly transfer an accused priest and he would reward whistleblowers. He would also expose the identities and whereabouts of all credibly accused perpetrators.”


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.