Film Friday: Spotlight

When the Spotlight team at The Boston Globe newspaper go looking for a new story, they are steered towards a case of abuse in the church. As they follow the trail and ask questions they begin to uncover a much bigger story of exploitation and corruption in the city. They decide to go after the whole system which is doing the covering up, and as they gather more information, one of the team, Mike Rezendes, feels they should go to print sooner rather than later.

The team discovers that there are perhaps as many as 90 priests in Boston who have been involved in abuse, and it becomes apparent that not only the church, but others in the city have been involved in covering up the stories.

This is a terrible, tragic story of damaged lives and misused power. One that brought deep shock when it came to light. The church, a place intended to be about forgiveness, hope and good news, was shown to be the very opposite.

When it began things were very different. Jesus looked at his bunch of fledgling followers and promised them that they would be the beginning of something new. A fresh way forward with God. Jesus assured his friend Peter that he would be the foundation stone for a new kind of building; a body of people, rather than an establishment seeking to defend its influence, wealth and corridors of power. Instead, a living breathing human temple, shot through with humility and integrity, not corruption and money. Those in need would be able to find a new start. Back then it was the Roman Empire that was steeped in lust and corruption, the church was different. The church was a place of sincerity and hope.

The church was never intended to be a powerful vehicle, when it began it was full of the downtrodden, the outsiders, those who were blessed according to Jesus’s Beatitudes. The meek, the hungry and thirsty, the poor and poor in spirit, the persecuted, the merciful and the peacemakers… this was the church. They had discovered God was with them in Jesus, on their side, and now they had been invited to start something new. On the Day of Pentecost the thing exploded, and went global as travellers discovered the goodness of God and took it back home with them. This is still the case in much of the church today, there are about 2 billion Christians in the world, and most are not powerful at all. They are the poor and marginalised, the hurting and unpopular. They have found that the Man of Sorrows still cares, still reaches out to them, still offers purpose and hope. After Jesus had spoken about those who were blessed he talked about those who were cursed, those who would struggle to find God. It included the rich, the popular, the powerful. These folks would find it harder, their privileges could prove to be a ‘curse’, a dysfunctional road map. These things would blur vision and lead people astray. Jesus was not against these folks, he just understood that wealth, power and privilege can corrupt people, and keep them from truth, compassion and justice. And it’s always his desire to lead people towards light, kindness and hope, not away from it.

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