Spotlight: Catholic Church Scandal


The Boston’s Globe Pulitzer wining investigative piece depicted in the movie Spotlight is considered the threshold that triggered the people to take serious actions against the illegal and unethical acts of some priests in the Catholic Church. The reveal of the hidden truth about children being molested by priests have encouraged and motivated many victims to report their traumatic experience as well. People were hesitated to report at the beginning because it is against the Church, which is usually the master narrative for people, especially in the West.

When the Spotlight team, lead by Sasha and Robbie went to the school president and faculty to investigate about the rumor that the school priests are sexually abusing the children, it is one of the major scenes that portrays master narrative engagement. As reporters were somehow taking the side of the victims, and the school representatives were denying it and trying to protect its faculty. It is considered a master narrative engagement because considering the Church as one side and the journalists’ team as another side, each believes in their point of view and they construct the reality on what they see is right. Thus, the perception of the people on the church as the master narrative that is responsible for revealing the truth is sort of doubted, and an alternative narrative is out into consideration as starting to suspect the Church’s reliability.

According to the four factors that should be questioned in regarding whether the individual trauma, of a child being molested by a priest is affecting the collective group, people starting to doubt the Church status, there are certain questions that need to be put into consideration. Victims of the given incident have experienced trauma in its worst shapes, especially for children who don’t understand what they are going through and have mixed emotions and behaviors that they can’t express. Also, the people surrounding them, their families and relatives mainly are affected by what happened to their children and what might happen to others as well, causing a cultural trauma as some of them became dependent on alcohol to escape the reality that is describing the “Nature of the pain”.

Another element is identifying the “Nature of the victim”: it wasn’t only the group of victims who are affected by the traumatic experience of the abused children. The society as a whole was affected. It is the same case when a therapist get secondary traumatized when he/she hears the story of the client during the therapy. People in the streets as well were traumatized form what they heard about the Church, even if they did not believe it was true. It was still a shock for them to hear something unethical and inhumane about the Church. Consequently, people were able to identify what happened to the children with their own lives; proves the existence of a strong “relation between the victim and the audience” who were being told the story by the Spotlight team. The Spotlight team has accounted the Church primarily in its investigative piece for the illegal behaviors carried on the children. It makes the audience as well believe that the Catholic Church system is to be punished or steps taken against it from what caused the society a trauma that is “ Attribution of responsibility”.


It seems that the spiral of signification in the movie, is the claim that the Spotlight team made about the Church priests’ sexually abusing the children. The carrier group in this case is the Spotlight investigative team that delivers the truth to the audiences. Indeed, in the movie, there is major speech incoherence that is displayed in the scene in which is master narrative as well. When Joey was storytelling his story to the priest, it is considered a social incoherence then as the priests are considered corrupt as well and doing unreligious behaviors, which is not coherent with the inner speech of the priest as his role to convince people that homosexuality is not loved by God.

Video: Abuse Documentary: The Shame of the Catholic Church/ Retro Report/ The New York Times:


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