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Vatican lauds 'Spotlight' for giving voice to abuse victims

The film tells the story of how the 'Boston Globe' uncovered a child molestation scandal in the archdiocese.

A general view of St Peter’s basilica in the Vatican City. Picture: AFP.

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican newspaper on Monday lauded the film Spotlight, which took home this year's Oscar for best picture, for giving voice to the pain of the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy.

The film tells the story of how the Boston Globe uncovered a massive scandal of child molestation in the city's archdiocese.

The Osservatore Romano said the film did not take a hostile position against the Church.

It gives "a voice to the shock and profound pain of the faithful who confront the discovery of this horrible reality", said an opinion piece by columnist Lucetta Scaraffia.

"It's by now clear that in the Church too many were worried about the image of the institution and not the gravity of the act."

During his brief acceptance speech on Sunday, Spotlight producer Michael Sugar said he hoped the voices of the victims portrayed would "become a choir that would resonate all the way to the Vatican" and called on Pope Francis to protect children.

Scaraffia's piece called Sugar's comments "positive", adding that they showed that "there's still faith in the institution, there's trust in a pope who is continuing the clean-up begun by his predecessor while he was still a cardinal".

A second article, a news roundup of the Oscars, said the film had "the courage to denounce cases that must be condemned without any hesitation".

Since the Boston Globe's 2002 expose that showed abusive priests were being moved from one parish to another instead of being defrocked, similar scandals have been discovered around the world and tens of millions of dollars have been paid in compensation.

The Oscar award came as the highest-ranking Vatican official to testify about Catholic Church abuse addressed Australia's Royal Commission investigating abuse of children there.

"The Church has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those, but the Church in many places, certainly in Australia, has mucked things up, has let people down," Australian Cardinal George Pell said via video link from Rome to Sydney on Sunday.

"I'm not here to defend the indefensible."

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