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Spotlight

Spotlight (2015) is a movie about the investigative team at the Boston Globe that broke the story about the decades-long, systemic sexual abuse of children at the hands of Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area. In this scene, the spotlight team is speaking with Richard Sipe, a sociologist, psychologist, and former priest who did extensive research on the problems caused by the celibacy requirement of the Catholic priesthood. He tells the team that only 50% of Catholic priests are actually celibate, and while most priests are having sex with other adults, 6% of all priests have engaged in sexual activity with children. Furthermore, he tells the team that the American Catholic church has been aware of this issue since 1985. When the team says that they have found 13 priests in the Boston area that fit a pattern of sexual abuse, Sipe tells them that that is a low estimate– that with the 1500 priests in the Boston diocese, there should be closer to 90. After the call, journalists Michael Rezendes and Walter Robinson tell editor Ben Bradlee of the extent of the problem. Bradlee expresses shock that there could be that many abusive priests without it having come to light, and Rezendes suggests that maybe people know but are keeping quiet.  

discussion

What does Richard Sipe say is at the root of the sexual abuse problem?

Why is it so shocking to the Boston Globe team that so many priests might be abusing children?

At the end of the clip, Michael Rezendes uses the phrase “good Germans” to explain why the extent of the abuse has remained under wraps. What does he mean by this?

What does this clip tell us about the connection between secrecy, power, and abuse?