Monday, 1 February 2016

Spotlight (4 Stars)

This is doubtlessly one of the best films of 2015. It has been nominated for six Oscars, including the Best Film. However, it's difficult for me to rate. The problem is that it's not a very uplifting film. It's a story about a depressing topic, and the film's conclusion isn't completely satisfying in itself.

The film is a true story about a team of journalists in Boston from 2011 to 2012. After there were a few minor news reports, easy to overlook among the big news, that a Catholic priest had been found guilty of abusing young children, the team decides to investigate whether there could be a large scale cover up of similar incidents by the Church. What begins as a local investigation (within Boston) unfolds into a national and international drama.

It's easy to dismiss the priests as paedophiles. I don't consider that to be fair on the men concerned. The problem is with the system itself. The Catholic Church requires priests to be celibate. Celibacy is a very unnatural state for a man. If a man is forbidden to have natural sexual relations with a woman he's in danger of falling into temptation elsewhere.

Why does the Catholic Church require celibacy from its priests? This rule was obviously started by someone who didn't know the Bible well. In the first letter to Timothy we read:

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach" (1. Tim 3:2).

"Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well" (1. Tim 3:12).

The words translated "bishop" and "deacon" don't refer to the Church ranks that we know today. Some newer translations use the words "overseer" and "elder". Either one of them could correspond to a modern day priest. Nevertheless, the Bible commands that those in charge of Christian churches should be married. It doesn't just say that they are allowed to get married, it says that only those who are already married are eligible to take on the position.

Some of my friends think I'm anti-religion. That's not true. I'm very pro-religion, if the way the religion is conducted leads to good results. When I lived in Small Heath my next door neighbour came home smiling happily every Sunday when she returned from the Catholic Church. That's a good thing. I feel the same way after going to a heavy metal concert. Who am I to say that I'm right and she's wrong?

I'm not anti-religion, but if a religion leads to bad results it's a bad religion, at least in part. The Catholic Church would have less child abuse if every priest on Earth were married. The church should obey what the Bible says. Every unmarried priest is a bad priest. Every unmarried bishop is a bad bishop. Every unmarried pope is a bad pope.

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