Oscars: 'Spotlight' Award Speech Drives Work of Pope's Anti-Abuse Commission

"A film like this, and even the words said at the awards ceremony, will certainly give a further impetus to our work," said church leader Father Hans Zollner.

In accepting the Oscar for best picture at the 88th Academy Awards, Spotlight producer Michael Sugar called on the leader of the Catholic Church to take further action in ensuring that abuse stops within the Church.

"This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican," he said. "Pope Francis, it's time to protect the children and restore the faith."

A spokesman for the Vatican declined to officially comment on the award but alerted journalists to favorable commentaries released today in L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, which praised the film as a voice for victims, and a new interview on Vatican Radio.

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, spoke with Vatican Radio about how the commission had commenced with a special screening of the Oscar winning film.

“These bishops recommended their brothers to see the movie, so it’s a strong invitation to reflect and to take seriously the central message, namely, that the Catholic Church can and must be transparent, fair, and committed to the fight against abuse and so that this never happens again,” he said.

“It is important to understand that we must change our attitude, which in Italian can be expressed in the famous word omerta. No talking, solving everything by sweeping it under the rug, hiding it, and thinking that everything will pass,” continued Zollner.

“We must understand that it will not: We must realize that we either think about this with a lot of courage and the ability to deal with things up front until the end, or one day, sooner or later, we will be obliged to do so. And this I think is one of the central messages of this film,” he said. “So a film like this and even the words said at the awards ceremony will certainly give a further impetus to our work.”

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors met for a week in February in Rome to discuss how the church could further work to protect minors against abuse within the church. But it drew heat when one of its most vocal members, Peter Saudners, himself a victim of abuse, was asked to take a leave of absence from the commission.