Renowned Roman Catholic priest Robert Sirico underlined Hollywood’s blatant hypocrisy this week, hammering the film industry for celebrating Best Picture winner Spotlight at the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday, while refusing to disavow convicted child rapist Roman Polanski.
Spotlight — which stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Liev Schreiber — chronicles The Boston Globe’s investigation into rampant child sex abuse inside the Catholic Church and efforts to sweep the crimes under the rug in 2003.
In a surprise win, the film took home this year’s Best Picture Oscar on Sunday.
During a conversation with a TMZ film crew on Wednesday, Sirico was asked about the film and whether the Catholic Church had “mixed feelings” about its big victory in secular Hollywood.
While Sirico agreed the film “underscores the great shame” of the chapter in the Church’s history, he hammered the industry for standing by confessed child sex abuser Polanski.
“What is lamentable to me, particularly in the kind of celebration over this … is that it [Spotlight] covers a scandal that took place in the very year that the Academy … itself awarded an award to Roman Polanski, who is a child molester,” said the priest and commentator. He added:
There is just this contradiction … the church needs to, and I think has done many things to repent, of the heinous crime of child abuse. I wonder if the rest of our society, particularly Hollywood and the school system, and many other secular institutions would follow along.
Watch the video:
As Sirico rightly points out, numerous high-ranking Hollywood figures, including Harvey Weinstein, Martin Scorsese, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and accused child molester director Woody Allen, have embraced Polanski, who fled the United States for Europe in 1978 as he awaited sentencing for drugging and raping 13-year-old Samantha Geimer.
Polanski served only 42 days in a California jail after pleading guilty to abusing the 13-year-old at the Los Angeles home of actor Jack Nicholson in 1977.
The international fugitive later won a Best Director award for for his Holocaust drama The Pianist at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003, the same year Spotlight is set.
Fortunately for convicted child rapist Polanski, actor Harrison Ford was there to assist the Academy in accepting the award on his behalf.
Watch a clip of the ceremony below:
After Polanski, now 82, was arrested and detained in Switzerland in 2009, more than 100 film titans, actors, and producers signed a petition demanding his release.
He was eventually released, and numerous efforts to have him extradited to the United States for sentencing have failed.