"Spotlight," the movie about the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of Catholic priest sex abuse of children, won Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday night, with producer Michael Sugar calling on Pope Francis to focus the Vatican's efforts on protecting children.
"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," Sugar said onstage, alongside cast and crew of the movie. "Pope Francis, it is time to protect the children and restore the faith."
The drama showcases the widespread pattern of abuse and cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston, which shook the Catholic Church in America and led to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law in December 2003.
Deadline reported that McCarthy, alongside actor Mark Ruffalo and co-writer Josh Singer, raised more awareness for the issue when they joined a protest outside L.A.'s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels before the Oscar ceremony, demanding the public release of the names of pedophile members of clergy.
Vatican Radio, which is the Vatican's official radio outlet, has in the past praised the movie for being "honest" and "compelling."
Crux reported in October that the Vatican outlet has praised the Globe's reporting that led to the uncovering of sex abuse, which it said helped the Church in the United States "to accept fully the sin, to admit it publicly, and to pay all the consequences."
American Catholic bishops have also said that the movie can play an important role in helping the Church face up to the wrongdoings of the past.
"I can tell you unequivocally that anything that raises awareness of the crime of sexual abuse of minors and encourages transparency is a good thing," Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York said in November. "I certainly hope 'Spotlight' will be a vehicle to communicate the truth and advance the dialogue regarding the protection of children."
While Pope Francis has not spoken out on the movie himself, he has often talked about ongoing efforts in the Catholic Church to address the sex abuse controversy.
He met with victims who were sexually abused by Catholic clergy on separate occasions, including on the last day of his visit to the United States in September.
"This disgrace keeps burdening me, that the people who had the responsibility of caring for these tender ones raped them and caused them great pain," Francis told bishops in Philadelphia at the time. "God weeps for the sexual abuse of children."
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a statement on Sunday that children are the real winners at the Academy Awards.
"Of course, sadly, it takes much more than public awareness to stop those who commit and conceal child sex crimes," SNAP wrote.
"But exposing hundreds of thousands of people across the planet to a compelling, reality-based film about this crisis — people who might otherwise not pick up a book, go hear a speech or search the Internet for information about abuse — is, in itself, an incredible achievement and a real, life-changing 'win' for countless children."