Director Alex Gibney
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, a HBO special on child sexual abuse cover-ups within the Catholic Church.
This documentary was well over due! I’ve always heard rumors of sexual abuse of boys within the Catholic Church and not being a Catholic, made it hard for me to get further details about the “abuse scandals”.
This documentary details sexual abuse in the Catholic church. It starts off with the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, who is believed to have molested as many as 200 boys at the St. John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wisconsin in the 1950’s. The Vatican was made aware of the priest’s actions in 1963, he was never defrocked and, was even allowed to remain at the school until 1974. Mea Maxima Culpa, which translates to “My Most Grievous Fault,” I just learned. The documentary scrutinizes the roles that the late Pope John Paul II and his successor Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) played in awful abuse tragedies. It includes videos of some of the abuse victims. One victim in particular faced his abuser and told him “he should kill himself and burn in hell” for abusing them. The scene was too real! The victim was deaf but his emotions were very clear while signing.
The perpetrator responded by say “I know, I know it was a long time ago”! So it’s very clear this was no lie. In that very scene the victim was approached by an older female who was there during the confrontation. She asked the abused victim “Are you a catholic”, you’re supposed to be catholic! You’re supposed to forgive him! The victim continued with his message, even to her. He was wrong and he should burn in hell for what he did!
But the issue is not a matter of religion, these were crimes committed, and the church was very much aware of them. It was their moral duty to report him, have him prosecuted and jailed, rather than allowing him continued access to more children. Over 200 boys is more than enough evidence to render a verdict.
This documentary is one that everyone should watch. Catholic or not, I think Catholics especially need to watch it because it can give better insight on a serious issue. Some may have a son, nephew, or brother even, who could’ve been a victim or witness. The children in the situation should be the focus of the conversation and not the religion. I only say that because often times we lose sight on the real issue.
Reality is, people don’t like to point out the bad characteristics of their priest, pastors and etc. This is the results of not being honest and being silent. “SILENCE CAN BE PAINFUL” – a quote from my book I published October 2012. I say that because I experienced abuse and it was covered up. Something that our world is to familiar with. Abuse cover-ups are usually associated with families and churches believe it or not.
Of course we know why! No one wants to be associated with anything that’s deemed wrong or inappropriate. But sexual abuse is not just wrong and its far from inappropriate, I refer to it as “Life-Changing” and for child victims, it shapes their lives. Maybe only a survivor or therapist would understand.
Just a side note: I think this will be a SVU episode! It may even make it more interesting to others…
So should religion be put above child abuse and should we all stay silent and just forgive the perpetrators?
The special is showing on HBO, HBO On Demand and HBO Go.