Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

I have just finished watching a wonderfully done yet singularly disturbing piece: the HBO documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.  In it, writer/director Alex Gibney exposes the depravity of the catholic church regarding sexual child abuse by priests, particularly but not exclusively in its defense of one Father Lawrence Murphy, who had a two-decade history of such abuse at the St. John’s School for Deaf Children near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

There is no way I can convey in a few words the level of horror represented by what Fr. Murphy and literally thousands of other priests are documented to have committed against children, as reported by this film.  Watching it has made me unspeakably angry, though I doubt anywhere near so much as those who attempted to gain a response from the hierarchy of the RC church to their abuse, to the failure of both church and civil authorities to respond initially to that abuse, and to the incomprehensible fact that this is a problem not years or decades old, but, indeed, centuries.  Worse, this is a problem which is well-known to the current vicar of Christ, Joseph Ratzinger, himself, as he personally directed during his tenure as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that all cases of priest child abuse were to be vectored through his office.  He MUST know what has been going on as regards this perfidy and know it in detail … yet he fails to be in any way forthcoming with that knowledge.

As upsetting and dislocating as this documentary is, I must recommend it, strongly and fervently.  If you have access to HBO, watch it.  If not, find someone who can record it for you and see it that way.  And get angry, get very, very goddamned angry … because this business demands anger.

And it demands action.

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  • Loren Miller

    Yeah, his days are numbered ... and whatever time he has remaining will go to prayer and meditation and all that happy hasenpfeffer when it SHOULD be spent doing the same thing ... BEHIND BARS.

    Meantime, like Christopher Hitchens once said, I await the day when the state of tempe sede vacante, which will obtain when Bennie the Dick abdicates, becomes PERMANENT.

  • Kelly M

    I was completely disturbed by this film as well! What's going on in the Catholic church is what has been going on for centuries and is a prime example of the fact that religion not promoting the well being of its followers, but of itself....and at all costs. There has NEVER been a more clear case of how dangerous being educated and informed is to religion, and it shows in the steady decline of religion and in particular the catholic church. It has been happening in Europe for awhile now, and now in the US. On the other end, there has been a steady increase in 3rd world nations, where the people are uneducated and poor. I was raised catholic and there are progressive priests within the church who are pushing for major reforms, like birth control, women in the clergy and allowing priests to marry, however I can tell you, they are outcasts and one I have known for YEARS, is on the verge of being excommunicated for his views.  At any rate this was a VERY GOOD film!  

    Loren, do you find it a bit strange that the pope decided to retire the very month this film aired on HBO and outed him for his utter failure to act on ANY of these issues presented to him??  I particularly found the statements the pope made about this issue only showed concern for the priests and not once acknowledging concern for the victims involved in this abomination! It should outrage EVERY PARENT ON THIS PLANET THAT LOVES THEIR CHILDREN!!!!!!  

  • Loren Miller

    Honestly, Kelly, I'd be dubious that there is a connection between the release of Mea Maxima Culpa and Joe the Rat's abdication.  I DO think that all the pressure that is coming to bear on the RCC regarding the increasing number of reported cases of child abuse by priests IS weighing on him and has ever since he was elected pontiff.

    The sad fact is that Vatican City is in desperate need of a top-to-bottom housecleaning, yet it's extremely unlikely that it will get it.  The next pope will likely carry on the same way that JPII and Bennie the Dick did ... until and unless pressure is brought to force them to do otherwise.

    People have to be shaken out of their indifference and naivete.  The supposed sanctity and inherent goodness of the church and its representatives needs to be disposed of.  Most of all, the catholic church needs to be held as accountable for their actions as any other organization, guilty of similar transgressions, would be held.  There is NO REASON why they should be exempt from being subject to the rule of law, other than people's own hesitance to pursue justice against them.

    Tall order, I know, but there it is.