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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Tags: HBO, catholic church, child abuse, documentary

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Comment by Loren Miller on February 5, 2013 at 1:16pm

Wow, that's news to me, Matthew, and I watch Real Time every Friday night.  Don't THINK I slept through it!

Comment by matthew greenberg on February 5, 2013 at 1:00pm

Mr. Gibney was on Real Time this past Friday.  i'm looking forward, i think, to watching it. 

Comment by Sentient Biped on February 5, 2013 at 11:20am

As someone who occasionally delves into the bible, here's what I think Jesus would say about the Catholic Conspiracy Church:

Matthew 7:15-23

New King James Version (NKJV)

You Will Know Them by Their Fruits

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Whenever I quote the bible I feel like I have to bathe in bleach.  But the book is one of the most important weapons against religious hypocrisy and demagoguery.

Comment by Loren Miller on February 5, 2013 at 8:09am

It may be the ultimate model of the Old Boys' Club, Future.  The priesthood is IN - permanently - and everyone else is beneath their notice.

I have said this multiple times before: if this were Any Other Organization, the local authorities would be all over them like white on rice.  The perpetrators and collaborators would be arrested, tried, and thrown in the hoosegow.  Their properties would be seized and used to settle civil suits, and the organization itself would gain such a tainted reputation that no one would want to be associated with them.  Yet so far, the RC church maintains their Teflon coating.

I am sincerely hoping that documentaries like Mea Maxima Culpa and others can put more than a few scratches and dents in that coating and make something STICK.

Comment by Future on February 5, 2013 at 8:00am

I saw the announcement for this documentary the other day, and have been looking forward to watching it.  I think one of the biggest indicators of insincerity from the RCC is the fact that excommunication for the offenders seems to be a concept that is simply off the table.  Yes, they will turn over information when pressured sufficiently to do so, and they will pay big cash settlements to victims when they must do so, and the Pope may apologize to some victims - but the one thing that would be completely voluntary and thus show some level of sincerity, would be to kick these lowlife scumbags out of their club.  To my knowledge, not a single priest or religious administrator in the RCC has ever been excommunicated for their involvement in child abuse or enabling of child abuse by their staff.  Meanwhile, excommunications occur on a regular basis for things like being involved with an abortion, even when the abortion was neccessary to save the life of a child who was raped by their parent.  This speaks volumes about the true attitude of the RCC when it comes to admission of guilt or impropriety.

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