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 matthew greenberg on February 6, 2013 at 10:05am

i suppose i was stating the obvious.  and frankly i answered the wrong question.  you asked why we let them get away with it.  my bad.  i don't have an answer for that one.  IMO, it's up to the Catholics themselves to hold their leaders accountable, either by asking hard questions or leaving the church.  that's what they've done in Ireland, where some 70% of Catholics have left the church.

Comment by Loren Miller on February 6, 2013 at 6:35am

C'mon, Matthew ... it's not as though any of us here don't know the answer to this one.  Preservation of power, of position, of influence, the whole schmeer.

Except that I'm not convinced that the whole catholic scam is a house of cards at all.  If it were, it should have fallen long before now.  It doesn't fall at least in part because of the insecurity of the sheep following the shepherd.  Too many of them aren't ready to learn the secret handshake, can't deal with the truth, aren't prepared to handle a reality where there is no magic, no afterlife, no ultimate justice and no god.

And this is why we have to continue to hammer away at the RC church and the others the way those kids were banging on the Berlin Wall with sledgehammers so long ago.  Even as the communists had built a fortress, so have Joe the Rat and company.  Another reason why we cannot back down ... ever.

Comment by matthew greenberg on February 5, 2013 at 8:58pm

"Why?  Why, why, WHY Do We Still Let These Fuckers Get Away With This?!?"

preservation of power, it's as simple as that.  to admit that priests aren't nearly so close to their God as parishioners believe them to be would be pulling the wool off from their eyes.  the whole catholic belief system is a house of cards.  they are nearly a fundamentalist/orthodox religion.  that works fine for small isolated groups, but a church as diverse (geographically, ethnically, and culturally) and large as the catholic church cannot survive if it's constituents doubt the veracity of it's leaders.  and admitting that a substantial amount of priests were disgusting pedophiles would hurt the church.  to them, the ends justify the means.  they couldn't let thousands of years of tradition wane b/c a handful of their leaders screwed up.  there is too much power and too much money at stake.  just like Penn State with Sandusky.  

btw, i started watching this tonight.  i'm horrified already and i'm only 20 minutes in.  

Comment by Loren Miller on February 5, 2013 at 8:42pm

In the midst of all of this, one question, which I have already answered for myself, more or less, still hangs in my head:

Why?  Why, why, WHY Do We Still Let These Fuckers Get Away With This?!?

Comment by Pat on February 5, 2013 at 7:44pm

Have it recorded and will watch it later this week. I, too, remember seeing Gibney on Real Time, which is why I recorded it. And while I will watch it, I'm looking forward to it about as much as a documentary on the Holocaust, or the videos of Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem. There is a certain amount of evil between the two to equate.

Comment by John Aultman on February 5, 2013 at 7:25pm

The wife and I just watched it.  I don't think I could have confronted Murphy the way the one victim did and not beat the bastard to death.

Comment by matthew greenberg on February 5, 2013 at 7:17pm

btw, how is it possible to have Sam Harris on and not discuss religion or lack thereof?  i don't want to hijack your post but that seems almost impossible.  is Harris known for anything else that makes him worthy of being on Real Time?

Comment by matthew greenberg on February 5, 2013 at 7:14pm

well said John, hahaha!

Comment by Loren Miller on February 5, 2013 at 2:46pm

Just pulled it up on HBO On Demand - turns out I DID see it, remember all of it, but a couple days later, it didn't fully register.  Bloody lovely.

Comment by matthew greenberg on February 5, 2013 at 1:19pm

you must have!

http://www.imdb.com/news/ni45970994/

Bill Maher is back Friday night to discuss the week's hottest stories and dissect the headlines. His guests include Alex Gibney, Eva Longoria and Cory Booker. Real Time with Bill Maher continues its 11th season Friday, Feb. 1 (10:00-11:00 p.m. live Et/tape-delayed Pt), exclusively on HBO, with an instant replay at 11:00 p.m. following the live presentation. This fluid salon type format gives Maher a fresh delivery on his perspective of contemporary issues. The show includes an opening monologue, roundtable discussions with panelists, and interviewswith in-studio and satellite guests. February 1 sees these guests: Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (HBO.s .Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.) is the top-of-show interview guest. Author Sam Harris is the mid-show »

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