Dir: Alex Gibney
The Film: As an avid watcher of documentary cinema, I can safely say I have seen a lot of shocking and terrible things. I am not sure any of the documentaries I have seen this year have left me crying, depressed, angry and had me needing some serious alone time to get myself together – except this one. MEA MAXIMA CULPA is as shocking of a documentary or film for that matter as they come, because the story being told is truly evil and worst of all the Catholic Church are the villains of the story, and this is all true.
The story we are being told here, through the silent voices of deaf men, who as children attended a school for the deaf, where they were victims of sexual abuse from one Father Murphy. These men tell their story, what happened, the trauma they have suffered and the fight to have their stories heard. Their stories are cut with archival stuff, and Father Murphy as we find out has been under the protection of the Church, they knew what he was doing and simply moved him and tried to silence the situation.
This sadly may come as no surprise to many people, paedophile Priests is something all too common in the news. But the extreme ways these cases get covered up and the abusers suffer no consequences may surprise some and indeed likely make you feel sick. The cover up of the abusers goes as far up as it can go within the Church, these men do not get punished, nothing is done to stop them and they even more up in the ranks of the Church. A film like this (and DELIVER US FROM EVIL by Amy Berg) are so important because they expose the horrendous practises of the Church, and they give a voice to the voiceless who have suffered.
The practise that Father Murphy and others we hear about were calculated, he and they picked their victims carefully, ones that could not speak up or had very poor home lives. This lessened the risk of anything being said and made them perhaps easier prey. Even when these events were told to another Priest, nothing was done, the cries for help went unanswered. At this point, I was sick, I was crying and it only got worse. Priests get moved around, only to do it again, and placing them in special places to get over their compulsions do nothing. The higher ups in the Church want to protect their own rather than protect the children. The investigation into all of this is compelling and shocking, it is evident a change really needs to be made and instead of protecting the guilty, the innocent victims need the protecting and those guilty need to be punished for their crimes.
It is perhaps no real coincidence that one of the people mentioned in this film, someone who received every complaint about abuse ended up doing nothing was Pope Benedict XVI (before he became the Pontif). When he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger he wanted to receive all the claims of Priests sexually abusing children, and you get to hear about how he handled things (not very well). Was he to blame, did he want to do something? He was covering up the scandals, did Pope John Paul II make him cover them up? The film was first released very close to his resignation, and I personally believe his actions with these claims are a big reason for that. If someone in his former position did nothing, what hope is there? Perhaps now these stories are coming out, something can he done.
Please be aware, this is a very difficult film to sit through, it is a very emotional film and one that will bring on anger. It is important for audiences to see this film, and gain a stronger understanding of the crimes the Church has committed and we should speak out. Change is needed and maybe we can get it, the victims of crimes deserve nothing less.
The Australian DVD
Audio/Video: The video is presented in 16:9 widescreen, audio is Dolby 5.1
The video and audio here is excellent, this is an exceptional transfer and I found it to be very clear and easy to hear.
* Tony Jones interview with director Alex Gibney from ABC1’s Lateline.
I really could listen to Alex Gibney talk all day long, he’s absolutely fascinating. Having included at least an interview with the DVD is really good and I would recommend giving this a watch after the film.
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.