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Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney exposes the abuse of power in the Catholic Church and a cover-up that winds its way from the row houses of Milwaukee Wisconsin, through the bare ruined choirs of Ireland's churches all the way to the highest office of the Vatican. By investigating the secret crimes of a charismatic priest who abused over 200 deaf children in a school under his control - the film shows the face of evil that lurks behind the smiles and denials of authority figures and institutions who believe that because they stand for good they can do no wrong.Written by
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You may just find yourself yelling at your TV as you watch this one!!
One of the reasons I watched this documentary is that I have a deaf daughter who herself attended a Catholic deaf school for a few years. The other is that I am an ex-therapist who used to work with sexual abuse victims and perpetrators (the latter, I came to realize are beyond the scope of therapy--hence my biggest reason for retiring from the field). Sadly, however, I cannot show this documentary to my daughter, as the folks didn't bother captioning the film--only what's being signed by the deaf folks being interviewed! This is ridiculous--how can they make a video that many of the victims cannot even watch and understand?! Crazy--and I can't think of a worse film to do without captions. Despite this HUGE problem, I still recommend the film to everyone--and perhaps deaf people could hopefully have an interpreter translate the film, though this is very unlikely. For this reason, the film loses a point.
"Mea Maxima Culpa" is a film that begins with a deaf school. During the tenure of a piece of human garbage (otherwise known as 'Father Murphy') at the school, he repeatedly sexually abused the kids. Not only did he victimize the most vulnerable population, within this group he targeted the most vulnerable--those deaf kids whose parents did not use sign language and/or had strained relationships. The saddest part of the film is NOT that the kids were abused by Murphy but the abuse by the Church--which repeatedly did everything it could to prevent Murphy and other pedophiles from being punished in any way. And, surprisingly, in this and so many other cases, the victims were threatened with excommunication if they came public*!! It's enough to make you want to toss something at your television and I found myself yelling at the film several times! In addition to the Murphy case, the film discusses a few other international cases (such as in Ireland, Italy and Latin America). And, it spends much of the time discussing the actions by John Paul and Benedict that impeded investigations and kept pedophiles in close contact with children.
Overall, this is a very well done documentary (aside from the captioning) and very, very compelling. It's hard to imagine anyone watching this without becoming energized--and that's a good sign of a documentary.
*In one case, the Church had a deaf adult sign a statement saying HE was sinful and was repenting for damaging the Catholic Church by 'lying' about the molestations. Many deaf adults are illiterate or nearly illiterate, so the notion that he had no idea what he was singing was very likely based on my experiences in the deaf community--plus they had no interpreter there during the meeting where he was asked to sign! Doing such a thing is further reason I found myself yelling out loud during the film. For shame!!
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