Over the past week, I’ve been watching an HBO documentary called Mea Maxima Culpa in increments. I finished it this evening. The film concentrates on the United States’ first-known public acknowledgement of abuse in the Catholic Church - Father Murphy, a Milwaukee priest, abused over 200 children attending a school for the deaf from the years 1950 – 1974 (before being removed and assigned to work with children in other parishes). It follows the chronology of four of the victims, now grown men, who tirelessly pursued their abuser despite the roadblocks put up by both the legal system, due to statute of limitations and the Catholic Church’s inactions and cover-ups. Their case took upwards of 30 years to settle. The documentary also highlighted some of the other widespread cases during that span of time, primarily those in Ireland and Italy as well as all of these cases pointing to the cover-ups by the church. They worked their way up the Catholic food chain, ultimately landing on the desk of the current pope.
Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement last Monday. What a shame that he gets to live the last years of his life in a comfortable apartment without having to be held accountable for his overarching cover-up of abuse.
Funnily enough, this film came out just 5 days after retired Los Angeles Archbishop Cardinal Mahoney was stripped of his remaining duties (although still a priest in good standing) due to his wide-spread cover-up of abuse committed by priests. Even after being mired in all of this, Mahoney is going to the Vatican at the end of the month to participate in the conclave that will choose the next pope.
Having removed myself from organized religion years ago due to its rigidity and stance on so many things, this stance is probably the most appalling, sickening. Upon the news reporting to the public of each case, as they unfolded over time, it was bad enough. Being reminded of them, one after another in the 2 hour film illustrated, more than ever, the magnitude of the secrecy. It’s hard to believe there are still members on all levels of the church that take the stance that there was no wrongdoing. I read a couple of reviews of Mea Maxima Culpa that were so scathing and so unapologetic. I don’t know how a sincere apology isn’t the first words out of their mouths, every single time.