REVIEW: Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2013)

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There is no God; or rather there couldn’t be after you’ve been enlightened by the horrific, blood boiling reality of Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.

This HBO produced documentary plots the timeline of the sickening revelation of the Catholic Church’s systemic paedophilia and the Vatican’s (and especially Cardinal Ratzinger’s [soon to be former Pope Benedict the 16th]) direct involvement in sheltering the perpetrators from criminal charges, and thus enabling them to continue to abuse innocent children.

Documentarian Alex Gibney (director of the Oscar winning Taxi to the Dark Side [2007]and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room [2005]) begins in Wisconsin, with several former students of a school for the hearing impaired. We’re recounted the horrendous predatory perversions of Father Murphy that irrevocably changed the lives of these innocent deaf students. This abhorrent excuse for a human was so maniacal that he not only preyed upon disabled children, but he specifically targeted those whose parents couldn’t ‘sign,’ and therefore couldn’t communicate directly with their children. Once they were of age however they became the pebble dropped into a pond that triggered a cataclysmic tsunami for an institution rotten to the core with tainted people.  Using a combination of interviews, ominous recreations, scanned documents and archival footage, Gibney uncovers the Vatican’s awareness of paedophilia rife within their ranks as early as the 1800s. The universal look the other way tactics of the Church’s inner hierarchy that systematically ensured the protection and redistribution of paedophiles throughout the Catholic world.  The participants of the interviews range from the legal teams to former priests with first hand accounts of the hypocrisy. A subtle masterstroke from Gibney is to use some excellent actors to provide the essentially mute protagonists with unique and mellifluous voices – try and see if you can pick them.

It’s a prescient subject on the precipice of the Pope’s resignation, especially considering that he’s navigating ways to remain immune from the mass prosecution of sheltering known sexual abusers.

It’s not one documentary that you’d care to endure on repeat viewings but it’s a necessary investigation into the paedophilic petri dish that the Catholic Church allowed itself to become. 

and a half

Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here.