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Monday, April 8, 2013
Review: Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (Alex Gibney, 2012)
Alex Gibney, the Academy Award winning director of Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), has returned with another hell-fire of controversy documentary in Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, a revelatory and deeply upsetting probe into shocking accounts of unpunished (and ignored) child sexual abuse and a damningly potent indictment of the Catholic Church’s cover-up.
The chief target is Father Lawrence Murphy, claimed to have sexually abused about 200 young deaf boys – and specifically ones who could not communicate with their parents via American Sign Language – at a Milwaukee school for the hearing impaired dating back to the 1950s. But Gibney also sets in motion an expose on the highest orders of the Vatican, including the recently retired Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict 16th) who, before taking on the role as the Bishop of Rome, was assigned sole chief investigative power over cases of suspected pedophilia. Ratzinger’s lack of action was influenced by a century-spanning stipulation by the Vatican that known cases of pedophilia be quieted and taken care of internally. This involved relocation of the priest, psychological treatment, even proposed secluded island ostracism. Any perpetrators were to be protected from criminal charges. Any victims who desired justice were bought out.