Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God February 9, 2013

If you haven’t seen the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, it’s an absolute must-see. Even as someone who has written about the Catholic Church and its long practice of protecting priests who abuse children, it’s still shocking how far back and how deep it goes. Here’s the trailer:


It’s airing on HBO this month. And what it reveals backs up my longstanding argument that many top Catholic officials, including Cardinal Law and the current pope, should be in prison. Instead, they live in opulence and impunity, kept safe from justice by the protection we wrongly give to religion. Anyone outside of a church who did what they did would be in prison as, at bare minimum, accessories after the fact.

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  • slc1

    Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley claimed that she couldn’t prosecute Cardinal Law because there was no criminal statute on being an accessory after the fact in Massachusetts.

  • Sastra

    Just a couple of days ago I watched the award-winning 2006 documentary Deliver Us From Evil, which focuses on the Los Angeles area. Pedophile priest Oliver O’Grady was of course shuffled around from parish to parish by a holy bureaucracy which promised angry parents, after every accusation, that the priest would never, ever work around children again. This film also traces the cover-up to the top.

    Watching it I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell it would take for my Catholic friends to quit the church. The same thing had actually happened in my own area — local priest discovered to have a history of child molestation. “Oh, he fooled the bishops and archbishops into thinking he had reformed. Could have happened to anyone!” Denial. Deep denial.

    Deliver Us From Evil is probably unique in that there are many interviews with the defrocked priest himself. He admits culpability and yet … minimizes it in strange ways. He sounds so soft-spoken, so thoughtful, so sensitive and apparently thinks of himself that way. Fools himself first: the secret to being a very good liar.

    Someone in the film made an interesting argument: one reason the Catholic Church is able to tolerate pedophilia in priests is because in their view sex for priests is wicked, period. It’s sin. Doesn’t matter whether it’s consensual or not, female or not, adult or child. Sin is sin is sin. And of course we all sin. These things happen.

    There is actually a Church doctrine in Latin which translates as “keeping up appearances.”

  • unbound

    I saw a snippet of it on HBO earlier this week, and it’s set to record today so I can watch.

    Cardinal Law was the final straw that pushed me over completely into Atheism, so it will be interesting to see how much I didn’t know about that has really always been there.

  • raven

    Watching it I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell it would take for my Catholic friends to quit the church.

    Actually, the RCC is losing huge numbers.

    In the last few years, they’ve lost 22 million people. AFAICT, none of my Catholic relatives go to Mass any more. One of ten US citizens is an ex-Catholic.

    The RCC doesn’t seem to care. They haven’t been able to get good priests for a long time and it is showing. Even the Bishops and Archbishops seem to be not very bright, twisted old men.

    Vancouver Sun Douglas Todd

    The Catholic church is losing huge numbers of members. If ex-Catholics were their own denomination, they would make up the third largest denomination in the United States, according to The National Catholic Reporter. Canadians have much to learn from a powerful new study released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which shows that one out every 10 Americans is now an ex-Catholic. {Scroll through my take on more Catholic church issues.}

    “Any other institution that lost one-third of its members would want to know why. But the U.S. bishops have never devoted any time at their national meetings to discussing the exodus. Nor have they spent a dime trying to find out why it is happening,” writes Jesuit Father Thomas Reese continues

  • abb3w

    It’s also available on HBO “on demand”, for those whose cable service provides such.

  • teawithbertrand

    I watched last Monday night. Powerful and hard to watch. The 2 hour, not funny version of this:

  • Crudely Wrott

    Well, when the unsinkable Titanic began to sink almost no one aboard was worried . . .

  • Childermass

    The above mentioned Deliver Us From Evil (comment #2) streams on Netflix. Mea Maxima Culpa is listed on Netflix DVDs as availability unknown. But it can be “saved” for if and when it becomes available. If other Netflix subscribers “save” it, it might encourage them to buy more such documentaries.