Mea Maxima Culpa: Abuse and the Catholic Church

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney talks about his documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa,” which exposes the abuse of power in the Catholic Church and a cover-up of child abuse from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to through Ireland's churches to the highest office of the Vatican. The film examines the international and systematic conspiracy of silence of victims worldwide. “Mea Maxima Culpa” airs on HBO February 4, at 9 pm.


Alex Gibney

Comments [23]

Ed from Larchmont

This case from Milwaukee had been in the news two years ago or so and hashed over then. See the Catholic League's report. It turns out the Archbishop Weakland, who was the archbishop in 1980, totally discredited for other reasons, was the one who could have acted in the situation. And he didn't, yet he's made the hero in this movie.

As the Catholic League says, if they have evidence that the Vatican knew about it, why don't they show the evidence, instead of interviewing people who say 'he must have known'. The BBC said they had no idea that Jimmy Saville (sp?) was abusing children.

Feb. 05 2013 08:03 AM
Ed from Larchmont

And now the papers from the Los Angeles Archdiocese, very bad for Cardinal Mahoney and the archdiocese. The bishops moved priests and got them treatment and hoped for the best, and it didn't work.

The Church is the body of Christ, and it has to go the way of Christ. As it says in the Scriptures, 'He was counted among the criminals.'

Feb. 01 2013 07:59 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Of course, many people lost their faith as a result of abuse, and many did on just hearing about it.

Archbishop Rembert Weakland - where did you find him? Of course he would speak to you, he is completely discredited and has nothing left to lose. (Doesn't make him a bad man.)

Feb. 01 2013 07:57 AM

Adding to what "Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn" pointed-out about the many devastating effects of abuse:

Many people also lose their faith as a result of suffering abuse at the hands of clergy.

I wonder if Ed from Larchmont has considered that.

Jan. 31 2013 01:41 PM

@Mike from Tribeca: Thanks.

Jan. 31 2013 01:13 PM

@john from office:

Do you have any idea how many of the people who prey upon children are married?

Allowing priests to marry might HELP but to suggest it's "the answer", i.e., a complete solution, is just ridiculous.

Jan. 31 2013 01:09 PM
Mike from Tribeca

Listener -- Your reply to @Ed from Larchmont is spot on.

Jan. 31 2013 01:06 PM
Tony from Canarsie

A very informative interview. A future segment about how and why Cardinal Dolan gets a free pass from the local press would be most welcome.

Jan. 31 2013 01:03 PM
B.A. from Bronx, NY

Has Alex reconsidered his portrayal of American soldiers who were involved in torture?

Jan. 31 2013 12:58 PM
kirrwed from Illinois

This film was analyzed by the folks at Catholic World Report whom documented a detailed response to the film:

Jan. 31 2013 12:57 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

What a disgrace that this tremendous movie was not nominated for the Oscar. Alex Gibney is a national treasure.

Jan. 31 2013 12:54 PM
John A

Ed, you gave a perfect setup. Stop contemplating the evil here and get it out with the greatest effort available.

Jan. 31 2013 12:52 PM
john from office

The answer is to let priest get married. That change will attract people who will make great priests, also let women in the priesthood.

Jan. 31 2013 12:51 PM

@Ed from Larchmont:

Will you at least watch the film?

Jan. 31 2013 12:46 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The main question though is whether this scandal affects what the Church claims to be. And the answer is no. One looks back to Judas, the first scandal, and the scandals through history, and one wonders about the 'mystery of evil'.

Jan. 31 2013 12:42 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I think the problem with reporting abuse is that it leads to investigations further up the line. Only someone not living in a glass house (he who is without sin) can afford to throw stones.

Ed: We all know your strict Catholic views, but what you fail to take into account is the severe psychological damage all this abuse inflicts on the victims and that they have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Some of their lives are cut short by suicide (which is a sin in Catholicism, correct?) as a result of their inability to deal with it. Some of the abused go on to be abusers. And, of course, children who have been sexually abused are no longer virgins when they marry, which is also a sin in Catholicism. The repercussions are countless, yet you try to discount it.

Toss out the dogma and try to think rationally for a change.

Jan. 31 2013 12:17 PM
John A

Here's my little slice of documentation. 12 years in Catholic school, 15 years going to church post-childhood, met maybe 30 priests. Never anything inappropriate. BTW the school experience was very positive.

Jan. 31 2013 12:04 PM

The _all_ lie?


Jan. 31 2013 11:39 AM
Neil Allen from new york

Catholics all lie about this topic, saying"its this bad everywhere", but the Catholic church is BY FAR the largest pedophile protection program in the world.

The Mea Culpa show is only about one of the 4,392 substantiated, accused, pedophile priests in the U.S. that the Catholic church admitted in their own John Jay report of 2004. No other institution admitted anywhere near 4,392 pedophiles, and the Catholic church only has 40,000 priests at any given time, and 100,000 over the 52 year period of the study.

Worse yet, in the Catholic church, its organized crime - priests rape children, they confess to other priests that hide them, bishops hide and move them, and they all bully the victims.

This is cowardly evil, in God's name.

Jan. 31 2013 11:19 AM
John A

Most Catholic priests are really great people to meet and hear, for various reasons. Some are experts in rise and fall of empires. Some are expert on peaceful resistance. Most are expert 'group psychologists', to go to after a tough week. But I can see how their quiet nature makes the abuse scandal seem from the outside like the most prominent business the Church has going. Wow, bad categorization, and real unfortunate.

Jan. 31 2013 10:57 AM

@Ed from Larchmont:

"There are 1.2 million abortions a year, and that is a greater crime, and a greater child abuse, but we don't hear a whisper about it."

So then we should just ignore crimes and injustices as long as greater ones exist? Two wrongs don't make a right.

You're giving a bad name to the anti-abortion community (which includes me, btw).

As to your claim that abuse at other institutions isn't reported, where have you been?! In the last year or two alone, I have heard more reports of sexual abuse scandals at schools than I can recall. Penn State, Horace Mann, many others.

Jan. 31 2013 10:20 AM

I never buy the argument from my son or anyone else that points out what other people are doing as a means to quantify what horrible thing they have done.

Bishops trying to avoid a scandal is the lamest excuse for doing wrong that I have ever heard. So the Pope realizes an issue he should have handled differently LONG AGO does not make him any less of an acomplice to the crime. As I say to my child, "I meant to..." or "I'm sorry I did it..." doesn't take away the harm already done.

Not to worry about the "greater crime", Ed from Larchmont. According to the latest news from The Church "the fetus is not a person until it is born alive" according to the defense put forth by lawyers for the St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, CO.

More double talk from the Catholic Church - if it protects them. Follow the law when it is convient to them - but take the stand that laws interfer with your "religious freedon" when something as simple as birth control coverage in their employee health insurance benefit.

Take away their tax exemption in the US.

Jan. 31 2013 09:37 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The bishops were trying to avoid scandal and ended up causing more scandal. But it's a complex case.

Still, let's say there are 10,000 or 100,000 abuse victims in the U.S. over the last fifty years. There are 1.2 million abortions a year, and that is a greater crime, and a greater child abuse, but we don't hear a whisper about it.

Pope Benedict, from before he was pope, has tried to get abusive priests out of the priesthood, so he's not the one to blame. And now there are regulations in every diocese about reporting abuse, etc., and very few cases of abuse. The Church has a model that other institutions (which have abuse but it's not reported) can use effectively.

Jan. 31 2013 08:00 AM

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