Monday, February 04, 2013

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Tonight HBO premiered a documentary entitled "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" which investigates the secret crimes of Father Lawrence Murphy, a Roman Catholic priest who abused more than 200 deaf children in a school under his control.   Not surprisingly, the trail in the lies and cover ups that took place all the way to the Vatican and documents the involvement of Popes from Pope Paul VI onward, with the current Pope Benedict XVI bearing perhaps the most responsibility given his position as head of the dread Inquisition for over 20 years before his elevation to the papacy.   The picture revealed is hideous and chilling.  In any other context outside of religion and a large religious institution, the perpetrators and accessories would all have faced prosecution and lengthy prison sentences.  Yet, despite their crimes the current Pope and many of the Church's current cardinals and bishop have gone totally unpunished and remain the objects of deference and respect.  It is an indictment of not only the Catholic Church hierarchy but also every Catholic who has remained in the Church and continues to finance the Vatican orchestrated criminal enterprise.  Andrew Sullivan has some lengthy and telling commentary:

Alex Gibney’s new documentary on the child-rape epidemic in the Catholic Church that raged for decades (and maybe centuries), Mea Maxima Culpa, debuted tonight on HBO. I’ve watched it twice. It is both an inspiring testament to faith and truth – as well as a devastating indictment of pride, power, and lies. The former come from four boys who attended St John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee in the 1970s. The latter comes from the Vatican and everyone in its power structure then and ever since. 

The story begins as long ago as 1974 when four boys put fliers on the windshields of the cars in the parking lot of the church run by the man who raped them. They simply said “Wanted” with the priest’s name (the more explicit flyer in the video above came later). Instead of being listened to, the kids were disciplined. Eventually, in Murphy’s psychiatric record, Gibney finds Father Lawrence Murphy confessing to raping over 200 boys over a long period of time. He raped them in their dorm rooms; he raped them in the confessional, using the small window as a glory hole and granting absolution based on rape or masturbation. The detail I cannot quite recover from is that he picked out for abuse those deaf boys who had parents who could not use sign language – so that even if the boys had the courage to say what had happened to them, their parents would not understand. It’s things like that that simply chill you, haunt you, force you to confront the pre-meditated, profound assault on human souls that the Catholic Church, from the Pope on down, enabled, perpetuated, and lied about for so long – and still hasn’t been held fully accountable for.

And what this documentary proves beyond any reasonable doubt (like Gibney’s examination of the Bush-Cheney administration’s decision to torture prisoners in “Taxi To The Dark Side”) is that all of it was known throughout the hierarchy for decades.

It has been a core problem with the “celibate” priesthood in the US for decades, and every single bishop and every single Pope knew it. Fitzgerald personally met with Pope Paul VI to try and get him to act. Yes, the good folks in the church tried to do something as early as the 1950s and were stopped in their tracks … by the Vatican. The number of souls violated by child-rape in the coming decades would not have happened if all the Popes since Paul VI had acted with more moral sense than most maximum security murderers. (Even the worst prisoners regard child-rapists as the lowest of the low. Popes? Not so much). We’re not talking about priests who are drunks, or priests who fall in love, or break their vows in fallible, victimless ways; we’re talking here about priests committing one of the most heinous felonies imaginable: the systematic rape of children using the authority of the Church as cover.

John Paul II emphatically cannot be somehow removed from this picture. He personally protected one of the worst offenders, Marcial Maciel, who was a serial rapist, drug trafficker, bigamist and rapist of his own son.

Joseph Ratzinger, when he was Archbishop of Munich, personally signed off on sending a priest to therapy, after that priest had raped several children, never notified the police, never told the parents of the children at the parish the priest was then assigned to, and because of this negligence, was, in my view, complicit in the rape of several more children before the priest was finally caught, arrested and sent to jail. Let me repeat that: the current Pope enabled and abetted the rape of children  .  .  .  .    More than that, no one else in the church knows more about this long record of child-rape than Ratzinger. From 2001 onwards, all cases of child rape or abuse were ordered to be sent to his personal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And all of it had to be kept completely hidden from the outside world. In the words of Hans Kung, Ratzinger’s former modernizing ally in the Second Vatican Council,
Ratzinger himself, in a letter on “grave sexual crimes” addressed to all the bishops under the date of 18 May, 2001, warned the bishops, under threat of ecclesiastical punishment, to observe “papal secrecy” in such cases.
He knew everything – and had the goods on every Cardinal, in whose dioceses thousands of complaints had been filed. And one wonders why it was a surprise he was elected Pope.

In the Catholic Church, mass rapists get retirement homes with maids. She confronts the rape victim. She keeps asking him: “Are you a Catholic?” He keeps replying that this has nothing to do with Catholicism and everything to do with rape. She just comes back at him with rapid-fire repetitions of “Are you a Catholic?” “Are you a Catholic?” “Are you a Catholic?

Where are we now as a church if we vaunt one of the biggest enablers of child-rape, John Paul II, to the status of sainthood without a thorough investigation of these matters?

When will we Catholics insist in the prosecution of this Pope and this hierarchy for what can only be called – given its duration and gravity and sheer scale – a crime against humanity. When will we lose the deference to a clerical elite that has become its own self-perpetuating clique of sexual dysfunction, that has lost even the most basic moral authority, that even now refuses to hold itself to account.

Sadly, Sullivan continues to identify as a Catholic despite all of the known crimes of the Church leadership.  And this is part of the problem that he purports to decry.  Only by all moral people walking away from the Church - and I do not know how anyone moral can remain a Catholic given all that is now known - will the Church lose sufficient support to expose it to the criminal prosecutions that need to be undertaken.  Sadly, both law enforcement officials and politicians will in most cases be afraid to take need measures against the Church as longs as millions of members of the Catholic laity remain members of the Church and de facto accessories to these countless crimes against children.  I walked away from Catholicism over a decade ago.  My children and all but one of my siblings have done likewise.  But too many people out of laziness and a fear of thinking for themselves remain and allow the guilty to remain unpunished.

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