The HBO produced film, “Mea Maxima Culpa,” recently completed its New York City run. Full of fallacies, the documentary is nothing less than propaganda.
Director Alex Gibney would have us believe that he has proven a “direct connection of the Vatican” to the homosexual scandal, though his effort fails miserably (the horror-film soundtrack is laughable).
As one review of the movie said, “All the reports of sex abuse in the church since the 1960s went directly to the current pope, Benedict XVI, to the time when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.” Wrong. There was no central command center until 2001 when Ratzinger took over. And that’s when things really began to change—just the opposite of what Gibney would have us believe.
Much of the movie focuses on Father Lawrence Murphy, a serial abuser from Wisconsin. Here are some facts that undercut Gibney’s misinformation: Murphy’s crimes extend to the 1950s; the civil authorities were not asked to investigate until the mid-1970s; following the probe, the case was dropped; the Vatican wasn’t notified until 1996 (it could have ignored the case because the statute of limitations had expired); a trial was ordered; the priest who presided over the case between 1996-1998 has said that in all the meetings he had in the U.S. and in Rome, “at no time…was Cardinal Ratzinger’s name ever mentioned.”
Gibney touts Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland for trying “as no other cleric did—to push for the canonical trial” of Murphy in 1996. But we have proof that Gibney’s hero—who had to resign after his male lover revealed that the archbishop paid him $450,000 to settle a sexual assault lawsuit—knew about Murphy’s crimes at least as early as 1980. So why did it take Weakland 16 years to contact the Vatican?
At one screening in New York City, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey pushed her sex abuse reform law. She was a perfect fit with all the other frauds—her bill doesn’t apply to the public schools.