“Deliver Us From Evil”
Maple Art Theatre, Bloomfield Hills
Pedophilia in the Catholic Church is not news. Sure, the clergy abuse scandals dominated the headlines a few years back, but for folks who weren’t Catholic or directly involved, the events faded into a proliferation of tasteless altar boy jokes.
But hey, that’s sometimes how we process things too terrible and too complicated to wrap our brains around. However, when it comes to the sexual abuse, both past and present, of children in the church, you really have to look evil in the eye and accept being uncomfortable to grasp the magnitude of the damage.
It’s not an easy journey as illustrated by writer and director Amy Berg’s new documentary “Deliver Us From Evil.” In it she introduces us to Oliver O’Grady, a convicted pedophile who had 20 years of unfettered access to kids in California.
O’Grady all too affably admits to this. Adult females don’t turn him on, he says. Neither do adult males. But children, especially naked children, do.
This isn’t normal. O’Grady was, and is, sick. Any decent institution would’ve done everything in their power to keep this guy away from kids.
Which isn’t saying much for the Catholic Church. Berg’s film demonstrates how O’Grady’s offenses against children were common knowledge of church officials, including Cardinal Roger Mahoney, who is still the Archbishop of Los Angeles. Yet they did nothing to stop him. In fact, they enabled him. Whenever a new allegation cropped up, they moved him to another church. They, in essence, kept him supplied with fresh meat in order to save Catholic face.
Berg uses interviews with three of O’Grady’s now adult victims, both male and female, victims’ parents and lawyers, psychologist Mary Gail Frawley O’Dea and abuse survivor advocate Father Tom Doyle, as well as footage of church leaders’ depositions (the Catholic Church declined to be interviewed for the film) to construct a tight case of corruption that leads all the way to the top. That’s right: all the way to Pope Benedict who was accused of covering up abuse and was subsequently granted immunity from prosecution by George W. Bush.
The implications are chilling. But the Catholic Church doesn’t seem to be doing anything about the problem except throwing money at it (a $10 million settlement over abuse claims was just announced in Los Angeles) and blaming homosexuals.
If you’ll recall, it was just last year, in the wake of the clergy abuse scandals, the Vatican issued instructions to weed out priests with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies. In fact, the Catholic Church has been quite the bulldog when it comes to fighting against gay people and families. Where is this fervor when it comes to fighting against little girls and boys being raped?
Scapegoating gays does nothing to help the countless children who have been abused over the years by priests like O’Grady. Homosexuals and pedophiles are not the same thing. But the more you learn about sexual abuse and the Catholic Church, the more you realize that this is only one lie of many.