We just finished watching Deliver Us From Evil, an excellent 2006 documentary. Ugh, I haven’t felt so nauseated in quite some time. I need a shower.
You need to rent it.
I didn’t really know what it was about, other than that it was a documentary having to do with religion that Tammy had put in our Netflix queue. It started simply enough, circling around the mid-70′s activities of one Oliver O’Grady, a Catholic priest in California. “I want to promise myself this is going to be the most honest confession of my life.” Confession? The interwoven interview snippets began turning south as the potential for some “inappropriate contact” with a child was turning up in the discussions. With every chapter of the film, it only got worse.
Not one, or even a few, but dozens and dozens and perhaps hundreds of children. Both females and males. Sex with parents to get to kids. And he didn’t have sex with just young teens, but adolescents, and children… down to five years old, two years old, nine months old! Chapter after chapter showing his eluding prosecution by way of upper-management promises to victims and government officials to get this dirtbag out of the priesthood and away from kids — only to be quietly moved to another priesthood with more victims another city or two over. Decades of honing and using his predatory skills with the knowledge of the Church. More chapters with the focus shifting out to the patterns of buck-passing, indifference and coverup in the Church leadership as it struggles to deal with similar “issues” across the US, with culpability all the way up to the current Pope who (just prior to becoming Pope) was accused of conspiracy to cover up rampant sexual abuse in the US. He was granted immunity against prosecution for that by President Bush.
The film closes with where-are-they-now summary screens and various factoids: “Since 1950, sexual abuse has cost the Church over one billion dollars in legal settlements & expenses.” “Over 100,000 victims of clergy sexual abuse have come forward in the United States alone.” “Experts say more than 80% of sexual abuse victims never report their abuse.”
I was struck by how O’Grady’s “most honest confession” was nonetheless incredibly evasive; how his ongoing efforts at (ostensively) trying to make himself and his victims better were manipulative and oriented toward excusing and limiting the mind-bending scale of his atrocities. It was particularly chilling to watch him deploy some of the same disgusting manipulations he used on his young victims right before our eyes — and sadly, we get to watch some of them continue to let him manipulate them.
Many of these victims still see the Church in a good light. Just one fellow, the father of a girl of five who was being raped by this monster, was shown feeling such outrage and betrayal that he wouldn’t step foot in another church and had dropped his faith. Meanwhile, his daughter is shown smiling toward the Vatican buildings on a present-day trip by victims to address the Church (rebuffed). Near the end of the film we see her kneeling in prayer in some cathedral.
This is what faith and submission to authority wreak.