by Edd Doerr
On Monday evening, Feb 4, HBO broadcast the documentary film Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God. This absorbing, nearly two-hour film deals with the clergy sexual abuse of minors scandal in the Catholic church, zeroing in specifically on the drawn out Father Lawrence Murphy case in Wisconsin, the Father Walsh case in Ireland, Cardinal Law in Boston, and the ages long coverups reaching up the chain to the highest reaches of the Vatican itself. Among those interviewed in the documentary are Father Thomas Doyle, who has worked to expose the mess, Catholic writer Jason Berry, who exposed the abuse scandal in Louisiana years ago, retired Archbishop Weakland of Wisconsin, and NY Times writer Laurie Goodstein.
The film is too long and complex for me to adequately review here. But the film was shown in theaters last fall and is surely available. Yet it only scratches the surface. The NY Times, the National Catholic Reporter and other papers have written about the mess for years and piles of books have been written about it. I have reviewed a dozen of them, including two (in Spanish) by Spanish psychologist Pepe Rodriguez from 1995 and 2002 on the sex life of the clergy and the pedophile problem. (There is an old Spanish saying: "A priest is a guy whom everyone calls 'father', except his own children, who call him 'uncle'." -- "Un cura es un tipo que todos llaman padre, sino sus propios hijos, que le llaman tio".) The 2006 Greenhaven Press book Child Abuse reprinted my column "The Catholic Church Routinely Ignores Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy" from the Dec 2003 Humanist (from whose pages I have been barred since I left the AHA presidency a decade ago).
The Catholic bishops, who cannot be said to really represent the Catholic people, have been pushing for decades to get tax support in the US for their shrinking private school system (down from 5.5 million K-12 students in 1965 to two million today) through vouchers or tax credits, to roll back reproductive choice, and to impede all efforts for governments to deal with the overpopulation crisis. And now they are trying to block the Affordable Care Act's requirement that church-related charities, colleges and hospitals that serve large numbers of women of all religious persuasions be required to indirectly provide contraceptive services, even though these institutions are generously supported by taxes extracted from Americans of all religious persuasions. The Vatican is even trying to crack down on nuns who have disagreed with the bishops on public policy matters.
The clergy sexual abuse scandals and coverups (see the developments in Los Angeles recently) should help retard the bishops campaigns to impose their medieal theocratic views on Americans
of all persuasions.