Sunday, February 3, 2008

Deliver Us From Evil

Deliver Us from Evil (Amy Berg, 2006)

screed n. 1. a long monotonous harangue

The recent spate of scandals in the Catholic Church finally put the last nail in the crucifix of my faith. I've long considered that Organized Religion is just another way for a self-appointed select few to exercise (or exorcise) power over individuals all-too-willing to buy what they're selling. Combine it with a tax dodge (from a government that only talks separation of Church and State), and all sorts of scum will crawl out of the woodwork claiming the Ear of God, especially when they can hide behind the guise of sanctimony. "Deliver Us From Evil" puts faces on the headlines and the money settlements, of people of faith victimized not only by priest-predators, but by the hierarchy of the Church that condoned the actions by playing a shell-game relocating the offenders, rather than punishing them, making the Church no better than a pederasty ring. At the black heart of the documentary is Father Oliver O'Grady, the very epitome of the stereotypical Catholic Priest: folksy, black Irish with enough accent and blarney to charm his way into the hearts of his flock, and used them to charm his way into trusting households and molest the children inside, male or female--O'Grady didn't discriminate. One wonders why he would
consent to an interview. To clear the air? Penance of a twisted sort? Whatever the reasons the man is so clueless and mired in the cess-pool of his own rationalizations that he seems to have made a sort of peace with what he's done, a sociopathic self-satisfaction that one can only observe with disbelieving shock. Perhaps it has something to do with his faith. He's done his Penance, and so he must be forgiven, right? That's the very heart of the Church's Sacrament of confession. But it's a dogma that falls short for those victims still haunted by his actions, and are having a hard time forgiving themselves, though their only failing is to trust someone, who is supposed to be trustworthy. That trust has been shattered not only by a family friend and "God's disciple," but also by the Church hierarchy that hid the crimes, and allowed them to be repeated in other counties
(The Pope, as the head of state of the Holy See has immunity from prosecution in this country).

One of the parents breaks down and says that the whole experience has made him no longer believe in God. I'm with him. If God existed, these bastards would have been turned into pillars of salt by now. Still, the film, though wrenching, carries with it some hope in the form of
Fr. Thomas Doyle
, an advocate for the victims who has run afoul of the Church for his stand. His compassion, and the strength of the faith of two of the victims featured are testaments (if you will) to the good of their belief system. And the ability to heal.

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