Thursday, April 8, 2010

Deliver Me From Evil

On the Filmspotting Forum, I am a part of something called the Movie Dictators Club.  They pair us up, and we tell another person a movie they need to watch sometime in the month, and we ourselves receive a movie we need to watch.  Then we write on it, and everyone reads our reviews.  It's fun and exposes us to movies we might not otherwise watch.

This month, I received a dictation from someone who wanted me to watch Deliver Me From Evil, a documentary about clergy abuse in the Catholic Church.  

I knew I didn't want to watch this movie.  I knew that either it would be extremely biased, not understanding Jesus' mercy on the repentant, or it would really crush me.

Honestly, it's really well done.  It sets up the issue of abuse of children by clergy in the Catholic church well by presenting in depth interviews with a friendly, honest, out of work priest who just happened to have abused perhaps a hundred children under 12 in Central California.  But the film quickly moves on to the real problem-- how the leadership of the church compounded the problem by neglect, hiding, lying, and just moving a priest from location to location, without actually acknowledging the priest's abuse to anyone-- even the priest or to parishes that he was presiding over.  It's nice to see a documentary every once in a while that isn't about entertainment or self-promotion, but simply presenting the facts.

But it crushed me.  To have a church like that show such neglect to children  is not only immoral and criminal, but, according to Jesus, anyone who "causes ...little ones to stumble, it would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and to be thrown into the sea"-- In other words, the deepest part of hell is reserved for them.  And they are also neglecting the spiritual life of that priest.  If they had put him in the monastery early on, with counselling and careful oversight, perhaps he would have been all right.  But they neglected him as much as the children.  That is certainly the lesser crime, but I'm just saying the church was neglectful of everyone involved.

The Catholic Church isn't my church.  I don't have any right to tell them what to do.  But, honestly, Jesus would smash these people.  The priest he might have cared for early on, if he had been willing to completely change his life.  But the church...  That is not in any way representing Jesus and His people.  The New Testament warns against ambition in the church, as well as the severe penalties on those who harm children.  And as dreadful the harm the priest did, the church leadership took a single incident and spread it throughout a region, among more and more children.  

Honestly, if one reads Jesus' words carefully-- and he spoke about hell more than any other biblical speaker-- it is clear that hell is not for unbelievers or those of other religions or atheists or the like.  It is for people in the church who act like these church leaders acted.  It doesn't matter if the court system never catches up with them.  They've got it coming anyway.


LeeAnn said...

avoided this story in the media, too. thanks for buffering/discussing.

Susan said...

Thanks for the review, Steve. I always appreciate your insights on things like this and will definitely consider renting the movie myself.

As for your commentary on the way the Catholic Church dealt with the priests' behavior, I agree that it was wrong.

Having grown up Roman Catholic in the 1960s, and gone to Catholic school at that time, I think the reasoning (which we know to be faulty) was an attempt to be loving toward the priest and enact the Scripture verse: "love covers a multitude of sins." As born again believers, we realize this enactment doesn't take into account the whole of Scripture, nor does it deal with the sin, as you so adequately described it in your post, of either the priests or the children. Very recently in the press, the Pope has come out acknowledging that the choice made to "cover" the priest was not the right one. Might I say, though, that I think the original motivation for the choice was not to hide bad behavior of clergy but to be merciful toward them and give them a place to heal.

Okay, buddy boy! Awaiting your reply. I already see some holes in my reasoning; I'm just trying to express some of the altruistic reasons why the Catholic Church leadership would have chosen -- back in those days -- to make the choice that it did in those situations. We need to remember that MUCH fewer of such incidents were discussed openly and that many private matters, not just the sexual deviancy of priests with children, were similarly shoved under the rug. Not saying it was right; just saying it was so.

Steve Kimes said...

I had figured that it was the Church's concern for the priests that stirred their "cover-up". But in the main story depicted by the movie, it shows that this was not so. I was both appalled and disappointed by the events shown clearly in this film.

Susan said...

Definitely going to have to watch the movie myself then. God bless you, brother!