Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012)

TV-14  |   |  Documentary  |  16 November 2012 (USA)
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Alex Gibney explores the charged issue of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, following a trail from the first known protest against clerical sexual abuse in the United States and all the way to the Vatican.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Terry Kohut ...
Himself - St. John's School for the Deaf, 1960-1969
Gary Smith ...
Himself - St. John's School for the Deaf, 1954-1970
Pat Kuehn ...
Himself - St. John's School for the Deaf, 1969-1973
Arthur Budzinski ...
Himself - St. John's School for the Deaf, 1953-1964
Lawrence Murphy ...
Himself - priest, St. John's School for the Deaf, 1950-1974 (archive footage)
Richard Sipe ...
Himself - Former Benedictine Monk / Mental Health Counselor
Scott Kuehn ...
Himself (archive footage)
Angela Kuehn ...
Herself (archive footage)
Patrick Wall ...
Himself - Former Benedictine Monk (as Patrick J. Wall)
Bob Bolger ...
Himself - St. John's School for the Deaf (archive footage)
John Conway ...
Himself - Counselor for the Deaf
Jim Heydendahl ...
Himself - Senior Boys' Dorm Supervisor, 1972-1974
Geoffrey Robertson ...
Himself - Human Rights Lawyer (as Geoffrey Robertson QC)
Jeff Anderson ...
Himself - Attorney for Gary Smith & Terry Kohut


Alex Gibney explores the charged issue of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, following a trail from the first known protest against clerical sexual abuse in the United States and all the way to the Vatican.

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Release Date:

16 November 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Den största synden  »

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$1,000,000 (estimated)

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Did You Know?


The narration states "In 1929, a cardinal, soon to be Pope Pius XI, signed the Lateran Treaty with the Fascist government of Mussolini to create the Vatican State." Actually, in 1929, Pius XI was already pope, having been elected in 1922. See more »


Featured in 2013 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Doesn't totally close the circle but is still upsetting and well structured
17 July 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I only heard about this film recently, although at the time of his resignation I had heard that the Pope had gone in relation to revelations within a film. This was just a suggestion of course and it may not even have been this film but what made me come to this was mainly that I heard it mentioned in a list of documentaries from Gibney. His documentaries have been well worth watching and on that basis I wanted to watch this one. The film looks at the child abuse scandal within the catholic church, focusing specifically on a handful of cases involving deaf children and slowly working its way up to the highest positions within the organization of the church.

As a journey it is one that is hard to watch from start to end. The details of the abuse are very difficult to listen to – not just the words but the realization of how completely alone these boys were, how utterly predatory their abuser was; we all know it occurred but to hear it from these victims made it all the realer to me and all the more sickening. As the film goes on we continue to get details, not so much over the abuse but over the action (or rather, inaction) of the church. It moves key players into the frame, discussing the structure of treatment centers, protection of priests and really doesn't leave much doubt about how much was known and by contrast how little was done. It is very hard to watch and it is mostly structured very well to not only build the story so effectively but also to shock and upset even after so much of this issue is known.

It doesn't totally manage to close the loop and once it reaches the top and loops round to the original story again, it doesn't quite have the structural impact as a whole that it did in specific moments. This is a very minor failing in comparison to how effective it is for the majority of the running time, but it does leave the film feeling that the final knockout punch is missing – which of course it is. The footage is well edited together and Gibney's narrator is mostly restrained and well pitched. It is a very hard watch at times though, but the subject matter is well worth the feeling of anger, injustice and sense of total exploitation that it will leave you with.

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