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

TV-14 | | Documentary | 16 November 2012 (USA)
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.


Alex Gibney


Alex Gibney
Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »


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


Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney exposes the abuse of power in the Catholic Church and a cover-up that winds its way from the row houses of Milwaukee Wisconsin, through the bare ruined choirs of Ireland's churches all the way to the highest office of the Vatican. By investigating the secret crimes of a charismatic priest who abused over 200 deaf children in a school under his control - the film shows the face of evil that lurks behind the smiles and denials of authority figures and institutions who believe that because they stand for good they can do no wrong. Written by Jwelch5742

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TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

16 November 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Den största synden See more »

Filming Locations:

Vatican City See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film won 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming, Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming and Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. See more »


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 »


Referenced in See Hear: Episode #32.36 (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

You may just find yourself yelling at your TV as you watch this one!!
6 November 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

One of the reasons I watched this documentary is that I have a deaf daughter who herself attended a Catholic deaf school for a few years. The other is that I am an ex-therapist who used to work with sexual abuse victims and perpetrators (the latter, I came to realize are beyond the scope of therapy--hence my biggest reason for retiring from the field). Sadly, however, I cannot show this documentary to my daughter, as the folks didn't bother captioning the film--only what's being signed by the deaf folks being interviewed! This is ridiculous--how can they make a video that many of the victims cannot even watch and understand?! Crazy--and I can't think of a worse film to do without captions. Despite this HUGE problem, I still recommend the film to everyone--and perhaps deaf people could hopefully have an interpreter translate the film, though this is very unlikely. For this reason, the film loses a point.

"Mea Maxima Culpa" is a film that begins with a deaf school. During the tenure of a piece of human garbage (otherwise known as 'Father Murphy') at the school, he repeatedly sexually abused the kids. Not only did he victimize the most vulnerable population, within this group he targeted the most vulnerable--those deaf kids whose parents did not use sign language and/or had strained relationships. The saddest part of the film is NOT that the kids were abused by Murphy but the abuse by the Church--which repeatedly did everything it could to prevent Murphy and other pedophiles from being punished in any way. And, surprisingly, in this and so many other cases, the victims were threatened with excommunication if they came public*!! It's enough to make you want to toss something at your television and I found myself yelling at the film several times! In addition to the Murphy case, the film discusses a few other international cases (such as in Ireland, Italy and Latin America). And, it spends much of the time discussing the actions by John Paul and Benedict that impeded investigations and kept pedophiles in close contact with children.

Overall, this is a very well done documentary (aside from the captioning) and very, very compelling. It's hard to imagine anyone watching this without becoming energized--and that's a good sign of a documentary.

*In one case, the Church had a deaf adult sign a statement saying HE was sinful and was repenting for damaging the Catholic Church by 'lying' about the molestations. Many deaf adults are illiterate or nearly illiterate, so the notion that he had no idea what he was singing was very likely based on my experiences in the deaf community--plus they had no interpreter there during the meeting where he was asked to sign! Doing such a thing is further reason I found myself yelling out loud during the film. For shame!!

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