|Deliver us From Evil|
When the documentary Deliver us from Evil came out, I shunned it at first for two reasons. I knew that it would affect me emotionally, so I was reluctant to go through it. Child abuse is a touchy subject and especially in a documentary you cannot pretend it did not happen or that it is a work of fiction. My second reason was that I did not want the documentary to stain the image and respect I have for the institution of the Catholic Church. Despite its various shortcomings, I could not help feeling admiration for its traditions that have managed to exist and last for about two thousand years.
Needless to say, I was in a state of shock and torpor after watching the documentary. No, I do not believe it is merely a “witch hunt” or propaganda against the Church, since those were real children affected by the horrific actions of various priests. I was mainly appalled by the statements of Father O'Grady. He took everything so lightly and did not seem to realize the gravity of his actions and its devastating effects on the lives of the children and their family who had put their whole trust in this man. How can a man of religion breach the trust of sincere believers and commit acts so shameful in the eyes of God, especially since they involve the most pure and innocent of His creatures, children?
Evidently, such people are not only disturbed but mentally ill. The documentary gave a glimpse of possible reasons for such deeds. The priest himself had dealt with sexual abuse in his family. He was delusional and dissociated himself from certain events. He believed that he was showing children affection, perhaps even doing them a favor, through his sexual acts. He lacked any real sense of their feelings and devastation.
But what infuriated me much more was not only the actions of this priest. It was the cover-up of the church authorities that made me most angry. The first reaction was denial and that it was all mere fabrication or exaggeration on the part of the children. Then once there was irrefutable evidence, all the authorities did was to send this troubled priest not to counseling but to different parishes. He was moved several times as a result and hence continued committing horrendous acts with the full knowledge and support of the authorities.
This became especially clear in the statements and depositions. The church authorities in charge all either refused to comment through objections raised by their hired lawyers or they feigned dementia. They simply did not remember what had exactly occurred. The most startling statement was that they did not connect the dots between two incidents of child molestation by Father O' Grady because one involved a girl and another a boy and that usually priests abuse only one or the other gender!
Now if the Church would have acted with urgency and authority and taken this issue seriously, they would have managed to redeem themselves in my eyes. But instead they offered immunity to their own who have committed serious legal crimes. Father O'Grady could not escape fully since his crimes brought him seven years behind bars, but he was told that the authorities were still behind him, and he is to my knowledge receiving generous pensions living freely in Ireland.
One of the most shocking pieces of information was that the issue of child abuse, something so prevalent and so damaging to the reputation of the church (it is estimated that about 10 % of new members or graduates commit sexual acts on children) was not even raised during the conferences of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, the person involved for overseeing such claims was no other than the current Pope Ratzinger. When faced with the possibility of legal action in the States, George W. Bush officially pardoned him, so there have been absolutely no legal proceedings against someone who is fully aware of the wrongdoings of his flock.
It is a very sad and unfortunate state of affairs. A lot of the problems may stem from the tradition of not allowing sexual activity for priests. They are human beings after all with sexual desire and often they enter priesthood at a young age. Thus, they misplace their sexual desires on those who are most unsuspecting and most innocent, the children in their grasp.
I am not a Catholic, but even if I were, I would never hand over the care of my son to church authorities. In fact, I would not want them anywhere close to my child. It may be an exaggeration or even prejudice, but it is one supported by evidence and by the fact that these crimes are taken silently and go by unpunished to this day.