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In T. S. Elliot's "Murder in the Cathedral," the play's doomed Archbishop of Canterbury, Saint Thomas Becket, confesses, "[This] last temptation is the greatest of treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason."

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Steven Mummy

March 21, 2013  6:00pm

David DiCerto reviews films for the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has skin in this game. He is in essence reviewing a film critical of his employer. I graduated from a Roman Catholic seminary. The sexual malfeasance amongst clerics revealed to date is only the tip of the iceberg. From my own experience, and that of numerous classmates, ordained or nor, "promised chasity" is a myth. Richard Sipe's estimate of those observing it is low. The well documented actions taken by Bishops - Ratzinger included - to shield clerical abusers from criminal prosecution were deliberate, coordinated, criminal and immoral acts designed to protect the "patrimony" of the church: money and unconditional reverence from their flock - the foundation of their exhalted positions. DiCerto's beef is really that the film masterfully called the church to task about that fact, without giving the misplaced "reverence" that caused the crisis in the first place.

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Ronald Grim

February 25, 2013  3:43pm

I was once a believer, but after close examination of Christianity, its origins and evolution, and specifically after the continued atrocities uncovered in films like this, I have to come to the conclusion that the world would be a far better place without the bane of religion. There is simply no excuse for the protection of institutions and clergy that indulge and protect those that would harm a child. The fact that they actively covered it up defies the specific charge with which these people were entrusted – and if one does not think that is the case here and around the planet, you are not living in reality. Having two young children of my own, I struggle daily as my wife wants to bring them up in the Catholic faith. I am to the point that unless the Church reveals every single individual involved in these horrific crimes, and notifies the parishioners where they reside, that I would not expose my children to such risk.

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Doris Brosnan

February 24, 2013  4:38pm

You made about as good a Catholic try as possible to try to criticize this film. The Vatican had a chance to participate, but as a Catholic in the Milwaukee Archdiocese I can tell you they generally say as little as they can on this issue. The bottom line is the facts are the facts, and the facts really aren't aggrandized in this film. I understand the "devices" documentary movies use. The grainy film was pictures of the priest and the kids, what else are they going to use. It all comes down to the testimony of these deaf people who were abused. It is powerful, it is real. That is why the archdiocese of Milwaukee has done everything in its power to avoid a trial. The Wall Street Journal quote is an interesting argument. But the facts are the Catholic church did zero forever, even though it was in their best interest to do more.

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David DiCerto

February 12, 2013  12:00pm

As the author of the review, I wanted to address and hopefully clarify several points. The agony of those victims profiled in the film -- and by extension, all victims of sexual abuse -- resonated with me deeply as a parent, as a Catholic and as a human being. I would never defend the indefensible. The shame wrought on the Church I love, and more important, the pain caused to so many innocent lives by those entrusted with their spiritual care is a continuing source of anguish to me. The heinous acts chronicled -- both the abuse and, more unconscionable, the subsequent negligence and lack of compassion on the part of certain local ecclesial and civil authorities - is fair game for honest investigation. My problem is not that Gibney tried to shed light on crimes or self-preserving cover-ups, no matter how difficult for Catholics to face. I acknowledged he raised "legitimate and grave" questions." But the truth, however painful, cannot be served, ultimately, by misrepresenting it in part.

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Gary Davis

February 07, 2013  10:21am

As a life long atheist I am outraged and yet the revelations over the years will continue in my opinion. Just in the last few days the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of internal church documents that they alledge detail information about church officials accused of molesting children or participated in covering it up. The court ordered agreement for them to do this is six years old. It took them 6 years and upon examination we learn today that on many documents the names of church supervisors informed of abuse allegations were redacted by the archdiocese, a violation of the court's order. Furthermore there is ample reason to believe that the church's attorneys deliberately misled the public as to the number of pages that were to be released, saying in a press release last January that there were 30,000 pages. And you ask us to take umbrage at the film maker? You wish to aid and abet heinous acts? You have no decency.

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Martin Finney

February 06, 2013  9:26pm

It is so sad to see such relatively logical people become dominated by their absolutism. In my experience as a lifelong Roman Catholic, my relationship to God has always increased as have the temptations to abandon it. I have never failed to be gratified and encouraged by the results of following what I call "the little voices" when faced with a choice of action of serious nature. I am as sure that God guides me as I am sure I am sitting at a computer typing at this moment. When I see the unfortunate results of a failed policy on the part of the Hierarchy of the Church, I wonder if God's guidance is ignored by the prelates of the Church for the sake of self protection. Celibacy has long been thought to be a discipline that augments the spiritually of men and women. Homosexuality and pedophilia are both conditions that thrive in a celibate environment. Studies have shown that this is suspiciously true. Is the Hierarchy ignoring the "little voices"?

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Harvey Schneider

February 06, 2013  4:15pm

As for the facts, I will watch again, but I think it was pretty clear, that in a meeting between the victims and the diocese in the mid-seventies (1974?), two members of the Papal Nuncio were present. So the Vatican almost certainly knew about the abuse for decades. Claiming Pope Benedict didn't know about it until 1996 is disingenous. It also seems pretty clear that Father Murphy admitted to abusing up to 200 boys. There are no lack of facts. They are in the hands of the Church, and they refuse to release them. If there is excupatory information in there, then release them. If not, then please don't complain about a lack of facts. This isn't a story about religion, it is a story about criminals, and their enablers. Lastly, since the statute of limitations has run out, the only remedy under our system of justice is money. They can't make them do laundry, or wash cars, they can only ask for damages. Complaining about Anderson having a financial interest is just dishonest.

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Harvey Schneider

February 06, 2013  4:04pm

I just saw the movie last night with my wife. As a life long Roman Catholic, I have to say the movie rang true to me. When I was in Catholic High School, several priests bragged about the fact that in Chicago, where my High School was orginally located prior to moving to Southern California, they were routinely exempted from parking tickets, traffic tickets and the like once the Police saw the Roman Collars. Additionally one of the most common retorts to any complaint was that the Catholic Church was not a democracy, or if you don't like it, then leave. So the arrogance of priests and the power of the priests over local law enforcement in heavily catholic area's is not only believeable, it's unbelievable to me that they could NOT exert tremendous influence. I continue my faith to this day, and are raising my kids Catholic, (one more confimration to go!), inspite of the scandal. Because in every corner of the world, every day of the year, the Church is doing good for the poor.

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John stemp

February 05, 2013  8:32pm

As a victim of violent pedophilia by catholic clergy at ages 8 and 9, thank you for this movie. Sadly, this movie does not shed the whole truth. Not only was I sodomized, but the diocese sent two to threaten me from telling. This occurred in the Syracuse NY diocese. The bishop was one of my abusers. How well did he make sure the secret was kept. He claimed only a few bad priests are harming, yet he was one. The parishioners loved him and trusted him over victims. Today, the catholic church, headed by Dolan, lobby to stop laws that would expose pedos. The cover ups continue.

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B Barnes

February 05, 2013  8:46am

I understand your defensive attitude towards this film and it's creator. As a Catholic, I must admit it is difficult to see these truths layed out so publically. (I call them "truths" because I believe them.) Mr. Gibney has brought to light something that I wish my church had done long before this. Perhaps some innocents could have been saved. I, personally, am grateful to see this story told if it can help others. I have an adult friend who was a victim in our town (not Milwaukee). I remember when the stories began to surface. These people, "whistleblowers" if you will, gave him the courage to open up to us about his ordeal and to heal. He did not have the courage to come forward but he is taking good care of himself and his family. As I said, I understand that it is difficult to watch but if you put aside the notion of others and our own percieved agendas perhaps we can begin to see the gift in the message. Therein lies the beginnings of forgiveness.

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