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Deliver Us From Evil (2006)

by on 2012/09/27

“What we need to do as a church is acknowledge our good days and our bad days.”

* * * *

If I weren’t an atheist, I would thank god for people like Father Thomas Doyle, Anne Marie Jyono, her parents Bob and Maria, and Deliver Us From Evil‘s director/writer Amy Berg. God or no, these people deserve thanks.

A whole lot of it.

They demonstrated a kind of bravery that, if justice exists at all in the universe, should change minds, and heap years of shame on a very wealthy, very old institution.

This is the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandal as I had never seen it before. It is an intimate account, at times too-close-for-comfort – way too close – told by the victims, their parents, and their abuser – Father Oliver O’Grady.

Smiling, shrugging, matter-of-fact, disturbingly detached, Ireland-born Father O’Grady or Father Ollie was an insidious, prolific pedophile while a priest in the U.S. In his own words, he claimed to have raped nearly 25 children in Northern California. It is alleged that one of his victims was a 9-month-old infant.

There’s no mystery here. There’s no question that children were harmed. Father Ollie is open, sharing repugnant details, he’s even somewhat apologetic. He says he hopes that his participation in the documentary will help and be an “honest confession.”

In a later scene, he even writes each of his victims asking them to come and see him so he can apologize in person. He seems quite bright-eyed and eager about that prospect.

Right.

This documentary made me incredibly angry and sick. In documented video testimony, it is clear to me that the upper echelons of the U.S. Catholic Church, particularly senior officials at O’Grady’s diocese, simply swept the matter under the proverbial rug and moved O’Grady to a succession of other parishes where he was free to reoffend.

And reoffend he did. Children were hurt, families were damaged.

The film suggests that not only the U.S. Church but the Vatican knew and participated in a an ass-covering that essentially aided and abetted these crimes. The tendrils of this institutional nastiness led all the way up to current Pope Benedict XVI.

Anne Marie Jyuno and her absolutely lovely parents Bob and Maria form part of a delegation of victims who travel to the Vatican, led by the very worthy, noble, firebrand Father Tom Doyle. Seeing this group head to Catholicism’s stronghold to lodge their complaint at the golden gilded source, gave me heart that bravery can exist in a world so dominated by lies and corruption.

Deliver Me From Evil tells a story that Catholic Church needs to hear and heed. Mostly, it was a privilege to experience the decency, goodness and determination that is Father Thomas Doyle, Jyono, her parents, and director/writer Amy Berg.

May they see justice and know peace.

* * * *

101 minutes

Unrated

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