Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:42 PM
rug (53,800 posts)
Alex Gibney’s ‘Mea Maxima Culpa’: Sex, Lies, and the Catholic Church
Alex Gibney’s Mea Maxima Culpa, premiering tonight on HBO, tackles the Catholic Church’s sordid history of sex abuse. Michael Moynihan talks to the director about forced celibacy and the pope’s complicity.
Feb 4, 2013 4:45 AM EST
Some popular documentarians—like Michael Moore and Ken Burns—allow themselves years to obsess over a project, shooting hundreds of interviews and endlessly tinkering with edits. That’s not a method that interests Academy Award–winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, the director of such critically lauded documentaries as Taxi to the Dark Side, about the death of an Afghan taxi driver at the hands of American soldiers, and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which delves into the backstory of the firm’s scandalous collapse. In 2011 alone, Gibney directed four feature-length films. He’s currently promoting two of them: the forthcoming We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which debuted last month at the Sundance Film Festival—and has already been denounced by mercurial WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange—and Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, premiering tonight on HBO. (Between promotional engagements, Gibney is also completing his investigation into disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.)
Gibney’s most affecting films scrutinize institutions he considers irredeemably corrupt—the United States government, the lobbying industry, the war on terror. With Mea Maxima Culpa, he turns his critical lens on the child-molestation scandals that have consumed the Catholic Church, along with the church’s shameful record of denial, obfuscation, and omertà. Gibney, whose late father-in-law was the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, the famous radical theologian, focuses on the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, a Roman Catholic priest in Milwaukee who sexually abused hundreds of deaf boys under his spiritual care. When news of the molestation was brought to the attention of church authorities, Murphy, like many other priests accused of abuse, was merely relocated to a different church while his victims were ignored—a policy, Gibney argues, determined by the Vatican itself.
The Daily Beast spoke with Gibney about Pope Benedict XVI’s culpability in the scandal, the church’s policy of forced celibacy, and a backlash of criticism of his film from a prominent victims’ group.
The Daily Beast: Explain the title of the film.
I would like to see an in-depth look at this. Hope this documentary does it.
To each according to his need.
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