I quote the advertising by a local church that I spotted on a walk this afternoon:
Whatever battles you face prayer should be your weapon of choice
It felt like quite the irony after the documentary I watched with the Saskatoon Freethinkers today. It was called Deliver Us From Evil, which you can watch here. Prayer is the last thing that would help here.
Filmmaker Amy Berg recounts a harrowing story of child abuse and how a serial child molester went free for the better part of two decades in this documentary. Oliver O’Grady was a Catholic priest who served in a number of parishes in Southern California during the 1970s and ’80s. O’Grady was also a habitual child molester who abused dozens of youngsters who were entrusted to his care, and while his superiors in the church were aware of O’Grady’s crimes as early as 1973, they opted to simply move him from one congregation to another rather than turn him in to authorities or strip him of his ordination.
It was mentioned by more than a few members after the film just how sinister O’Grady comes across as a person who has very little remorse over his crimes. (A fan of the film at IMDB likens him to Hannibal Lecter.) He admits to some wrongdoing during the court proceedings that are included in the film and admitted he’d been abused as a child by his siblings and priests at one point – not like those events should make us excuse his behaviour, of course. O’Grady was asked at his trial if he ever experienced any dissociative states and agreed he might have. He also seemed to have a different definition for what should count as assault and molestation.
Once out of prison in the States (where he only served half his sentence, I think) and allowed to roam free untethered in Ireland, he’s on camera in the film writing letters to his victims, thinking they might want to come hang out with him and have them explain in their own words what he did. “I wouldn’t expect a hug, but maybe a handshake,” he says with a wink. Yikes.
Someone else in the film mentions that seminaries often get boys as young as 14 years old taking courses there and how they wind up brainwashed by all the “sex is sin” stuff at such a hormonal age. He then wondered how much of that stifled natural sexuality plays into the perverse sex acts these predators force their victims into. Like they’re stunted mentally by their complete and total lack of sex education. It also got mentioned that in a world where all sex is bad, are those people really going to consider pedophilia worse than sex with a willing adult man or woman?
While most of the film focused on the story of O’Grady, I was more interested in the end part where they talked more about the widespread campaign by the Catholic church to hide this shit. They moved O’Grady four times before one more complaint to police finally got the legal ball rolling. I can’t recall how many kids they think he assaulted but the youngest was 9 months old. Fathom that, if you can.
It’s not just the fact that he is what he is, it’s the complicit nature of the Church that’s the problem here and the sheer number of priests they know are abusers but are still allowed to work in parishes filled with children.
Mojoey over at Deep Thoughts has made a very depressing “hobby” out of documenting as many cases of this as he can find.
We’re debating a public showing of this documentary at some point, mostly just to raise awareness of the issue at stake here – the safety of children. If Roman Catholics are raised from early childhood to think of their parish priest as a mere step away from God, and, in fact, God’s rep on earth during the Eucharist ceremony, and has so much power over his flock in terms of whether or not they’ll even be allowed to have the Eucharist.. to see so many willing to abuse the trust their parishioners automatically bestow on them.. why aren’t more Catholics up in arms about that? How can they sit idle and silent?
How can anyone?