Silence in the House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa

DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 42min

DIRECTED BY: Alex Gibney

Prey for me: from left, Murphy and Kuehn

From the 1950s to the ’70s, Catholic priest Lawrence Murphy allegedly abused some 200 boys while a teacher at Milwaukee’s St John’s School for the Deaf. Four of the middle-aged men they now are — Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Pat Kuehn and Arthur Budzinsky — sign their stories to camera in director Alex Gibney’s slap in the collective faces of church hierarchy. Their memories are still cruelly fresh, their stories direct and appalling. And that’s just the beginning of Gibney’s global exposé, which uncovers a collusion of secrecy that stretches from the parish to the Vatican.


Cleanly and methodically, Gibney slices and dices the coruscating facts. The stats keep coming in a dizzying confirmation of what we already know from news headlines. We’re too well aware of the damage done by paedophile priests and the protective attitude of church authorities. What we want to know is what can finally be done to prevent sexual abuse from recurring? As a manifesto of outrage, Silence rings loud and clear. Given the track record it uncovers, however, it’s unlikely that many in the Vatican will be listening.