What’s most interesting about the documentary film “Deliver Us From Evil” is the criticism coming from across the spectrum in the Church. Most people agree that while a good documentary about the Scandal that challenges the bishops on their actions and inactions would be nice to have, this isn’t that documentary.
Grant Gallicho, associate editor of Commonweal, pans the movie in a Religion News Service review.
A sober movie that asks tough questions, offers incisive portraits of victims and perpetrators, and conveys the necessary context should be mandatory viewing for bishops. Regrettably, “Deliver Us From Evil” is not that film. Rather, its biases and arguments are mirror images of the ones deployed by those who defend the church’s behavior in the abuse scandal.
The movie looks at a real problem and a real scandal, which would be a good thing, except that the filmmaker Amy Berg uses it as a vehicle to attack the Church and her teachings. Gallicho also says that it is clearly biased, only presenting the victims’ side of the story—which usually means the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ side—(along with convicted molester Oliver O’Grady’s viewpoint), but never balances it with other viewpoints.
Gallicho says the movie has quite a few glaring errors and sensationalistic and unsupportable claims. He also says it ignores the institutional response to the Scandal starting in 2002. While I’m not quite ready to view the response so far as a solution, it is indeed a response, while Berg’s account would have you believe that nothing has happened.
Moreover, the very end of the movie is indicative of Berg’s lack of understanding of the subject she’s covering.
But the time and effort Berg put into obtaining hours of footage with O’Grady makes it difficult to understand why she didn’t include at least one independent commentator. The final frame of the film reads: “The Catholic Church declined to be interviewed for this documentary.” Which part? The lay review board? Its chairwoman told me none of its members was contacted by the filmmakers.
Berg obviously thinks the Church is like any megacorporation and so refers to it as such. She just doesn’t understand that the Church isn’t just the USCCB or one diocese or one bishop or many bishops or even the Vatican. The Catholic Church is me and you and every Catholic. Most importantly the Church is Christ. But when you need a convenient punching bag, the straw man of the uncaring institution will do.
Previous blog entries on this movie: