A few days ago I mentioned Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles’ connections to a self-acknowledged serial pedophile priest (strictly speaking, he is a pedophile). In connection with that I said I would mention a new documentary about the case and others.
The movie is called “Deliver Us From Evil,” and while it focuses mainly on Mahony and abuse in dioceses where he’s been bishop, Los Angeles and Stockton, it appears to take a wider view as well. I’m afraid that while the documentary may have some good elements—including the videos of Mahony’s depositions—it may also be flawed because of the sensationalism it tries.
In the trailer at least, Pope Benedict is pictured as if he was part of the cover-up, rather than an important element in the efforts to deal with the Scandal.
What’s most disturbing though, is how the film crew interviews Oliver O’Grady, the laicized priest who exchanged friendly letters with Mahony after having been discovered as a pervert in Stockton in the 1980s when Mahony was bishop there. O’Grady was convicted and deported back to Ireland where the documentarians found him. They interview him at a playground surrounded by children as he leers at them and talks about his sexual urges toward them. It’s creepy, disgusting, and irresponsible on the part of the film crew. It’s like taking an alcoholic to a bar to talk about how much he wants to drink the beers he sees. He may not indulge on camera, but what happens after the film crew leaves and the feelings remain?
I think it’s fine to do a documentary on the Scandal as long as we have a reasonable hope that it will be truthful and evenhanded and that it isn’t lurid and sensationalistic. I’m not sure we can say that of this movie.