Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Synopsis: Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney exposes the abuse of power in the Catholic Church and a cover-up that winds its way from the row houses of Milwaukee Wisconsin, through the bare ruined choirs of Ireland's churches all the way to the highest office of the Vatican. By investigating the secret crimes of a charismatic priest who abused over 200 deaf children in a school under his control - the film shows the face of evil that lurks behind the smiles and denials of authority figures and institutions who believe that because they stand for good they can do no wrong.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Alex Gibney
Production: Independent Pictures
  Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
106 min


This program contains scenes which

some viewers may find disturbing.

When I first entered St John's,

I loved it.

The campus of that school

was beautiful.

Such magnificent stonework.

It was like a castle.

I loved that school.

Our school had a magnificent statue

of Jesus Christ

with his hands lovingly placed

on the heads of two children.

I could see that Jesus

loved children.

And the children

loved Jesus too.

My name is Gary Smith.

I was four in 1954 and I really

liked being at school.

I liked being in the dorm.

The dorm was cooler than being

at home with my parents,

because I didn't have

any siblings.

When I first got to

the school, I loved it,

because there were

so many children

around the same age as me

who I could play with

and they were good people,

it was a good group of friends.

In 1953, I was four years old.

I remember when I got there,

I couldn't stop crying.

Then, I was looking up at a nun,

she was wearing

her black-and-white robes.

I was looking at the nun

and my parents left.

Every morning, we'd have mass.

The priest would use incense

and the smell

would fill the room.

I felt like we were in heaven.

I wanted to be a Catholic,

like everyone else.

And so, when I was ten,

Father Murphy baptized me.

Murphy would hug children.

All the kids just loved him,

they always flocked to him.

He would play with the kids

and the nuns would stand around

and just watching and smiling.

I wanted Murphy's attention,

like all the other kids, I needed him.

He was like

a second father to me.

He had this ability

like the Pied Piper -

to just get all rats to follow him

and do whatever he wanted.

Father Murphy knew how to sign

and he could communicate

with all the kids.

He was a hearing man who could sign

and sign very well.

I remember looking at him

and thinking,

"Wow, that's

really impressive."

Lawrence Murphy was raised

in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

and entered the St Francis Seminary

in 1943.

After he was ordained

as a priest in 1950,

he moved next door on assignment

to St John's School For The Deaf.

He had a knack for public

speaking and fundraising

and, by 1963, he was promoted

to director of St John's.

After Father Murphy baptized me,

I felt proud,

I felt better.

I was excited and couldn't wait to have

my first communion when I was 12.

Later on, I got

into trouble at school.

I was mischievous and

the nuns would come and say,

"Go to Father's room."

And so, I did.

In the confessional booth,

there was a dividing wall.

But there was a little space

that you could see his face through.

So you could sign back and forth.

And he would bless you.

I filled out

the confession form.

The form listed stealing, lying,

sex and things like that.

I would mark things off

and turn it in.

Father Murphy looked at it and then

asked me really weird questions like,

"Have you been with other boys?"

I would say:

"I played with myself."

And he would ask

detailed questions,

like "How?" or

"What did you do?"

And then he said,

"OK. I want to see you

in my office this afternoon!"

So I said, "OK",

and left the booth,

and kneel to pray.

He asked me, "Have you been

playing with your penis?"

And I told him,


But he gave me one of his looks.

And it scared me. So I admitted

that, yeah, I play with myself.

He told me to pull down my pants

and to do it right there.

So I played with myself

for a little bit.

He watched me intently

until I was done.

Then, he told me

that God forgave me

and I felt like my sins

had been wiped away.

He could have been playing

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Alex Gibney

Philip Alexander "Alex" Gibney (born October 23, 1953) is an American documentary film director and producer. In 2010, Esquire magazine said Gibney "is becoming the most important documentarian of our time".His works as director include Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (winner of three Emmys in 2015), We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (the winner of three primetime Emmy awards), Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (nominated in 2005 for Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (short-listed in 2011 for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); Casino Jack and the United States of Money; and Taxi to the Dark Side (winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature), focusing on a taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed at Bagram Air Force Base in 2002. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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