Time Out Melbourne

Watching three deaf men tell their stories in this angry, heavyweight doc about child abuse in the Catholic Church, you realise how incredibly powerful and beautiful sign language can be. There’s a sign – putting one clenched fist in front of the other over your mouth – that expresses forced silence or powerlessness. It speaks a thousand words. The men were victims of an American priest, Lawrence Murphy, who worked at a boarding school for deaf children between 1950 and 1974. A wolf entrusted with the care of lambs, he sexually abused 200 boys.

The case has been widely reported but this is still an important film, laying out who knew what, and when. It’s chilling: the conspiracy of silence goes all the way to the Vatican. The first complaint against Father Murphy was made in 1958, but company policy in the church was to shelter their own. So instead of handing suspected priests over to the police, they left children to suffer in silence. The three men began campaigning to out Murphy as a paedophile in 1973, when accusing a priest was like pointing the finger at God Himself. They’re heroes.

By Cath Clarke   |  

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God details

Length: 102 minutes

Country of origin: USA/Canada/UK

Year of production: 2012

Classification: MA15+ - Under 15s must be accompanied by parent

Showing 21 Mar 2013-02 May 2013

Director: Alex Gibney

Cast: Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery, Chris Cooper

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