Deliver Us From Evil
A review by Nigel Leaves.
A meeting of my local SOFiA group had been scheduled to listen to the French author and philosopher, Michel Onfray, discuss his book The Atheist Manifesto. Unfortunately, at the last minute the lecture was cancelled, so we decided to view the documentary film Deliver Us From Evil at a local cinema.
As I was driving to the cinema the news broadcast included a pronouncement from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney that any politician who voted for stem-cell research in a forthcoming debate in parliament must realise that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the Church. Put simply, vote for stem-cell research and you might find yourself excommunicated or refused Holy Communion (amounts to the same thing!). Here we go again, I mused, conservative clerics denying people the right to think and act as adults. Controlling the minds and hearts of people the ultimate power trip. Little did I realize that the next two hours would show the Church to be even more interested in its own preservation at the expense of those it alleges to serve.
Deliver Us From Evil is a film everyone must see. And for those who still view the Church as an agent for good, then they have to confront the sinister deceits and lies that permit it to protect evil doers in its name. Amy Berg tells the story as it is, without any voice-over commentary, allowing the viewer to make up their own mind as to the moral status of the Church. There can be only one conclusion it has a serious cancer that needs removal.
The film is the true story of Father Oliver O’Grady, a Catholic priest who molested, abused and raped countless boys and girls during his ministry in many parishes in California. The film is not only shocking for the interviews with O’Grady (who voluntarily participated in the film and now lives openly in Ireland) the heart-wrenching testimonies of his victims, but for the cover-up by Cardinal Mahoney, the Archdiocese of California and the Vatican (it is alleged the Pope turned a blind eye in investigating the abuses). The film is both chilling and disturbing and as a reviewer puts it will shake you to the marrow. Everyone who came out of the cinema was either silent, angry or in tears. The film evoked a deep sense of rage at religion and the Catholic Church’s defence of its hierarchy at the expense of its children. Even more worrying was the sight of O’Grady back in Ireland freely walking the streets and peering into children’s playgrounds. If I had been wearing my clerical collar and despite being an Anglican (not Catholic) priest, it would have been justifiable for those at the cinema to pour abuse at me as a representative of organized religion.
I’m not easily shocked but this film was extremely harrowing. If you think you can defend institutional Christianity this film will take you to the edge.