MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD investigates the secret crimes of Father Lawrence Murphy, a charismatic Milwaukee priest who abused more than 200 Deaf children in a school under his control. The film documents the first known public protest against clerical sex abuse in the U.S., which led to a case that spanned three decades and ultimately resulted in a lawsuit against the pontiff himself. The investigation helped uncover documents from the secret Vatican archives that show the Pope, who must operate within the mysterious rules of the Roman Curia, as both responsible and helpless in the face of evil.
At the heart of the film is a small group of heroes – Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Arthur Budzinksi and Bob Bolger. These courageous Deaf men set out to expose the priest who had abused them and sought to protect other children, making their voices heard. Gibney uses the voices of actors Chris Cooper, Ethan Hawke, Jamey Sheridan and John Slattery to tell the stories of men abused by Murphy. However, it is the faces and expressions of the courageous Deaf men that illustrate the indelible effect Murphy continues to have on their lives.
In addition to the Murphy case, MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD spotlights similar sex abuse cases in Ireland and Italy, and highlights the horrific actions of Marcial Maciel Degollado, a prominent church fundraiser and ruthless sex criminal beloved by Pope John Paul II. The film also reveals that in 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger – now His Holiness, Benedict the 16th – ordered that every sex abuse case involving a minor come through his desk, essentially establishing him as the most knowledgeable person in the world regarding priestly sexual abuse of minors.
Alex Gibney, the founder of and leading creative force behind Jigsaw Productions, crafts documentaries that take an unflinching look at the political landscape of America. He wrote, directed and produced the 2008 HBO special “Taxi to the Dark Side,” which received the Academy Award® for Best Documentary. He also wrote, produced and directed the 2006 Oscar®-nominated film “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” which received the Independent Spirit Award and the WGA Award. Gibney’s other films as director include “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” “Casino Jack and the United States of Money” and HBO’s “My Trip to Al-Qaeda.” He is a regular blogger for the Atlantic, and has also written for Newsweek, the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the New Republic.
HBO Documentary Films presents a Jigsaw Productions in association with Wider Film Projects and Below The Radar Films MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD; a film by Alex Gibney; director of photography, Lisa Rinzler; music by Ivor Guest and Robert Logan; edited by Sloane Klevin; producer, Kristen Vaurio; co-producer Sloane Klevin, executive producers, Lori Singer and Jessica Kingdon; producers, Alex Gibney and Alexandra Johnes; producers, Jedd Wider and Todd Wider; written and directed by Alex Gibney. For HBO: supervising producer, Sara Bernstein; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.