Church blame in the frame

Eureka Street

Frank Brennan February 28, 2013

Last night I attended the opening night of the Big Picture Film Festival in Sydney. The festival is the brainchild of the Reverend Bill Crews who sees a place for film enhancing the community’s commitment to social justice.

On the very eve of Pope Benedict’s last day in office, the program included the Australian premiere of the American documentary about clerical sexual abuse Silence in the House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa followed by a panel discussion with Tom Keneally, Geraldine Doogue and myself. It was a very confronting and draining night, particularly for me, the one Catholic priest in the audience.

Crews introduced the festival declaring that the common theme of all films chosen for the week was ‘Hope’. For the next 90 minutes the audience took in the relentless and overwhelming portrayal of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church presented by producer Alex Gibney, focusing on the horrendous case of Fr Lawrence Murphy, who abused up to 200 children at a school for the deaf in Milwaukee.

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