Deliver Us from Evil


Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 
Deliver Us from Evil
      Cain                                O'Grady                            Mahony     
Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 

Laura:
Japanese American Bob Jyono was so enamored of the Irish Marie, he converted to Catholicism in order to marry her.  When they moved to California, the became very friendly with local parish priest Father Oliver O’Grady, who was Irish like Marie. 'Father Ollie' was taken into the Jyono family, frequently invited to stay overnight, in order to give him a break from the rigors and constant responsibilities of the priesthood.  Twenty-five years later, though the Jyonos discovered that the man they trusted spent an inordinate amount of his time on another mission - sexually abusing small children, including the repeated raping of their then five-year old daughter - in director Amy Berg's "Deliver Us from Evil."

While most associate the Catholic priest abuse scandal with Boston and Cardinal Bernard Law, investigative reporter Amy Berg discovered that the abuses were far more extensive under Los Angles Archbishop Roger Mahony, who to this day is spending $2 million a month in law suits to hide the trails of the 550 priests charged within his Archdiocese (there were 85 charged under Law's).  Even now, Berg tells us, the Church, right up to the current Pope, prioritizes its own over innocent children, children whose entire families have been spiritually and psychologically shattered.

Oliver O’Grady was the most monstrous of the offenders shielded by Mahony, who promised law officers and parishioners that he would put O'Grady into counseling but would turn around and shuttle him into another California parish fifty miles away.  The outwardly charming O'Grady fooled parents as he sexually molested hundreds of young girls and boys, even stooping to rape a nine month old infant. The man even got to some kids by seducing their mothers.

It is amazing that Berg got O'Grady on camera (he agreed because he wanted to support criticism of Mahony) and the man's utter delusion is jaw dropping. He says that what he did 'shouldn't have happened,' then honestly, and too perkily, answers that small children, particularly those in swim suits or underwear, excite him. The man served five years and was deported to Ireland, where he lives freely in Dublin, a city unaware of his past.  O'Grady is shot walking the streets, peering into school yards.

But if O'Grady doesn't seem to have a clue just how heinous and resonant his crimes have been, the behavior exhibited by Mahony and his right hand man Monsignor Cain is equally vile.  These leaders of the Church are shown in depositions as squirming cowards with conveniently short memory.  Mahony is particularly despicable, protesting too much over the 'flowery' and 'overly effusive' language used to thank him in a letter from O'Grady, a man he purports to barely remember.  Cain observes that O'Grady's behavior didn't seem perverse because he was accused of abusing a girl.  A boy would have been a different matter.  

Father Tom Doyle gives one hope however.  Here is a priest unpopular within his own Church because he fights for abuse survivors.  'The only place Jesus Christ ever got mad,' he reminds us, 'was in a Church.'  Christ was heroic and a rebel, Doyle proclaims, and he is the one priest we see following the man's path.  In a climatic moment, Doyle accompanies the adult Ann Jyono and fellow survivor Nancy Sloan to the Vatican for a visit in hopes of getting recognition of the Church's sins against them, but they are turned away by Vatican guards.  After all media words to the contrary, the Church continues to thwart attempts at real healing.

Berg's reach includes getting to the root of the problem.  Clergy abuse psychologist Mary Gail Frawley O’Dea explains the shocking statistic that 10% of St. John's Seminary graduates went on to become abusers thusly - these men are asked to become celibate at a very early age, so that when sexual urges arise, they turn back to the time right beforehand - their childhood essentially.  A Catholic Church historian reveals that early clergy were not celibate.  The requirement only arose when the Church realized it was losing priest's inheritances to their eldest sons.

In the end, one can deduce from Berg's documentary that the Catholic Church is driven by money and power, those oft described roots of all evil and corruption.

B+

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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