** MEA MAXIMA CULPA: Exposing The Falsehoods of HBO’s New Anti-Catholic Documentary ** Film Trumpets Debunked 1997 Ireland ‘Smoking Gun’ Letter, Blames Vatican for Rape by Irish Priest Walsh

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God :: HBO's anti-Catholic Film Exposed

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God :: Alex Gibney's claim of a "smoking gun" isn't

[Click here for the complete index of our review of Mea Maxima Culpa.]

A letter that is not 'smoking'

In seeking to portray the Catholic Church as callous to the issue of clergy sex abuse, Alex Gibney's Mea Maxima Culpa airs a blatant falsehood about a 1997 letter written by a Vatican official to Irish bishops. Gibney suggests that the letter was an effort by the Vatican to block reporting abusive priests to police.

While claiming the letter is a "smoking gun," Gibney asserts that the 1997 missive "overruled attempts by archbishops to report sex abuse to the police."

One cannot help but wonder if Gibney even read the letter in question. In fact, neither the words "police" nor "law enforcement" ever appear anywhere in the letter. The missive was simply an important reminder to bishops that it is imperative that they closely follow the protocols of Canon Law when disciplining abusive priests. If they do not, the letter warns, they may undermine their own efforts to remove priests by giving accused priests recourse to appeal their cases to The Holy See.

Most importantly, there is nothing in the letter that comes even close to saying "Don't call the police." [Read the actual letter for yourself.]

In addition, the claim that the letter was a "smoking gun" has even been debunked by "liberal" Church critics.

This bogus "smoking gun" letter claim originally surfaced in January 2011, when the news of the letter first surfaced. See: "Hit-and-Run: Media Slams Vatican With Bogus 'Smoking Gun' Story" (Jan. 2011).

The bottom line: Gibney's claim of a "smoking gun" letter is silly.

A monstrous rape, and HBO blames the Vatican

Gibney's film also attempts to claim that the Vatican is "fundamentally responsible" for a 1994 rape committed in Ireland by the notorious serial former pedophile priest Tony Walsh.

Indeed, Walsh committed abominable crimes for well over a decade and may have had "more than 40 victims." Yet an interview subject in the film attempts to lay blame on the Vatican for the rape of a teenage boy which was committed while Walsh was appealing his dismissal from the priesthood for previous misconduct.

The film claims that Walsh committed the 1994 rape of a boy "at his grandfather's funeral." Yet here are two important facts that the film omits:

  • Walsh did not preside at the said funeral.
  • The rape occurred after the funeral in the restroom of a local pub.

The sad truth of the matter is this: Whether or not Walsh was still a priest would not have hindered his ability to enter an Irish pub and commit heinous acts.

While Church officials in Ireland admittedly did not handle the atrocious crimes by Walsh as best it should have, to pin Walsh's 1994 rape of a boy on the Vatican is a stretch, to say the least.

In fact, a lot of the blame can be placed squarely on the Irish police (or "garda," as it is called). It was twice aware of crimes committed by Walsh in 1991, but it did not arrest him. [See the chapter about Tony Walsh from Ireland's 2009 Murphy Report, in which Walsh is given the pseudonym "Fr. Jovito."] If the police had arrested him, the 1994 rape likely would have been prevented!

Again, Gibney's Mea Maxima Culpa falls short when standing up to the facts it presents.

[Click here for the complete index of our review of Mea Maxima Culpa.]


  1. Delphin says:

    Hey- he resigned as a priest before he committed his crime, but don't let the truth get in the way of a good Catholic-bashing headline.



  2. Roderick says:

    I have known many priests in my lifetime.  I developed close friendships with some.  Not one of the priests, not a single one was without serious issues related to sex. This is anecdotal of course. However, the studies show anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of priest suffer from a sexual dysfunction.  The idiocy of priestly celibacy will continue be the cause of so many sexually dysfunctional men being drawn to the priesthood.  Any man from teenager even into old age,can attest to the incredibly power force the sex drive is.   Masturbation, viewing of porn and sexual affairs of one variety or another is rampant among priests.    

  3. Delphin says:

    Rod (pardon the pun) has aptly described the sexual dysfunctions that plague the homosexual male population.

    It will surely be perceived as cruel to confuse or challenge him with any facts.

  4. Rod says:

    All the whining by us catholics everytime someone challenges the teachings of the church is well, pathetic.  When you think about it, the "sins" that the church hierarchy harps on and on about all are related to sex.  I know how priests like to mock those that say "oh, what would a bunch of celibate males know about sex?"  However, this cliche contains more than a grain of truth.  Naivete and immaturity about sexual matters is common among priests.  They just know that unless you are holding your nose and getting it over with quickly for procreation purposes only, then it is sin.  The fact is this, 40 to 70 percent of priests are homosexual and many of them virgins.  Truth is, they don't know what they are talking about when it comes to sexual matters.