Deliver Us From Evil

Dir: Amy Berg, 2006. Documentary.
Deliver Us From Evil

You don’t have to have or understand religion in order to understand spirituality. Most everyone has a source of reason or a spirit of life that feeds our quest for a healthy existence and is the foundation of our morals. Whether it comes from deities or an inner muse, every person who decided to remain a part of this world has their own way of defining purpose. Deliver Us From Evil deals with the corruption of such spirituality in the Catholic Church.

This is a brave and gut-wrenching documentary about the corruption of faith among the youth and families of several parishes in California. It touches on a sickening truth - that some years ago, the Catholic Church re-formed its guidelines which allowed a priest to get married and have children, as the resulting male sons would inherit his assets instead of the church. Now removed from the option of finding romantic adult peers, an alarming number of Catholic hierarchy, many of whom were sexually abused in childhood, now see children as their sexual peers.

Father Oliver O’Grady emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1970s and came to a parish in California. This documentary begins with him explaining his openness on the matter of his crimes, stating that he wants the film to be the most honest confession of his life. The documentary is a combination of interviews from many subjects, including the now adult victims and their families, members of the Catholic hierarchy, police officials, psychoanalysts, and O’Grady himself. The interviews from the victims and their families are by far the most unsettling, but in some instances, offer a glimmer of hope. Some victims have been able to hold onto their faith despite its early corruption. Others were not as lucky, including many of the parents who gave money, obedience, and trust to the church and O’Grady.

Director Amy Berg interviews O’Grady from Ireland, where he now resides as a free man after serving seven years of a sentence before being deported. She also interviews members of the hierarchy and police officials who either deny knowledge of O’Grady’s abuse or give no explanation to its solution. O’Grady admits that all members of his church were aware of his activities and simply moved him from parish to parish, many being an average of 54 miles away. Her interviews show a sort of delirium in O’Grady’s ability to even remember how many victims he had. Analysts and officials can’t trace the number either, but one makes a point to announce that his youngest victim was nine-months old.

You’d think that any moviegoer aware of the subject matter and content would steer clear of such a documentary, but behind the disgust and anguish it may inflict, there is something miraculous about these victims. Many of them will stop at nothing in order to pull together and fight back against their past. Some still have faith and some don’t. These are women and men all working together to raise awareness and request answers. Their bravest fight came in the form of a trip to the then current Pope in order to urge him to push toward a solution to the problem and demand that men accused of sexual abuse be punished and receive psychoanalytic care. The Pope and other members in Rome would not hear their voices, using armed men to request that they not even approach the gates. Still, they press on, and it is this message of justice and spirituality that is the light in a story filled with darkness.

Another lingering message is the one from O’Grady himself where he tells of his own experience of being sexually abused as a child, both by his priest and by members of his family. His story exposes a bitter cycle of abuse after abuse that still has been given no solution, not only in the church, but in common people as well. It is a documentary that not only people of faith should see, but everyone. Hopefully it will enlighten its viewers so that they may question the truth underlining decisions made by those in any form of power and recognize how those decisions could change society in the most unimaginable ways.


Deliver Us From Evil was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Mar 16, 2010 3:52pm
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