“I wanted to become a priest and that changed in a day,” Waldrip said, referencing his abuse the day before his 13th birthday. “I felt that not only had I been violated by this priest, that I knew and loved, but I had been violated by God.”
In the U.S., 30 bishops have released the names of predator priests on their diocesan websites. Victims’ advocates continue to call for the Vatican to follow suit by releasing files and documentation of clergy sexual abuse. Doing so could allow victims to heal and gain closure, said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who has represented sexual abuse victims of more than 40 different priests.
Doyle said she believes the church’s inability for action has only further suppressed actions to stop sexual abuse. Last September, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., was found guilty of failing to tell authorities about a priest suspected of sexually exploiting children. Finn was the first U.S. bishop convicted of protecting a priest in a sexual abuse case. Finn remains in office.
“Pope Benedict left a convicted felon in office,” Doyle said.
For decades, it was standard procedure for church officials to keep abuse secret. And those years are explored in disturbing and dramatic detail in a new HBO documentary, “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” which went into broadcast rotation on the cable network a week ago.
It is directed by Oscar winner Alex Gibney and voiced by Hollywood stars including Bradley Cooper and Ethan Hawke. Also named in the credits is one of the narrators, prize-winning New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein, whose coverage of rampant abuse of deaf children at a school in Wisconsin became an international sensation.
The unifying claim of the documentary is that the Catholic Church, from the papacy to the smallest parish, has been focused on protecting the institution, not the youth.
In the documentary — as in California this month where retired Cardinal Roger Mahony was rebuked by the current archbishop of Los Angeles — only court-ordered releases of documents have enabled victims to trace what the church knew and when people with the power to call the police, defrock priests or reach out to victims, failed to act.
Almost every example in the film traces eventually to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Ratzinger. The Vatican did not respond to the filmmakers’ requests for interviews.
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