Mea Maxima Culpa made its debut on HBO last week. It’s a devastating documentary on sex abuse inside the Catholic Church and includes an amazing detail. Did you have any idea how this scandal involving the Church actually started?
It started with a group of deaf men (who’d been sexually abused by the same priest as kids), hanging out later in life, smoking pot, and while smoking, they decide to take on the mission of seeing that priest defrocked in order to protect any more children from what they’d suffered. But after the Church did nothing to respond to their allegations, and after the courts said the statute of limitations had expired on the crime, the men put “wanted” leaflets with the priest’s picture on cars in front of the Milwaukee Cathedral. This act is what eventually blows open the doors of silence on the rampant sex child abuse going on virtually untouched and unabated, probably for centuries, within the Catholic Church, even though the Church knew the extent of the problem to the point of estimating the financial cost of settling the global cases as over $1 billion. Those deaf guys from Milwaukee eventually won the first of those settlements and created a landslide that has already paid out more than double the original Vatican estimate.
Don’t you find it strange that the original reefer madness was actually launched by the Vatican in the Middle Ages, when they made possession of cannabis proof of witchcraft and punishable by burning at the stake? And now cannabis has struck a nearly mortal blow to the Vatican as these child abuse cases have devastated the credibility of an institution already struggling to hold onto its flocks in the industrialized world.
And now today we hear the first Pope in 600 years is going to resign immediately after surviving a huge scandal involving his butler leaking secret documents to the press, a disclosure supposedly intended to purge deep corruption inside the Vatican? Or did I miss something?
During my freelance career, I did one story for the New York Times, by the way. It was on the National Theater for the Deaf. I think even then they clued me in on the fact that pot was popular in the deaf community.