HBO Hates Popes, Loves Kennedys

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world on Monday morning by announcing he would resign at the end of February. For Catholics, there was sorrow and there was gratitude for a Holy Father who taught with such distinction and worked with such care to safeguard the church’s theological traditions.

But there are those people who hate the Catholic Church, and they are ecstatic. Take documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, a man who clearly thinks he is holier than the Pope. He told The Daily Beast that Benedict is a “criminal.” This helps explain why he’s made a documentary for HBO, the home of toxic God-haters like Bill Maher.

Gibney’s new film “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” centers on a heart-breaking story of a Wisconsin priest named Lawrence Murphy who mercilessly abused deaf boys, and how he was never officially removed from the priesthood. It is a stain, a blemish, and inexcusable.

It is equally inexcusable to distort the story to advance an anti-Catholic narrative. That is bigotry.

Within the first 15 minutes, Gibney displays his complete contempt for facts. He brings in a supposed expert and bitter former priest named Richard Sipe, touting a “25-year study” claiming that “at any one time, no more than 50 percent of Roman Catholic priests were practicing celibacy.” On screen, you can even see his claim in print, accompanied with the words “I estimate.” Gibney does not explain to the viewer in 2013 that Sipe’s so-called “study” ended in 1985, or even how Sipe arrived at this fantasy of an “estimate.”

This should give you a taste for the Sipe worldview, ignored by Gibney. In a 1995 book, he compared Catholic celibacy to the Nazis – “everything fits with Nazi theory and practice”-- and blamed celibacy for the Holocaust. “I cannot forget that the people and forces that generated Nazism and the Holocaust were all products of one Christian culture and the celibate power system.”

This is Gibney’s and HBO’s expert.

Gibney continues the assault. He’s told The Daily Beast that not only is the pope a crook, but “What’s peculiar about the Roman Catholic Church is that at the heart of its doctrine is a lie – the lie of forced celibacy.” Every vow of celibacy is forced, and a lie? This man needs to be checked for rabies.

Gibney, like his hero Sipe, believes the Catholic Church must “evolve” into the modern age and renounce its condemnation of masturbation, contraception, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and premarital sex, proving he fundamentally knows nothing about Catholic dogma. (Hint: You don’t “evolve” from it.)

The country and especially the Catholic faithful are right to be outraged that abusive priests were not removed from the priesthood, but were instead shuffled to other churches to begin another cycle of abuse. But Gibney again overdoses by bringing in another hanging judge, Rev. Thomas Doyle, who slanders the entire Church by declaring that some bishops’ previous attitude against turning their priests over to civil authorities was so corrupt that “I don’t know what they would have done if there were a slew of murders. ”

Bringing this kind of lurid, factually unsupported conspiracy theorizing to the entire Catholic Church, besmirching every priest and every bishop and every cardinal and every pope as if it were a nonfictional “DaVinci Code” – welcome to HBO.

This is the big picture of the morally upside-down HBO documentary unit: Pope Benedict is portrayed as a vicious crook, but Ted Kennedy and his brothers are portrayed as secular saints.

Don’t take my word for it. Los Angeles Times TV critic Mary McNamara was a fan of the Gibney screed: “The message of ‘Mea Maxima Culpa’ is clear: No member of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is innocent in this almost unbelievably ubiquitous wave of abuse, and certainly not the man who sits in his cloak of infallibility at its head.”

Then there was McNamara’s review of “Teddy: In His Own Words” in 2009. “[B]iography quickly vanishes into mythology....much more tribute than analysis....At its worst, the film can be blindly sentimental. Kennedy is portrayed as a man driven by devotion to service; base catalysts like personal or political ambition simply don't come up. Although the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick is discussed, it is far more quickly dismissed by the film than it has been by many Americans.”

On HBO, over imagery of a priest holding up the Eucharistic host, Gibney explained that the problem with Catholics is “noble cause corruption,” that somehow abusive priests could turn every perversion “into a holy act.” But for the Left, their noble cause is never corrupt, no matter how reckless, vicious, and dishonest their accusations are in the feverish pursuit of “reforming” the Catholic Church in their own Bill Maher-friendly image.