Review: 'Mea Maxima Culpa' looks at Catholic Church's abuse cover-up

As horrifying as it is to note, the timing of the HBO documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," which premieres Monday night, could not have been better if divine intervention were involved.

Last week, the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released documents chronicling how Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and other church officials managed to thwart investigations into the sexual abuse of hundreds of local children to protect the accused priests.

To which this film by Oscar winner Alex Gibney essentially says, "If you think that's bad, watch this."

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In "Mea Maxima Culpa," Gibney documents a decades-old effort to protect and in some instances seemingly aid sexually predatory priests, a conspiracy that the film argues, snakes through every level of the Roman Catholic hierarchy including the current and past popes.

The film, which debuted briefly in theaters last year and is nominated for a Writers Guild of America award, is not perfect. Eagerly attempting to explore every avenue of the scandal, the story wobbles at times under the weight of its own ambitions, making U-turns in chronology and using some of the more regrettable techniques of the modern doc, including an overly manipulative soundtrack and unnecessarily creepified reenac...


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