Imagine trying to fight for justice against a corrupt and abusive system when you literally have no voice to use to get your message across.
This is exactly the position that four deaf men, Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Pat Kuehn and Arthur Budzinski, found themselves in as they courageously struggled to free themselves from the atrocities of the past by warning others of the dangerous sexual predator lurking within their midst.
With the help of documentary film maker Alex Gibney, these four men, Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Pat Kuehn and Arthur Budzinski, bring to life and expose the secret crimes of Father Lawrence Murphy, who abused more than 200 deaf children during his tenure as the head priest of St Johns school for deaf children.
To many people, Father Murphy appeared to be both a caring and charismatic priest, whose fluent ability with sign language made him the perfect choice to run St Johns.
Yet to the boys of St Johns he was little more than a sexual predator, a wolf who would stalk their dormitories in the dead of the night, looking for the most vulnerable of their kin to abuse.
Often he would seek out those boys whose hearing parents refused to learn how to communicate directly with their children by learning sign language themselves.
This left the children he abused entirely at his mercy as they were unable to tell their parents or anyone else outside of the realms of the catholic school, about his constant abuse.
Despite each of them graduating from the school and doing their best to move on with their lives as adults, Terry, Gary, Pat and Arthur found that their common experiences of being abused at the hands of Father Murphy reunited them.
Only this time, instead of being afraid or unable to speak out, those same childhood experiences galvanized them into taking whatever action they could to make their community members aware that Father Murphy, who still ran the school for the deaf, wasn’t the godly leader he represented himself to be, but was instead a sexual predator who’d been lurking within their small community for decades.
Their campaign for the awareness of his abuses began with them making leaflets outing him as a child molester and placing them on the windscreen’s of cars parked around Murphy’s church.
Their actions became the first ever known case of a public protest to be held against clerical sex abuse.
The sex scandal they exposed within the Catholic Church later became known as the ‘Murphy Case.
As the documentary unfolds Gibney brings in the testimony of a former priest Father Sipes who had been conducting a 20 year study into the issues of sexuality and sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
Sipes states that in his experience and understandings of the way in which the church conducts itself that:
“The system of the Catholic Church selects, cultivates, protects, defends and produces sexual abusers”.
In fact, the problem of priests sexually abusing their congregations had become so bad, that by the 1960’s, long before any of their acts of barbarity were ever known to the broader public, the Catholic Church had itself, set up numerous secret ‘treatment centers’ for them.
An offending priest would be sent to one of these centers for a month and then be sent right back to his ever trusting flock who would be none the wiser as to where he’d been or why.
Once it became obvious that the ‘treatment centers’ were futile, the process of musical diocese began, during which time a pedophile priest, once caught, would be shipped off to another parish, to begin his debauchery anew with a fresh set of innocence at his feet.
This is a practice that continues today and it is a practice that men like Cardinal Ratzinger, who later went on to become Pope Benedict XVI, knew only too well.
According to Sipes, long before Cardinal Ratzinger became pope, he’d previously been in charge of reviewing and responding too, (hushing up) all reports of child sexual abuse by Catholic Priests from across the globe.
It may well have been under his decree that the game of musical priest first began.
Although this is a speculation that we’ll never know for certain, however, merely knowing what Pope Benedict’s former role within the Vatican actually was, definitely adds a whole new perspective as to why it was that he chose to become the first Pope in history to step down from papacy.
After all, his abdication occurred not long after the issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church first came to the public’s attention.
It certainly gives one pause for thought.
In fact, the entire power of this documentary lies within its ability to go beyond revealing the previously unacknowledged and mercenary practices of priests like Murphy’s abuse of deaf children under the catholic church system, by creating such an enormous pause for thought, due to the painfully honest testimonies of Terry, Gary, Pat and Arthur, that it completely strips away any possibility of defending the actions of priests like Murphy, who prey on vulnerable children.
The testimonies of these men leave absolutely no room what so ever for either the church or its lawyers to continue to cling to the erroneous belief that good intentions purify bad behaviour, all so known as “Noble Cause Corruption.”
It is has been this unyielding belief in “Noble Cause Corruption” that has allowed the catholic church to constantly insist that every act of atrocity committed by its priests be kept in house, covered up or paid off.
It has also been the precept behind its refusal to allow outside authority figures, such as the police, to have any involvement within such matters, as they believe that what they are doing is for the greater good, therefore any crimes they commit while serving the greater good are not just made null and void under god’s laws, but in much the same way that Jesus was said to turn water into wine, their acts of sexual abuse are transformed from being crimes into being acts of service.
They don’t need to have a mortal judge telling them what’s right and wrong when god’s already purified their actions.
Such a belief system only lend weight to Sipes assertions that the Church itself has become little more than both a breeding ground and playground for sexual predators who flourish under its protection.
There is little doubt that men such as Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Pat Kuehn and Arthur Budzinski, whose refusal to be silenced, ignored, marginalize and subjugated by the deceitful machinations of the Catholic Church and Father Murphy, but who instead chose to stand up and be counted by saying NO to the enforced silence that surrounded them as children, have saved many vulnerable children from enduring the same fate.
I thank them for speaking/signing their truths.
The whole world can hear you now.