'Deliver Us From Evil' is a heartbreaking look at broken trust
By Bill White, Seatle PI, November 10, 2006
"Deliver Us From Evil," a documentary on Father Oliver O'Grady, whose crimes as a sexual predator were covered up for nearly a
decade by the Catholic Church, is such a level-headed, even-handed treatment of a controversial subject that it makes most other
documentaries look like temper tantrums.
Director Amy Berg, a former CNN reporter who covered the sex-abuse scandals of the Boston priesthood in 2002, presents not only a
frightening portrait of a disassociated criminal but shows the price paid by his victims and their families. It is a heartbreaking story
of betrayed trust, broken faith and the misuse of privilege.
The interviews with O'Grady are disturbingly candid. He sees his actions not as criminal, but as a mere compromising of priestly
ideals. His superiors are no less frightening. The depositions of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony and Monsignor James Cain are as
evasive as those of any mobster.
Mahony, claiming that sexual urges toward prepubescent children were not cause to dismiss a priest from the clergy, simply moved O'Grady
from parish to parish, keeping him one step ahead of the law.
Berg films the families of the victims in real space. They are not talking heads, but real people. Over the course of the film, a
domestic drama unfolds that is unbearably moving: O'Grady is described by the wife of an abused child as "the closest thing to
God that we knew." Her husband adds, in a tearful rage, that "he was here reading the Bible in the morning and raping my 5-year-old child
One of the most profoundly sad images is that of two young women, who had traveled to the Vatican to plead their case, faithfully
genuflecting upon leaving a church after being denied an audience with church authorities.
In 1993, after pleading guilty to 14 counts of sexual abuse with minors, O'Grady served seven years in a California state
penitentiary. He was paroled in 2000, and quietly deported to Ireland, where he lived undisturbed until this film put an end to
his obscure existence. He is currently rumored to have fled Ireland, and is suspected to be hiding in France or Canada.