Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This was one difficult film to watch, but a lot like a horrific car crash it’s damn near impossible to tear your eyes away from the screen when watching Director Amy Berg’s incredibly unsettling documentary ‘Deliver us from Evil’, a film which chronicles the molestation of children by a particular Catholic priest and the heinous cover up that follows.

Father Oliver O’Grady was a stranger in a strange land when he left his native Ireland to take over a parish in Lodi California back in 1971, but fortunately for Father O’Grady there was a country woman attending his church by the name of Marie Joyno, who along with her husband Bob showed some extreme kindness to the priest allowing him to stay in their home and teaching him the ways of this great nation of ours while he adjusted to life in the United States. Father O’Grady repaid this kindness that was shown to him by the Joyno’s by leading the family in prayer and repeatedly molesting and raping their six year old daughter Anna. Good looking’ out Father O’Grady. The tragedy of this particular event is that the Joyno’s didn’t know about the abuse to their daughter until years later, after the Father O’Grady showed up in the newspaper after being arrested for molesting a bunch more children, after being moved to his FIFTH parish by the California Archdiocese for molesting children.

The string of complaints levied against O’Grady are lengthy, and even more so when we recognize that the vast majority of abuse victims keep the crimes committed against them to themselves for various reasons, be it fear, recrimination, shame or they just want to forget that it ever happened. But in this documentary, as we talk to the victims who lives have been completely destroyed, and the families of the victims who have been betrayed in a way that few of us could begin to understand, Father O’Grady isn’t the one on trial here. That privilege Berg has reserved for the Catholic Church. You see Oliver O’Grady already knows who and what he is and he doesn’t make any substantial efforts to defend himself. One of the things that is unique about ‘Deliver us

from Evil’ is that unlike other ‘True Crime’ style documentaries where we have to theorize and suppose about the perpetrators, who they, are what could have possibly been their motivations, Berg has unprecedented and unrestricted access to O’Grady who explains quite clearly and quite eloquently, as one would expect a man with his level of education and ability to communicate to be able to do, the atrocities he’s committed against numerous children for a number of years. It is explained that so desperate was O’Grady to get to his marks, that he would seduce the parents of the children if necessary, just to get his way. It’s even more troublesome to see the elderly O’Grady, now deported for his crimes and nothing more, peacefully living his life back in his native Ireland, still torturing victims, though he delusionally thinks he's helping them, by writing them letters of suspect apology.

As reprehensible a man that Oliver O’Grady unarguably happens to be, the worst blight is levied upon the Cardinal Roger Mohoney and his number two Monsignor Cain and the blatant mistruths they funneled about their knowledge, or claims of lack of knowledge in knowing about O’Grady and what he had been accused of. In essence, they are delivering a blatant message that the destructive actions of one criminally ill priest is worth more than the lives of hundreds of little catholic children. Beliefs that are supported through interviews with Frank Keating who was hired by the Catholic Church itself to advise on these matters, but resigned due to the various roadblocks tossed his way, as well as Former Priest Thomas Doyle who also resigned amidst the backwards way of thinking that is intimated stretches all the way to the nether reaches of the Vatican itself.

The worst of it all is the damage done to the victims and the family of the victims. Watching Bob Joyno’s pure unrestrained rage at what happened to his daughter is truly heart breaking, made more so because there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. Despite the fact that the Catholic Church will be paying out lawsuits for the next millennia, no amount of money can cure what was done to these poor people and it’s extremely painful to watch and it shakes your faith. Or perhaps it strengthens it as we see clear examples of both in this excellently produced and well told tragic story.

Is this story one-sided? Yes it is, mostly because the accusers made sure that they were unavailable for this story using legal reasons as an excuse. To that end I also realize that I have been thoroughly manipulated by Amy Berg into forming a definite and obvious opinion about the California Archdiocese. The actions of this particular Archdiocese is about as far from God, or at least a god I want anything to do with, as conceivably possible. The solution to the problem seemed like such a simple one and this story asks us, in an uncompromising way, why was it so difficult to put the children first?

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