This is a powerful, moving, and stirring film that will make you very angry at the Catholic Church, for it details—sometimes graphically—the sexual abuse of children by priests that was rife in Poland. The abuse is only now being put in front of people by this new movie, “Tell No One”. It’s two hours long, free on YouTube (below), and I found it mesmerizing. Victims, now grown, relate their abuse in detail, sometimes confront their aged abusers, and recount their frustrating and futile attempts to get the Church to take the abuse seriously. As we’ve seen in so many places, the Church just transferred the dog-collar rapists from one parish to another, most of them never receiving any serious punishment or even sanctions. The heartening thing is the tenacity of the survivors to get justice—or at least get their story told—and the sympathy of those who helped them, and of the two men who made this film.
One thing that was driven home to me is how easily these priests could convince children to participate in their depredations, for, especially in Catholic Poland, a priest is almost a Christ figure (one person even mentions that). And you can see first hand how the abuse had lifelong effects on the victims: trauma, anorexia, and suicide attempts.
And this is the Church—supposedly God’s rock on Earth. It’s infuriating. The perfidy of this institution is infuriating and shameful.
If you’ve seen the Oscar-winning movie, “Spotlight”, set in Boston, this is a complementary movie, for it’s a documentary and also allows you listen to the victims. You can see the pain in their eyes and hear it in their voices as they tell their stories.
“Tell No One,” a film financed through a crowdfunding campaign, was released on YouTube on Saturday. By Monday, the documentary had more than 8 million views.
It triggered soul searching in a country where there is no higher authority than the Catholic Church and its clergy.
“Why do priests commit such crimes? Why did the bishops not react as they should? Why, for years, did a conspiracy of silence prevail among the clergy?” journalist Andrzej Gajcy asked Monday on the news site Onet, voicing some of the uncomfortable questions confronting many Poles.
The primate of Poland has thanked the brothers who made the film, Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, for their “courage.”
“I apologize for every wound inflicted by the people of the church,” Archbishop Wojciech Polak said Saturday.
The Vatican’s ambassador to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, also expressed sympathy for abuse survivors on behalf of both himself and Pope Francis.
One more bit of data:
In March, Polish church authorities said they had recorded cases of 382 clergymen who abused 625 victims under the age of 18 since 1990.
The documentary presents new evidence that priests who were known to be pedophiles were transferred between parishes instead of pushed out of the church or referred to police.