Deliver Us from Evil
This is an angsty documentary exploration of the true story of Father Oliver O’Grady, who travelled to various areas in the 1970s and was well known, trusted and lived by his parishioners. However, O’Grady’s popularity and calm demeanour hid a serial paedophile who used his position to lure and abuse countless children. Though disgusting enough, what is perhaps even more chilling is that the Catholic church were aware of his activities during this time and helped to actively suppress them. Film maker Amy Berg exposes a horrific level of corruption in a massively powerful and influential organisation, and uses heart wrenching and often sickening first hand accounts from the priest’s victims, interspersed with an interview with O’Grady himself.
This is a fascinating if hard to watch film, its subject matter is one that always evokes strong emotions and O’Grady himself is a chilling figure, clearly an exceptionally disturbed individual, yet with a plethora of human frailties of his own. In one harrowing moment he is deeply upset by the trouble and torment he has caused to his wife and daughter. The church covered for him for thirty years, a frankly terrifying discovery and what is notable is that while the priest is able to look back on his actions as being very much in the past, something he deeply regrets but yet is able to distance himself from, the damage done to his victims is still fresh, blighting their own lives and relationships. That high up members of the Catholic hierarchy somehow felt that this “problem” would vanish over the years rather than leaving scars and anger that needed to be confronted and brought into the open is staggering. But then their actions are exposed for the indefensible cowardice that they are.
This is an extremely powerful documentary about a subject that needed to be brought to wider attention and Amy Berg is to be congratulated for handling it with great skill and sensitivity. Though it is uncomfortable viewing, it is enlightening and disturbing by equal measure and gives some sense of hope for the church in the redeeming figure of Father Thomas Doyle, who offers apologies and commiseration, fully aware that this church is rotten to the core.