(a “no grace for priest pedophilia” film review by Timothy J. Verret)
Watching BY THE GRACE OF GOD was like me having my wounds from priest sexual abuse opened and ripped apart yet again and, yet again, the film healed me, as well (BOTH!). Every situation and line from this film reached me in my deepest core, but there was no line that reached me deeper than the one spoken by a young man, who when facing the priest who sexually molested him, said, “You destroyed my idea of a father.” That line had me shedding tears of what my journey to understand a God as my Father has not always (if ever) been easy for me to understand. I, like this young man, had my idea of a father destroyed at a very young age and that still destroys me today. Am I ever gonna heal from this? I don’t know but “by the Grace of God.”
This film is a grueling depiction of cover-ups and denial and “let’s pretend this never happened so it will go away.” Worse yet, “we know this happened, but let’s send the priest to another church….that will solve this problem.” What NEVER goes away is the loss of childhood innocence ripped apart from priest pedophilia. What NEVER goes away is a church system that denies by covering up priest pedophilia, sending a priest pedophile to a different church for more priest pedophilia to take place. The three men in this film are my heroes! They spoke when I could not speak. They pursued legal action when I could not pursue legal action. They healed and allowed me to heal from a two-hours-and-twenty-minutes’ film. It’s not like I wanted my wounds opened and ripped apart yet again; it’s simply that I needed my wounds opened and ripped apart yet again so I could yet again heal them.
When the priest in charge of the priest pedophile had to do a press conference, he said in no uncertain terms that all would be resolved “by the Grace of God.” What a slap in the face to every single person who has been sexually abused by a priest! There is NO “by the Grace of God” where priest pedophilia is concerned. There is NO “by the Grace of God” for one who becomes an adult and cannot love, becomes an addict, and embarks on a life of resentment, anger, and often suicide. There is NO “by the Grace of God” when I am that one who cannot love (but trying), became an addict (but healing), and often attempted suicide (but not attempting). The “by the Grace of God” comes to me when I realize I can love yet again, I can heal from my addictions yet again, and I can never attempt suicide yet again because that was never the answer in the first place. The answer was to do what these three men in the film did, i.e., courageously look at this priest pedophilia that has hurt me and receive healing from it “by the Grace of God.”
Once again, I write these film reviews not for the technicality of reviewing a film. I write these film reviews that God most excellently and gracefully and perfectly times for me to see. These films come to me from God for a “perfect” healing that only God can do for me through The Holy Spirit of my Savior, Jesus Christ. And I will typically find the most healing from these films not from the film itself but from the Special Features that come with most DVDs. For this film, it was the Q&A between the director, Francois Ozon, and one of the true-to-life characters in the film and the priest acting as spokesperson for the priest pedophile in this film. When this priest speaks that this whole priest pedophilia is a “complicated issue,” the true-to-life character in the film tells the priest, “what’s complicated about a church that covered up priest pedophilia?” He actually got so angry that he stood up during the Q&A and told the priest that it was the church who was complicating something that was so simple, i.e., accept responsibility for the coverup and pay the financial compensation these victims of priest pedophilia deserve! And he’s right! There is nothing at all complicated about this priest pedophilia! There is nothing so complicated about a church admitting they were DEAD WRONG in their actions and the least (and, I mean, the VERY least) they can do is financially compensate these victims! And God knows priest pedophilia has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with financial compensation but has EVERYTHING to do with taking responsibility for a church’s irresponsibility.
Don’t know if you noticed but I felt the need to capitalize some words above and use exclamation points! (yet again). I did that because, yes, I AM ANGRY!!!! I am angry that my childhood innocence was stolen from me, that I grew up not knowing what a father really is supposed to be, that I grew up hating myself and wished myself dead so many times. I have every right to be angry about that. But what I don’t have the right to be angry about is living in and acting out from that anger. I have the right to forgive the priest who sexually molested me. I have the right to discover a Father God unlike this priest and my own father who loves me unconditionally. I have the right to finally speak about these things, holding nothing back, because the forgiveness of this priest is the healing I need; it’s the gift God “gives” me “for” my healing.
God doesn’t give a free gift “by the Grace of God” for a church and its priest pedophile who will NOT admit they were wrong. How can God give His Grace to anyone who denies responsibility for sex crimes against children? There were two (not three, as in this film) men crucified on both sides of Jesus Christ. There was one who told Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God. This one basically was telling Jesus, “I do not accept that You are the Son of God unless you get me off this cross!” The other one admitted that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and asked Jesus if he could be with Him in Heaven, to which Jesus agreed. The church and the priest pedophile in this film are the one on the side of Jesus who do NOT accept that Jesus is the Son of God, because they cannot admit that what they have done against children is criminal. I am the other one on the cross asking Jesus to please remember me when He gets to Heaven. And Jesus has agreed that, yes, indeed, “Truly I tell you, Timothy, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
“Thank you, Jesus, for healing me through this film (and through all films You have me watch) and allowing me to be with You in Paradise….by the Grace of God.”