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Frontline - Hand of God
Frontline - Hand of God
Actors: Paul Cultera, Joe Cultrera, Father John B. McCormack, Richard Lennon, Josephina Cultrera
Director: Joe Cultrera
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 30min


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Movie Details

Actors: Paul Cultera, Joe Cultrera, Father John B. McCormack, Richard Lennon, Josephina Cultrera
Director: Joe Cultrera
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 04/03/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Disturbing record of a disturbing time
Jean E. Pouliot | Newburyport, MA United States | 10/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The priest-pedophile crisis that roiled the Roman Catholic Church starting in 2002 left rather few on the sidelines. On one side were victims, their families, their lawyers and those who felt betrayed and alienated by the Church hierarchy. On the other side were steadfast Church supporters, the bishops and their legal teams. The multi-billion dollars of settlements that came out of the hundreds of cases brought through the legal system have nearly-bankrupted the Church in America, and forced it to sell the patrimony -- lands, schools and churches -- purchased at great price buy generations of loyal immigrants and their children.

Joe Cultera has reduced the crisis to manageable terms, by focusing on the abuse suffered by his brother, Paul. Born into a staunch and all-encompassing Catholic culture in Salem, Mass, Paul and many like him were perfect targets for sexual predators. Raised to believe that priests were above criticism, they found it nearly-impossible to report their experiences. Through archival footage, home moves and symbolic images (such as altar boy pictures washing down the drain), Joe Cultera depicts the horror of the events, the scandalous lack of interest of the hierarchy and the rage of betrayal. Cultera interviews his own parents and siblings, including Paul. Their sense of loss and nearly complete alienation from their Church become almost palpable. Cultera also manages a number of guerrilla journalistic interviews with some of the main episcopal enablers of the abuse, including John McCormack, the idiot-grinning bishop of the Diocese of Manchester (NH) and the pit bull Richard Lennon, now bishop of the diocese of Cleveland. The film culminates in the closing Mass at the Cultera's parish church, sold to pay the skyrocketing costs of the abuse settlements..

I attended a screening in Salem, along with the director and his parents. At a Q&A session after the film, the sense of indignation and rage was intense and disturbing. Perhaps justly, there was no forgiveness for those who had caused such abuse and the subsequent sense of loss, drug abuse and suicide suffered by many who experienced it. For those of the generation that endured the abuse, there was no reconciliation possible with the Church, or interest in continued affiliation with it. For those like myself who revere the good that the Church does and the holiness it stands for, this was difficult. One hopes, perhaps vainly, that our beloved Church can be healed, purged and mended. But the tenor of our time argues that abandoning the Church, and everything it has ever stood for, is the more typical reaction.

Hand of God is a mesmerizing and powerful film. It tells stories that are uncomfortable and devastating. It tells of a culture destroyed by foolish, vain men bent on maintaining an empty way of life in the face of ample evidence (child rape, for God's sake!) that changes are needed. Sadly, the bunker mentality that led to the abuse and its cover up have only strengthened. One can see the roots of this retrenchment in the attitude of men like Lennon and McCormack to their accusers -- either violently intimidating them or smilingly dismissing them.

At the best, Hand of God will stand as a testament to a thankfully-bygone era that was overcome by prayer, openness, healing and love. At worst, it will stand as a witness to a Church that was destroyed by its arrogance, its thirst for power and position, and its unwillingness to follow its own precepts of love and truth. Either way, Hand of God chronicles a time when the comforts and certainties of childhood and faith came crashing down in the stench of corruption and molestation, an act of the hand of man against the very children of God."
True courage tells the story
K. Lawrence | 08/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The story told in "Hand of God" is extremely well portrayed with remarkable use of symbolism depicting the denegration and destruction of a young boy's life and faith. The Culturas tell the story without bashing faith or religion but instead poignantly describing the experience of proflific sexual abuse by a priest and the priest cohorts who both facilitated more abuse by shuffling known abusers from parish to parish and denied victims justice when the abuse is brought to the hierarchy's attention and to light in the public. Outstanding courage and dedication spoken from a family who endured the all to common tragedy."