Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Nov 14, 2012
    Given the grievousness of their sins, one wonders why the church continues to shelter them. Might it not be more appropriate to excommunicate them, and refer them to the attention of the civil authorities?
  2. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Nov 15, 2012
    The movie revisits the themes (and some of the same characters) of Amy Berg's chilling 2006 chronicle "Deliver Us from Evil." But it reaches further, expanding from one American diocese to Ireland, Italy, the Vatican and the career of the current pope.
  3. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 15, 2012
    Gibney's narrative drags to some extent when the focus widens to explore the Vatican's overall policy for covering up sex scandals, but he successfully demonstrates the systematic failure of a system designed work flawlessly on the basis of spirituality that never existed in the first place.
  4. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Nov 14, 2012
    Mea Maxima Culpa is not gentle about placing blame on a structure that elevates priests above the rest of mankind and prioritizes maintaining an appearance of pious perfection over addressing some grievous wrongs committed.
  5. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    Nov 14, 2012
    By turns moving, absorbing and downright rage-inducing.
  6. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Feb 11, 2013
    It may look like a documentary but Gibney's film is a horror film in every sense. Essential, uncomfortable viewing.
  7. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Nov 16, 2012
    There is something to be said for a clear and unblinking recitation of facts, and thankfully Mr. Gibney does a lot of that.
  8. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 16, 2012
    One of the most intriguing tangents in Mea Maxima Culpa involves the Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paraclete, a Catholic congregation established to help priests who were struggling with celibacy, alcoholism and other personal issues.
  9. Reviewed by: Marsha McCreadie
    Nov 13, 2012
    Silence might be the most perfect expression of scorn, as the saying goes, but like Edvard Munch's "The Scream," you don't have to hear it to get the horror.
  10. 70
    Beyond the Mafia-like code of silence, it comes down to this: The guys at the top reserved their compassion for priests like Father Murphy in the belief that the boys were young and would get over it. No one of true faith will get over Maxima Mea Culpa.
  11. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Nov 12, 2012
    Damning documentary pairs an individual sex-abuse case with analysis of institutional dysfunction at the Vatican.
  12. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Nov 12, 2012
    A powerful, necessary contribution to a chilling body of reportage that, one senses by film's end, has just begun to take stock of the human costs of a monstrous conspiracy.
  13. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Nov 16, 2012
    Some of the film's flourishes are ill-judged.
  14. Reviewed by: Tomas Hachard
    Nov 11, 2012
    Alex Gibney's latest lacks a certain cinematic depth, but that doesn't take away from its admirable reporting.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Feb 14, 2013
    I am very careful how many documentaries like this I watch. I stay away from watching them because there is nothing that I can do right awayI am very careful how many documentaries like this I watch. I stay away from watching them because there is nothing that I can do right away to make an impact towards the main cause of the movie. Topics like starving kids in Africa, major corporations taking over the world, etc. those are all incredibly sad, yet overwhelming for a simple individual like me.

    However, this movie addresses a topic that has been covered for many, many years, and is present all over the world, particularly in the US: sexual abuse by priests, and the covering up of their actions by their superiors all the way to the head of their denomination (in this case, the pope). I have yet to decide which part is more monstrous the act, or the cover-up.

    From a technical point of view, the movie is very well done. The agenda is very clear, but it is not filled with hatred and anger. I found it wise that the producers quietly presented the facts from the victims themselves, and included trustworthy persons in the interviews (NY Times reporter, archbishops, former priests, etc.).
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 4, 2013
    If Dan Brown had written a novel about a cover-up in the Catholic Church on the scale depicted in this film, it would be treated as a greatIf Dan Brown had written a novel about a cover-up in the Catholic Church on the scale depicted in this film, it would be treated as a great work of fiction. The trouble is, it’s all true and that’s the most shocking thing about it. It is a very well made film that has a compelling flow to the narrative and this is helped with some nicely chosen musical backdrops. The only thing that lets it down is a lack of balance, but then, as it says in the film, the Vatican refused to be interviewed for this film. Not that they could have put up any defence. I found it a gripping watch that did get a little emotional at times. Well worth a look whatever religion (or not) you are.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    My score: 8.8/10
    Full Review »