Mexican film Obediencia Perfecta (Perfect Obedience) written and directed by Luis Urquiza is a biopic about disgraced priest Marcial Maciel – who used drugs, abused boys, and fathered numerous children, who he also allegedly abused. The movie is creating shockwaves in mainly Catholic Mexico.
Presenting the film in Mexico City, the director said that the recently canonised Pope John-Paul II had failed to act on the case, which made him guilty by association: “For me, the Pope is obviously guilty. He is guilty, he is associated, he is an accomplice. When there is a genocide and there is a general who is responsible, if the soldiers do something, the general is called and he is judged. Here, Pope John Paul II has not been judged but we already know that this is what the Church does, the Catholic Church as an institution – because there are also exemplary priests.”
After a lifetime surrounded by persistent rumours, in 1997 a group of men publically accused Maciel of sexually abusing them during the 40s and 50s and lodged a formal complaint at the Vatican in 1998. A year later, they were told that the case had been shelved on orders from Pope John Paul II.
Juan Manuel Bernal, who acted in the film, said: “I don’t think that we are looking for scandal or ridicule. We are simply trying to tell a story, to go deep into the subconscious mind of this character, which I think could be interesting for the spectator. Because effectively, we believe that all the world knows the story and most likely somebody read an account of it but has forgotten it. But the awful thing is that it keeps on happening and because of this, I think the film is important.”
In 2006, a year after the death of John-Paul II, a Vatican investigation concluded that the accusations of abuse were true and Pope Benedict ordered Maciel to retire to a life of prayer and penitence. Maciel died two years later at the ripe old age of 88.