My words are my only asset Please click my PayPal button

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Basta! And Still Not Enough!

2 trips to Vatican since 2002
Still no communication with Pope 
So Birmingham victim makes documentary 

Basta. Bernie and guard
In a memorable segment of the film, Basta, Bernie McDaid tries to deliver a letter to a Vatican office. Dozens of other people enter as the Guards nod them in, but Bernie is left gesturing and pointing to papers in his hands. The caption reads “for 45 minutes, while negotiating, Bernie watches as people simply walk in.”  On screen the guards look like Punch and Judy dolls as they keep blocking Bernie from entering the building.

"Basta! No Pity, No Shame, No Silence" documents years of Vatican runaround experienced by two survivors of pedophile priest Joseph Birmingham of Boston trying to communicate with The Vatican about the extent of the pedophile priest crisis.  The film covers two trips to Rome in their effort to talk to a Pope. 

“At the second screening a survivor in his fifties stood up, talked about his life briefly, then mentioned for the first time in public that he was a survivor,” said Gary Bergeron who put together the film.  “I still meet Birmingham survivors who I knew personally who I didn't know were Birmingham survivors, they had never come forward before.”

“And we're just talking about one priest.”

After realizing there were dozens of other victims of Birmingham, then hundreds of victims of other priests in Boston, Bergeron and McDaid made their first trip to Rome, documented almost by accident on footage then used in the film.  By 2010 the world knew that around the United States there were tens of thousands of victims of thousands of priests, so McDaid and Bergeron went again to the Vatican.  

Both times all they wanted was to talk to the Pope or someone close to him about the crisis. 

Both times were met with arrogant disinterest.

So in 2013 Bergeron started going to his local cable public access station and taught himself editing, for which he shows real talent in this first documentary.  “I was at that facility from February until August five to six days a week, full time, 10 to 7 during the week, Saturdays half days.”

The result is “Basta, No Pity, No Shame, No Silence,” which portrays the frustration of these two pedophile priest victims experienced trying to communicate with Catholic hierarchy, which many others of us will be able to identify.  Bergeron used an inherent storytelling skill and produced a DVD that makes me want to watch it over and over again, if for nothing else just to look at the faces. 

In the film, in the first 30 seconds we catch a cardinal in a lie.  Footage shows Roger Mahony of L.A. saying, “This handful of priests that we had to deal with wouldn't fill up half of one of those pews.” Then Gary uses a graphic to type out the fact that 508 priests were identified in L.A. alone during the one year window in the SOL for lawsuits in California in 2003.

Right off the bat in the film we catch a cardinal in a lie. 

Cardinal Ratzinger wouldn't see them

Bergeron’s voiceover on the film says,

“A form letter from Cardinal Ratzinger said they were aware of the situation and they were doing everything that they could. It's irony to me that one of the men who wouldn't see us, Cardinal Ratzinger, would be the next pope.  We had no idea."
As we lead up to the scene where McDaid can’t get past the guards, we see Bernie on the phone over and over again calling and calling, on pay phones and emailing from a local computer café, to set up a meeting.

We see Gary trying to send a fax:  “This is about the tenth time they've given me the wrong number.”

Bernie: “It was that brother guy.  No wonder you can’t meet the pope, he's completely hidden.” 

Then we see the Swiss Guard in their colorful garb keep blocking Bernie McDaid from entering at the same time as they're nodding and waving the tourists and any others to go on and enter.


One part of the pedophile priest phenomenon that fascinates me is the similarity in how the experience affected the victims.  Gary Bergeron says at the beginning of his film Basta:

“At 39 I realized that I had moved 22 times in 21 years,”

( Me: I just moved the fourth time in three years and am anchoring myself down with heavy furniture to keep from moving again right now in 2014 )

Bergeron continues: “Running. Running to find something or running to hide from something.” 

Back to 2002, trying to get in to a Vatican office building.


Gary:  The Vatican Press agent is saying they're unaware that we're here.  That's after they've been notified by the U.S. Embassy.

Bernie: And we're here every day.

Gary:  Every day, five six times we've been at that door. 

Then we cut to Gary in what appears to be news clip from 2002

“So he could see my face, remember my face.”

From Gary in a sit down interview that is woven through the film.

“If the average person sitting in the pew took the time to read the documents that I've read, they’d be taking the churches down brick by brick.  Because we're not talking about a child accusing a priest, we're talking about a child accusing a priest, a priest being brought in, and admitting it on paper.  They first knew about Joe Birmingham in 1962, the year I was born, and they had opportunity after opportunity to change course and they didn't.  And it affected my life and it affected hundreds of lives.”
There it is again, the survivor face, that thing I see on each of us in news clips and in person interviews.  

It's almost gotten to the point where the face is a way to tell if a person is telling the truth about being molested by a pedophile priest; if they are telling the truth, they will have The Face. 


The pedophile priest survivor face has got tears entrenched in every line, every expression exposes held back emotion, even if just for an instant. The survivor face, even when smiling, has a sadness underneath because the damage is so internal. It wasn’t just child molestation, tack on the extra fact that the perpetrator was religious.  The result is this quizzical dichotomy of emotions on each of our faces.  Happy, joyous to still be alive, but forever that thing inside shining its sad light.

Oh my god I am going on and on, back to the video.

Bergeron in film clip: “I had the opportunity to meet with Cardinal Law in July,” Bergeron says in the film.  “For my own reasons I needed to face him.”

(Again. Faces)

“I asked him to do the right thing.  I had met with him five or six times over the summer whenever I had the opportunity,  So he could see my face, remember my face,

(Again. Faces)

“And remember there are fifty-four other men behind me.  This has gotten so enormous, this has affected so many lives. My family is still in pain and the church is still letting lawyers do the talking. They still don't get it.”

Then Bergeron and McDaid are off to Rome, the first time, no appointment, just faith, says the voice over.

Bernie: “Anything is possible here.”



CofA:  How did you get the footage from the trip to Rome the first time?  It looks like real news footage, were you planning the documentary that far back?

Gary B: There was a Birmingham survivor who worked for a major New York magazine. He’s a John Doe who heard we were going in 2002 and asked to come and have a camera follow him, because at some point he knew he’d want it.  So when we landed in Rome the second day, we hired one camera guy from Italy, and it was all shot shotgun style, one camera following us around, no sound crew.

For footage of the second trip to The Vatican in 2010:

Gary B: I hadn’t seen that footage until a year ago.  I reached out to all the news agencies who had covered our second trip, and most had taped over it.  But there was one reporter from a Swiss television station, a French reporter, and she still had all her raw footage.

In the sit-down interview on film, Bergeron says about attempts to sit down with the Pope and talk:

GARY:  Our goal was to open up dialogue with the Vatican.  You don't have to agree with someone, you don't have to like someone, to sit across the table and have a conversation.  The reality is, every conflict that society has ever had eventually got resolved through a conversation.  Whether it was Gorbachev and Reagan, whether it was Kennedy and Khrushchev, it was dialogue that got the problem solved.  And we've been trying to engage them in dialogue for the better part of ten years.”


On that first trip to The Vatican, they do finally end up meeting with Monsignor Green for about ninety minutes.  They talked about the impact this had had on the families. 


“The problem has always been one thing, honesty. 

“If they had told us the truth from the beginning, we could have dealt with it.  If somebody had told us the truth this week, we could have dealt with it.  But the fact is we knocked on door after door after door, we had meeting after meeting after meeting and got nowhere until last night.  Did we meet the Pope, no, but I told them last night that we would be back.”

Gary’s message to the Pope was that the Bishops in the United States were not doing their jobs. 

As if The Pope didn't know. 

The mistreatment was so massive and so prolonged that it bordered on the unbelievable.  They were in effect sacrificing children to protect their reputation.”
- Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly, in the Grand Jury Report, quoted in Basta after they return from Rome… the first time. 

Bergeron and McDaid came back from the first trip to Rome and the Massachusetts Attorney General Report came out, sparking them to do more. The film includes incredibly emotional scenes from 2010 when they meet up with survivors in Europe and hold a candlelight ceremony. 

“After Rome I was going to come home and get back to normal life.  But there really was no normal for me,” says the voiceover, and then continues:

“It was shocking to me that we had passed two election cycles and yet thousands of survivors had spoken publicly, and we hadn’t had one politician, one senator, one congressman, stand up and take on the issue of Catholic clergy abuse.”

In the United States according to archdiocese internal numbers, and internal audits, the number of predator priests identified is just shy of seven thousand

(Note, I emailed bishop accountability about most current numbers and Anne Barett Doyle emailed back:)

"The current cumulative total of accused clerics acknowledged by US bishops is more than 6,400."

On the film, a graphic states there are 714,455 children who are now adult survivors of Catholic pedophile priest crimes in the USA.  

(So why do I still feel so alone?)

To find out more about Basta, buy the DVD here:


Raw Notes 
from Fall 2013 Bergeron Interview:
(I interviewed Gary after watching the film and here is what he said:)

At each screening someone has come forward whose family or friends had committed suicide and nobody put the pieces together until this story broke in Boston.

I still meet Birmingham survivors who I knew personally who I didn't know were Birmingham survivors, they “had never come forward before.

At the second screening a survivor stood up and talked about his life briefly and then mentioned he was a survivor and it was the first time he had ever spoken.

He was in his fifties. 

For me it was validation in wanting to get the story out, because I really want to get the story out for a couple of reasons but mainly to educate the public

To help understand what it was like twelve years ago

For survivors to understand they're not alone.

Stressing it's never too late to make a change if change is necessary. 

On teaching himself editing

It's called Lowell Public Access Station.  I became a member. They have full production and editing facilities and I self-taught the programs I needed to do the production work, that needed to be done.

I taught myself how to do it. 

I started in February 2013

I had been working on the video, thinking about getting it done for quite a while, but to do a quality production piece it's extremely expensive.  Raising funds for a survivor based project, is always a challenge.  I toured the facility and realized if I took some time and learned.  

I was at that facility from February until August five to six days a week, full time, during the week, 10 to 7 Saturdays half days.

I hadn’t used a Mac since 1986, which was what they used for all the editing.  So I had to refresh my memory about the difference between a Mac and a PC.

I had a story board, so I had a clear idea of what I wanted as a finished product, the challenge was learning the software to get there.

It was extremely difficult, but now having gone through it, I enjoyed the creative process, I enjoyed learning the techniques, sound equipment, camera

My wife and I run a small antique and consignment store, so she took care of the business end of the store and I did what I need to do at the time.

First private screening was mid-October 2013.

I spent from October to December re-editing.  There’s always a little bit of tweaking I want to do. Showed it again in November.  On a forty-foot screen a totally different feel, so I made adjustments.

My hope is having it shown in cinema as well as televisions. 


CUT PARAGRAPH from this post:

Here we have the A--hole Catholic sequence of the film, where John Allen is convincing Bernie McDaid that people come all the time to try and see the Pope and they're no different from anyone else.  I mean, wait a minute, they're representing victims of Joseph Birmingham, one of the worst predators among the pedophile priests in Boston.  That's not quite the same as, “I want to meet with the pope to have him bless my daughter’s ballet shoes,” this is serious business. 

Here is the conversation

John A:  It's a long shot you'll get in to see the Pope, let me tell ya. 

Bernie McD:  I feel we should meet the Pope.

John A:  I'm not saying you shouldn't. 

Bernie McD: I'm not out in left field in thinking that we can, I don't even want to go there, I don't know if you understand my-

John A:  I do but I'm just trying to give you the sort of realistic lay of the land, which is people come into Rome every day. 

Bernie McD: I understand-

John A:  Dozens of them every day and every one of them is convinced that they have something that's urgently important for our Pope.

Bernie McD:  Really? 


“The first time we went to Rome it was the week the U.S. invaded Iraq,” Bergeron said in a recent interview.  “A year after the date I went public March 2002." The second trip was October 29, 2010, where Survivors Voice International held the first Reformation Day event in St. Peter’s Square, in moving footage from the film.

I highly recommend the DVD of Basta to anyone who wonders what they can do to help get out to the public information about this epidemic of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, even if it means just showing it to one small group of friends at a time.  If we don't take publicizing of these crimes into our own hands, the Church is going to get away with decades of felonious aiding and abetting of pedophilia, resulting in hundreds of thousands of victims all over the world.  If we don't start getting aggressive with telling our stories, The Vatican will escape any repercussions, other than nasty jokes in comedy routines.  Bergeron’s tenacity in producing this film is an example for all of us.  Keep trying, keep producing, don't let the obstacles keep you from keeping on.

Posted by Kay Ebeling

button with high fives ($5) 
My Words Are My Only Asset


One of 56 publicly known survivors of Joseph Fr. Joseph Birmingham of Boston, Gary Bergeron keeps going on, one foot in front of the other, an example to the rest of us pedophile priest victims that no matter what they do to us, we should work as hard as we can to get the truth about these crimes out to the public. 

You'll laugh when you see McDaid trying to get past the Vatican guards, you'll cry when you see the candlelight ceremony as the group McDaid and Bergeron formed, Survivors Voice, went international at a session outside yet another Vatican building ( always on the outside while the golden garbed inside dine on pigeon )

Note: Get across Gary's tenacity, the way his work motivates me to keep going, even after down times, to get back up and keep going.

Click my PayPal Button with many many high fives
My Words are my Only Asset 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments have to be emailed to to be published. You do not have to be a "member" as it says here, but I will only publish comments that are emailed to me -thanks, kay

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.