Oscar-nominated `Faith' debuts on HBO

June 28, 2005|By Shawn Hubler | Shawn Hubler,LOS ANGELES TIMES

HOLLYWOOD - Twist of Faith, the Oscar-nominated documentary debuting tonight at 10 on HBO, opens with the words "Toledo, Ohio," and the taped deposition of a priest.

The Middle American town, the beefy, small-mouthed cleric - the images are haunting, and they're meant to be, for they also haunt Anthony Comes, the firefighter, father, husband, hometown guy and working-class Roman Catholic who is at the heart of this documentary and who, as it turns out, has just learned that his brand new dream house is five doors down from the parochial high school counselor who he says molested him when he was 14.

What follows is a riveting and heartbreaking account of one man's journey into the thick of what most Americans now know as the "pedophile priest scandal."

Comes was one of many parochial school boys who vied for coveted invitations to the lakeside cabin of Dennis Gray, a popular priest-counselor who used it for overnight youth retreats.

Gray's is the deposition that runs through the film, just as his face runs, unbidden, through Comes' most private memories and moments. The priest is heard from only in deposition footage, although his account, is under oath. An epilogue indicates that Gray publicly denied Comes' allegations, but in the deposition, Gray takes the Fifth Amendment when asked whether he molested his students and says he believes that sexual abuse of a minor doesn't necessarily cause serious long-range damage.

The inability to fully hear the priest's side leaves, as the reporters say, a hole in the story, but it also makes room for important questions - about sex, about power, about the elusiveness of the "whole truth" - to be raised.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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