Frontline

Season 2007 Episode 01.16.07

Hand of God

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Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Jan 16, 2007 on PBS
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Hand of God
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Paul Cultrera was molested in the 1960s by Father Joseph Birmingham, who allegedly abused nearly 100 other children. "Hand of God" tells the story of faith betrayed, and how Paul and the rest of the Cultrera family fought back against a scandal that continues to afflict scores of churches across the country. Paul Cultrera and his siblings were raised in an Italian-Catholic family in Salem, Mass., and attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. From an early age they were immersed in the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church. At 14, Paul, an altar boy at St. James Parish, came under the guidance of Fr. Birmingham. Birmingham was young and friendly, often taking the boys on trips and inviting them to the rectory for Friday and Saturday night pizza parties. It was during confession that Paul's relationship with Fr. Birmingham changed. Confessing to masturbation led to private "counseling" sessions at the rectory, where Paul was sexually abused. Birmingham also abused him during nighttime rides in Birmingham's black Ford Galaxie and on trips out of town.moreless
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