Examination of Conscience is a compelling, upsetting documentary that reveals the systematic abuse of children in the Spanish Catholic church.
Netflix Spanish series Examination of Conscience (‘Examen de Conciencia’) reminded me of that famous scene in Spotlight, which I will always remember; “It’s time Robbie, it’s time,” still gives me goosebumps today. Not only is it arguably Mark Ruffalo’s best scene, but it served a profound, horrifying truth that still lives with us today. The Catholic Church is plagued by paedophilia, and no matter how you look at it, not enough was done, and not enough is done in the present day.
And while the Best Picture-winning film was based on a version of events, its realism was acknowledged. Netflix docuseries Examination of Conscience is the documentary version of the twisted, religious system that traumatized young children for decades, but instead of in America, in Spain. Each compelling episode brings the victims forwards, to describe their trauma, their daily nightmare, and the compounding realization that there was willful ignorance surrounding the topic at the time.
Examination of Conscience confirms that the religious institution refused to solve their epidemic, that these Spanish kids were less important than their faith in God. There is a scene, in particular, real archive footage of an ex-priest admitting what he did to his victim. His guilt matches the shrug of a shoulder. But it was not just the pedophile priests that abused their power; it spread to the schools. P.E. teachers took advantage in the changing rooms, on school trips and while the boys were asleep.
It’s a hard watch Examination of Conscience; you almost have an out-of-body experience when the victims bravely discuss their story to the camera. The Netflix documentary series explains that it takes two decades for a child to process the trauma they’ve experienced after they are raped. One victim that represents this fact stored it away in his mind for years, only for it to all come out at once like Pandora’s box.
In recent years, the Pope has addressed the horrors in the Catholic system, the unforgivable cover-up. I don’t think the religion will ever truly recover from this tragic period of history, because not only is the entire epidemic evil, it goes against the beliefs of the sacred Bible that vows to protect children. Examination of Conscience is worth watching, but make sure you are in the right mindset because it exposes a system of terrifyingly wide scope.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.