Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood

Sipe film

Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood

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The Film

Richard Sipe was a former Benedictine monk and Catholic priest, trained as a psychotherapist to deal with the mental health problems of the clergy. Over the years he dealt with the records of over six thousand patients and recognized a pattern of behavior within the Church that eventually lead him to leave the priesthood. “The monastery that had been my idealistic home when I was thirteen, by the time I was thirty-seven, it was in a sense a junkheap to me.”

Upon leaving the priesthood, Richard helped lift what he refers to as “the mask”, revealing the truth behind celibacy and its connection to the sexual abuse of minors. In a series of provocative books, he wrote frankly and extensively about sexuality in the priesthood. He also became an expert witness for the prosecution in hundreds of clergy abuse cases.

Richard has appeared in dozens of documentaries and was the person The Boston Globe reporters called on for advice in SPOTLIGHT – the 2015 Academy Award Winner for Best Film. SIPE: SEX, LIES, AND THE PRIESTHOOD is the first documentary to focus completely on Richard’s own journey – from the priesthood to an outspoken and informed critic of the institution.

The film is directed by Joe Cultrera. His 2006 feature documentary HAND OF GOD told the story of Catholic clergy abuse through the lens of his own brother’s experience and the ripple effects it had within his family. The film aired on the PBS series FRONTLINE and was hailed as “a sober and moving family drama” and “a glorious example of speaking truth to power.” 

Zingerplatz Pictures and Present


A film by Joe Cultrera

directed by
joe cultrera

cinematography by
hugh walsh

Music by
Claudio Ragazzi

Produced by
Terry McKiernan and Anne Barret Doyle