Mel Gibson Says Catholic Church Needs 'Housecleaning' After Series of Scandals

Hollywood actor Mel Gibson has stated that the Catholic Church needs to undergo "housecleaning," after being mired in scandal over the years.

The Catholic Church has faced a number of unflattering headlines recently, most prominently for its record of handling sexual abuse cases.

And The Passion of the Christ director Gibson, who was raised a Sedevacantist traditionalist Catholic, believes a clean-up behind the scenes would greatly help the image of the church. Sedevacantists believe that since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958 (or, in some cases, the death of Pope John XXIII in 1963) subsequent popes have been neither true Catholics nor true popes, but rather heretics because they espoused Modernism.

In an interview with Extra host Billy Bush, Gibson was asked if his decision to team up with fellow Catholic Mark Wahlberg for the upcoming faith-themed biopic Father Stu was part of an effort to "get back to the good" of the church.

"Back to basics," Gibson, 66, responded. "Of course, it's lamentable all the stuff that's gone on. Like any institution, it's capable of being corrupt. And, you know, it is sad to see, but as always, I don't think it's the institution that's at fault.

"I think it's a lot of people they get in it. Institutions are as good or as bad as the people in it, running it. It is having a bit of a rugged time right now."

Gibson—whose self-built Malibu church, The Church of the Holy Family, is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic archdiocese—added: "I think there's going to need to be a housecleaning. It is going to have to come back to some sort of equilibrium in the future."

It is not the first time that Gibson has spoken out about certain aspects of the church. In September 2021, the National Catholic Reporter published an article that quoted him speaking out against the Second Vatican Council.

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Mel Gibson attends The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. The actor and filmmaker has said that the Catholic Church needs "housecleaning" after a series of scandals over the years. Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics' Choice Awards

According to the report, the screen star endorsed the Coalition for Canceled Priests, whose bishops have removed the clerics from ministry for expressing opinions seen as controversial by the church.

"And my question is, who's hiring [the bishops]? I don't think it's Jesus. Is it [Pope] Francis? Who's hiring Francis? Is it Pachamama?" Gibson said.

Gibson said that "there was nothing wrong" with the Catholic Church before Vatican II's reforms, adding: "It didn't need to be fixed. It was doing pretty well."

While Gibson is known to be a devoted Catholic, he has faced a large number of detractors amid accusations of antisemitism and racism. Actor Joshua Malina branded him a "Jew-hater" in an impassioned op-ed for The Atlantic last month.

This week, the Vatican spoke out in defense of Pope Benedict XVI's record of handling sexual abuse cases in the church after it was reported that the former pontiff had mishandled four such cases in the 1970s and 1980s.

German law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl's report, which was released last week, covered church officials' handling of sexual abuse allegations between 1945 and 2019.

Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was accused in the report of mishandling four cases when he was head of the Munich Archdiocese between 1977 and 1982. He was also accused of approving the transfer of a pedophile priest to Munich in 1980. The priest went on to molest another boy in 1986.

In an editorial for Vatican News, Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director for the Vatican's Dicastery for Communication, said that the report "is not a judicial inquiry nor a final sentence."

He also stated that the reconstructions in the report will "help to combat pedophilia in the Church if they are not reduced to the search for easy scapegoats and summary judgments."

Benedict, said Tornielli, "did not evade questions" during the investigation and provided an 82-page response after reviewing documents from the diocesan archives. Benedict is reported to have defrocked almost 400 priests he found guilty of abuse.

"For too long abused children and their relatives, instead of being considered wounded persons to be welcomed and accompanied on the path of healing, have been kept at a distance," Tornielli wrote. "It was Joseph Ratzinger, [who was] the first Pope to meet several times with victims of abuse during his apostolic journeys."

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Pope Benedict XVI blesses pilgrims as he arrive in St Peter's square at the Vatican on May 18, 2005, for his weekly general audience. The Vatican recently defended his record of handling sexual abuse cases in the church. VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images