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New DVD “The Healing Circle” addresses clergy sexual abuse

May 5, 2009

The circle of people gathered in November, 2006, with four survivors
who were subjected to clergy abuse while they were children (except for
one woman who describes her son committing suicide over it), Archbishop
Timothy Dolan (recently installed as the Archbishop of New York), an
abusing priest, a couple of other priests, lay church employees, a
woman who describes both her own decision to leave the church over the
issue and her 97 year old grandmother’s decision to stop taking
communion because of it, and a parishioner whose adult children no
longer attend mass. Each told about the personal impact these events
have had on their lives, making the film a very moving and emotionally
charged narrative.  The MULS RJI’s objective in creating the
documentary was not only to provide an experience that would promote
dialogue within the Catholic Church, but also for others who want to
initiate a dialogue about the harm that is created when a person in a
position of trust uses the relationship to sexually assault a

We filmed the circle for the purpose of creating a mechanism to help
people, churches (Catholic as well as other denominations), seminaries,
victims’ groups and others to see the faces of victims, to understand
the ripple effect that the scandal has caused, and to generate
discussion on how to help repair the harm. It also is a terrific
example of a restorative circle in action. If they wish, groups
watching the video can divide it into three sections; victims, people
working in the church, and members of the faith community. The DVD
package includes discussion questions for the viewers to reflect on how
they might work to repair the harm. The film is available either with a
standard introduction, or with an introduction and prayer by New York
Archbishop Dolan
Diane Knight, who is the Chair-Elect of the National Review Board of
the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has endorsed the film
in stating “I highly recommend “The Healing Circle” to anyone who has
an interest in gaining a greater understanding of the depth and breadth
of the impact of the clergy abuse crisis. The individual stories in
this DVD are compelling, and they are a powerful springboard for
meaningful discussion that can extend the healing process in all of us.
This is a must see for anyone who cares deeply about this issue.”
The DVD is 1:01:20 long in its standard version; 1:02:58 with an
introduction by Archbishop Timothy Dolan. It can be obtained through
the “Healing Circle Group” website at
Any questions or comments about the film can be sent to Janine Geske,
the director of the MULS RJI at


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