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Hearing stories, responding well

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

‘Procession’ is a new documentary film telling the stories of six men in Kansas City, USA, who were victims of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests. They are the actors in and directors of dramatized scenes that tell their story, and they made the film principally to raise awareness about what had happened to them. At this point I haven’t yet seen the film, but reviewers have been very positive about it, generally also recognising it as an act of healing and to some extent catharsis. If it’s anything like ‘Spotlight’, the 2015 film which followed investigative journalists uncovering abuse in Boston, it will be a hard, but compelling watch.

Telling the story to raise awareness of abuse is a key aspect of the ‘Reflect and Respond’ study guide that the Church published almost a year ago. A guide to help potential group leaders who may be wary of or anxious about the topic, has now been published. Again written with input from survivors, the guide does not necessarily make the subject ‘easier’ but offers practical tips to offer re-assurance about how to lead a group safely especially when the leader may not know what the four week course will stir up.

This week the Church is focussing again on domestic abuse through a webinar that is being broadcast on Thursday morning from 10-12. This promises to be a very positive event with input from the President of the Conference and academics as well as from the MP Jess Phillips who is the Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding. But above all it will be the stories told by survivors on the day that bring home the need to effect change and give impetus to actions the Church may take. If you want to join here are the details:

Stories told in a variety of ways and settings, by those who have lived experience, are often the best means of raising awareness and prompting responses. As Advent approaches, please keep watching and listening.

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