January 08, 2005

R.I. filmmaker had to put aside 'Catholic girl mindset'

Providence Journal

01:04 AM EST on Saturday, January 8, 2005

Journal Staff Writer

As a filmmaker documenting the far-reaching sexual-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, Mary Healey-Conlon had scored a coveted interview. She and her camera were inside the Chicago mansion of Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of the third-largest diocese in the nation. After numerous requests from Healey-Conlon in 2002, Cardinal George had agreed to an interview.

But as the Warren filmmaker met with the church dignitary in his lakeside residence, where nuns served tea and cookies, she had two instincts: one, as a journalist who believed in hard questions; the other as a Catholic who had grown up believing in the church.

"It was utterly intimidating," recalled Healey-Conlon, 37, a lecturer in film studies at the University of Rhode Island. "I had to keep reminding myself not to fall into the sort of Catholic girl mindset, and continue to ask the questions I had prepared."

These questions are part of Holy Water-Gate: Abuse Cover-Up in the Catholic Church, a 56-minute documentary directed by Healey-Conlon and premiering Monday at the Coolidge Corner Movie Theater, in Brookline, Mass. Last month, the documentary won a CINE Golden Eagle Award, which recognizes excellence in professional filmmaking; past recipients include Steven Spielberg and Ken Burns.

Filming the documentary took Healey-Conlon from vigils outside the Diocese of Providence through the snowy plains of the Midwest and to Rome to interview victims, clergy and even a perpetrator.

Posted by kshaw at January 8, 2005 04:27 AM