May 25, 2005

Archdiocese feels betrayed by film

Chicago Tribune

By Manya A. Brachear
Tribune staff reporter
Published May 25, 2005

When filmmaker Mary Healey-Conlon requested an interview with Cardinal Francis George for a documentary on the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, the cardinal welcomed her to his residence in hopes that answering her questions would shed light on the scandal enveloping American bishops.

Now officials with the archdiocese of Chicago say they regret their participation, contending that the film, titled "Holy Water-gate," is riddled with inaccuracies. They also fault Healey-Conlon for failing to disclose conflicts of interest when she approached them in 2002.

"The cardinal will not dignify this so-called documentary with a comment," said Jim Dwyer, a spokesman for the archdiocese. "This thing is an infomercial for plaintiffs' attorneys ... pure propaganda."

The documentary debuted last week on Showtime as a prelude to "Our Fathers," a made-for-television movie about the scandal that came to light in Boston in 2002. Both the movie and documentary will air again Wednesday night.

The 56-minute film, boiled down from 350 hours of footage, features interviews with victims' advocates, including lawyers, priests and parishioners.

"I worked hard in the film not to draw too many conclusions for the audience," Healey-Conlon said. "It's very important that people grapple with it on their own. I still grapple with this on my own."

In the film, George says the crisis presents an opportunity for people in the church to explore their faith more deeply.

Posted by kshaw at May 25, 2005 06:46 AM