A survivor-led project that saw the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle publicly acknowledge the devastation caused by clergy sexual abuse was recently launched in Newcastle, mnnews.today reports.
Lina, a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a member of clergy in the Diocese, devised "The Atonement: Lina’s Project" as a way of rebuilding her own trust in the Church and bringing some healing to those affected by the actions and inactions of the Church.
Lina hoped that by admitting its criminal history and cover-ups very publicly, first at the launch event at Newcastle City Hall, and then by projecting the audio-visual presentation onto the façade of Sacred Heart Cathedral for a week, the Diocese might take a step towards atonement with the community.
It is believed Lina’s Project was the first time anywhere in the world that a Catholic diocese has facilitated a project conceived by a victim in this way.
Around 500 people attended the launch. Victims, survivors, their families and friends, clergy, religious, principals, teachers, diocesan staff and many others from the community, and around Australia, sat together in the concert hall.
A 16 minute audio-visual presentation was shown. The majority of this was the naming of perpetrators of abuse in this diocese, as well as those who concealed their crimes. Lina’s voice and words anchored the film and, along with quotes from other victims and survivors who were happy to lend their voice to the project, gave the presentation its compass. The audio-visual presentation was the crux of the event and was very challenging to watch.
After a couple of minutes of silence people were invited to attach a piece of egg ‘shell’ to an egg on the stage. This ritual tied in to the symbol of the King penguin and the egg, which was devised by Lina and used to promote the event, and also played a key role in the presentation.
The idea was that once pieces were attached to the egg it would be clear that the shell was replaced, but still broken. The ritual symbolised our community – we can come together and support each other, but must always remain aware of the brokenness of those affected by abuse.
Community comes together for Lina’s Project (mnnews.today)
Lina's Project website (Lina's Project)