Survivors of Catholic Clergy Abuse Turn to Acting to Process Trauma | Sojourners

Survivors of Catholic Clergy Abuse Turn to Acting to Process Trauma

Robert Greene's 'Procession' demonstrates the restorative potential of creative expression.
A young boy wearing a white surplice stands before a wall of stained glass
From Procession

IN WHISTLING IN the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary, Frederick Buechner writes of the power of art, “If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes ... like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces.” All art can be a sacred space to share an artist’s experiences and needs. At its very best, it can generate empathy and healing.

In the new Netflix documentary Procession, filmmaker Robert Greene works with adult survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, as well as trauma-trained advocates and therapists. The six men featured in the film collaboratively create dramatic scenes to process physical, emotional, and spiritual traumas. Their journey highlights the value of supportive communities, and the restorative potential of creative expression.

Though directed by Greene, Procession is credited as “a film by” everyone involved. Top billing goes to the men whose stories the film highlights: Joe Eldred, Mike Foreman, Ed Gavagan, Dan Laurine, Michael Sandridge, and Tom Viviano. While Greene may be the one behind the camera, ownership of the film belongs to the subjects.

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