Lina’s Project to heal

A SPECIAL screening of a film-installation which has been made as part of the atonement process between Lina Basile and the Newcastle-Maitland Diocese of the Catholic Church will occur at Newcastle City Hall this month.

Titled The Atonement: Lina’s Project, the film will be screened for the broader community to witness the impact of sexual abuse on victims within the church. 

A church she says has “burned, scorched and blistered the skins of the average ordinary human”. 

The screening of the film, which “pulls no punches”, will be another step toward healing for Ms Basile. She was just 9 years old when she suffered abuse at the hands of paedophile priest Denis McAlinden. 

At the time McAlinden was serving as a curate in the Taree area for the Newcastle-Maitland Diocese. The accused perpetrator died in 2005, before being named by 33 claimants at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. 

Ms Basile said the night was not just for the victims of abuse, but for the broader community who have also been “eroded” through having to witness the reporting of abuses which occurred within their own community. 

The project was a culmination of many years trying to come to terms with the impact of events which took place more than 50 years ago.  

Staff at Zimmerman Services – the church’s child protection service – asked her what could be done to help her heal. After some time Ms Basile realised she needed the church to feel “the shame publicly” for the abuse suffered and the “cover up” which followed. And to apologise to “every layer” of the community. 

“I told them exactly what I wanted, and they have done it,” she said. “I told them there can’t be a bishop or a priest saying anything, none of them are allowed.” 

The City Hall has been selected for the event because it is not on church land. 

Bishop Bill Wright said it was important for the church to facilitate the event for the whole of the community to come together. 

“Whilst Lina’s Project can’t heal the hurt inflicted upon the community, what we can do is come together in acknowledging what has happened and what it has done to us,” he said. 

Lina’s Atonement Project will be held on September 15, at 5.30pm, at Newcastle City Hall. Entry is free.