Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies presents screening and discussion of "Vows of Silence"


On Thursday, October 9 at 7 p.m. on the Fairfield University campus, documentary filmmaker Jason Berry will screen and discuss his film, "Vows of Silence," based on the controversial 2004 book of the same name by Berry, and the late Gerald Renner. The film's website describes "Vows of Silence" as "an anatomy of the Vatican justice system, following the haunting saga of Fr. Marcial Maciel," founder of the religious order, the Legionaries of Christ.

The free event is hosted by the University's Center for Catholic Studies, and will take place in the Wien "Black Box" Theatre, located in the Quick Center for the Arts.

"Vows of Silence" began as a Hartford Courant article about the Legionaries of Christ, which has its U.S. headquarters in Connecticut. Renner was the Courant's religion reporter when he teamed up with Berry, a freelance reporter at the time, to write the piece. The Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awarded the two men the 1998 Theodore Driscoll Investigative Award for their work.

The subsequent book, "Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II" (The Free Press, 2004) led to an investigation by the Vatican.

Paul Lakeland, Ph. D., director of the Center for Catholic Studies, said, "It tells the story of the Legionaries of Christ, a very conservative and secretive organization whose founder, Marcel Maciel, was accused of sex abuse but seemingly protected in the Vatican by John Paul II, though sanctioned by Benedict XVI shortly after he became Pope."

Berry is also the author of the book, "Lead Us Not Into Temptation" (1992). Berry worked as a consultant to ABC News, and has been widely interviewed by the national media. He has contributed essays to National Public Radio. He received Guggenheim and Alicia Patterson fellowships in relation to his cultural and political research. Berry, a New Orleans resident, has also written extensively about the city. His other books include "Up From the Cradle of Jazz," "Last of the Red Hot Poppas," and "The Spirit of Black Hawk." His play, "Earl Long in Purgatory," won a 2002 Big Easy Award for best original work of local theater.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 19, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 58