"Pray For Our Sinners," an award-winning documentary telling the story of Irish campaigners who stood up to the Catholic Church over sexual abuse scandals, has been released in select Irish cinemas.
Sinéad O'Shea's "Pray For Our Sinners" follows a number of inspirational campaigners in O'Shea's hometown of Navan, Co Meath, who stood up to the Catholic Church in the 1960s and 1970s at a time when challenging the church would have been unacceptable.
The film is not a black-and-white portrayal of saints and sinners but a nuanced account of Catholicism and its all-powerful role in Irish life during the 20th century.
O'Shea takes a personal approach to the stories of systemic abuse within the Catholic Church, focusing on the tradition of silence in Ireland and how difficult it has been for people in her hometown to articulate their suffering.
O'Shea interviews those who campaigned against Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries in addition to those who advocated for victims of extreme corporal punishment in church-run schools.
One such interviewee is Dr. Mary Randles, who complained to the church on behalf of a young boy named Norman Murray, who was viciously beaten simply writing with his left hand after breaking his right arm in a fall.
Corporal punishment was not outlawed in Ireland until 1982, while Magdalene Laundries and mother and baby homes survived in some form until the latter part of the 20th century. O'Shea's documentary highlights that these changes were not inevitable but the result of the tireless campaigners who took on the church at a time when it was not acceptable to do so.
"I am very proud to be sharing these stories of resilience and resistance. I hope they provide insights into Irish life and draw attention to the continuing issues caused by the relationship between Church and State here," O'Shea said in a statement ahead of the release of the film.