Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Long History of Atrocities Against Children and Teens by Ireland's Catholic Church

The Washington Post and several Irish and UK media outlets including the Irish Independent have recently been discussing what was known to the locals of the Irish town of Tuam as simply "the Home" and the horrors that went on there.

The Home was a home for children born to unmarried mothers, many of whom had been raped, in western Ireland. The conditions there were deplorable. Malnutrition, neglect, rampant diseases like the measles and TB were common, and to add insult to injury, the children of the Home were ostracized by nuns and teachers in local Catholic schools, forced to sit separately from the rest of the children, and routinely mocked and bullied by the other children.

What is even more of a tragedy is that in 1995, several children playing stumbled upon a mass grave of nearly 800 dead children, that turned out to be bodies of children of the Home. They were unceremoniously dumped in an abandoned septic tank, not even given the decency of having a proper burial in a church cemetery after the suffering they went through. Plans are in the works locally for the church to build a memorial with the names of the children.  As horrific as this case is, it was far from an isolated incident in the history of Ireland's Catholic church.

The "Magdalene Laundries".

The Catholic church of Ireland also had their own system of homes for "wayward girls", much like the Hephzibah House and Lester Roloff homes ran by ministers and organizations within the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult in the US.

They became known as the Magdalene Laundries out of a reference to the Biblical figure Mary Magdalene and the fact that the girls were used as slave labor doing laundry and repairing uniforms for Ireland's prison system, working long hours, 7 days a week with hot and dangerous industrial laundry equipment. Beating and sexual abuse were common, as well as long forced prayer sessions.

Mass graves play a part in this horrible story as well, when one of these homes was sold 20 years ago, 155 bodies were found on the premises in unmarked graves. The Irish government has issued an apology and offered reparations to survivors for their role in these horrors, but the Catholic church so far has done nothing to help.

Abuse in children's homes in Northern Ireland:

A hearing and series of investigations into Catholic boy's homes in Northern Ireland has revealed some disturbing information. Survivors recounted beatings and molestation, one man said he was beaten so severely, he has severe hearing loss as a result. Other horrors involved children being tormented for bed wetting, being forced to eat their own vomit when ill, and being made to work on farms at very young ages. One man recounted by beaten with canes, and told he was "the son of the Devil" because his mother was unmarried when she gave bith to him.

Why was the Catholic church allowed to do this with such impunity? At least in the cases of "the Home", and the Magdalene Laundries, the abuse was well known in the community, why was no one held accountable and the abuse stopped?

1 comment:

  1. We can all agree that community apathy and a lack of accountability fueled these abuses, but they also raise questions about the nature of evil. What would possess the monastics and staff of those institutions to abuse young women and children so callously? From where does evil like this spring? I don't have any answers.

    My heart breaks for the countless victims, and I'm relieved that their suffering is now coming to light.


No spam, proselytizing, or personal attacks, such comments will never see the light of day around here.

Disagreeing with me is fine (I encourage it), but have some decency when writing your comment