Thursday, June 05, 2014

Children's bones; babies' bodies – the undying shame of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland


This is a guest post from Sister Tiberia:

I didn't think there was anything that the Roman Catholic Church did in Ireland in the 20th century that actually had the power to shock me any more.

I was wrong.

This week, the news broke internationally about the nearly 800 bodies of children found in a disused septic tank belonging to what had once been a 'Home' for unmarried pregnant women in the town of Tuam in Ireland.

The Irish Mail on Sunday ran the story first. Then The Guardian got hold of it (and HERE), and then the Daily Mail ran the story.


It's now made the Washington Post.

For any who might wish to plead media inaccuracy, please read the evidence first.

We all know the Guardian is not a bastion of clear-headed unemotional journalism. But if they have accurately quoted Father Fintan Monaghan, Secretary of the Tuam Archdiocese, you will have to excuse me while I beat my head against a wall.
"I suppose we can't really judge the past from our point of view, from our lens. All we can do is mark it appropriately and make sure there is a suitable place here where people can come and remember the babies that died."
Excuse me?

Infant mortality rates in Ireland in the period between 1926 and 1961, when this home was running, were dreadful anyway. According to the historian Catherine Corless, the mortality rate there was four to five times the national rate. Nor did the mothers of these children have any choice about where they were taken, or what was to happen to their children. There's a name for a place where people are interned without trial or appeal, worked or kept in inhumane conditions and die from "malnutrition, neglect, measles, convulsions, TB, gastroenteritis and pneumonia". I'm sure everyone here knows what that is. So let's not invoke Godwin's Law before we even get to the comments.

Is Father Monaghan serious when he says we aren't to judge? We do judge. We judge the actions of the people who neglected these children. We judge the actions of the people who permitted them to die from the diseases of neglect. We judge the actions of the people who denied these children Christian burial. And we judge - with reason - the actions of the representatives of the Church who still can't say plainly what every decent person is thinking - that this was an outrage, then and now. That it should never have happened - then or now. That it is the Church's undying shame that this was allowed to happen on their watch.

And for probably the first and last time, I am in total agreement with a Guardian writer. Emer O'Toole says:
"Do not say Catholic prayers over these dead children. Don't insult those who were in life despised and abused by you. Instead, tell us where the rest of the bodies are. There were homes throughout Ireland, outrageous child mortality rates in each. Were the Tuam Bon Secours sisters an anomalous, rebellious sect? Or were church practices much the same the country over? If so, how many died in each of these homes? What are their names? Where are their graves? We don't need more platitudinous damage control, but the truth about our history."

315 Comments:

Blogger Shadrach said...

This was indeed a great tragedy of that time but not one to be written off just by saying Oh! that was a long time ago and things were different then.
No, there is accountability for all in what should have been a Christian caring for all. 'Suffer the little children to come unto me'.

This is of great concern for all Christians since it reflects badly on all who call on the name of Jesus Christ. This is a tragic example of the difference between Religion and Christianity.

Long may Christ's name be lifted up and praised as one who cares for all.

5 June 2014 at 09:47  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

Moloch's true and faithful servants.

5 June 2014 at 09:50  
Blogger Tom Mushroom said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 June 2014 at 09:53  
Blogger Jay Bee said...

There are more than nun's or the wider Catholic Church to blame for this. What other organisations were there to take in unmarried mothers and their children? What funding provision if any was made by their families or Irish society? What provision for welfare was made by the Irish State?

If we are tempted to be judgmental about the crimes of Catholicism we might do well to pause and ponder that we have no mass graves to find in our enlightened post-modern society because the “little problems” have been flushed down the sluice. Not 800 but Millions and growing by the hour.

5 June 2014 at 10:02  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Shadrach put it mildly:

"This is of great concern for all Christians since it reflects badly on all who call on the name of Jesus Christ. This is a tragic example of the difference between Religion and Christianity."

If I could find the words, I would not be so restrained.

Jay Bee is leading us with a traditional Catholic transfer of ownership incantation.

5 June 2014 at 10:16  
Blogger Jay Bee said...

William@10:16

I am neither a Catholic nor do I have any interest in defending them.

We are not without sin ourselves and it is all too easy to chuck stones at others or forget the plank in ones own eye.

5 June 2014 at 10:42  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Jay Bee

"I am neither a Catholic nor do I have any interest in defending them."

I am not a Catholic either, but will defend any Catholic who seeks to take ownership of past evils that have been done in his or her name. Forgiveness is not possible without it.

"We are not without sin ourselves and it is all too easy to chuck stones at others or forget the plank in ones own eye."

But isn't that what you have done with your 10:02 comment? You are the one throwing stones at post-modern, enlightened society whilst ignoring the plank in our (collective Christian) eye.

5 June 2014 at 11:11  
Blogger Tom Mushroom said...

Good for you Jay Bee.

5 June 2014 at 11:19  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

It wasn’t us, it was them, archbishop says

The archbishop of Tuam has issued a statement promising his full support for the inquiry that is to take place, not forgetting to wash his hands of the whole foul business and put the blame on somebody else:

”As the diocese did not have any involvement in the running of the home in Tuam we do not have any material relating to it in our archives. I understand that the material which the Bon Secours Sisters held, as managers of the Mother and Baby Home was handed over to Galway County Council and the health authorities in 1961. [. . .] While the Archdiocese of Tuam will cooperate fully nonetheless there exists a clear moral imperative on the Bon Secours Sisters in this case to act upon their responsibilities in the interests of the common good. [. . .]”

With public relations skills such as Archbishop Neary’s, no wonder the Church is such an easy target for its enemies.

5 June 2014 at 11:56  
Blogger IanCad said...

Thanks Sister Tibs.

Infanticide or neglect?

They will be remembered at least by a memorial plaque with their names etched upon.

No such monuments or remebrances for the aborted. And certainly no names.

Good posts all; Even where there is dissention.

5 June 2014 at 12:22  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

IanCad

Both are being suggested. Or at least willful neglect of the disabled babies, who had no prospect of being adopted. But I have deliberately not touched upon that in this post because my anger was elsewhere - at the crass way that the spokesman from the Archdiocese was handling things. Just how on earth do we as Catholics expect to be listened to when we ask the hard questions on subjects such as abortion, when we are playing "pass the buck" on the things for which the Church at the very least shares some degree of collective responsibility? It leaves us all wide open to the accusation which I have seen leveled many times before, that Roman Catholic pro-life campaigning ends at birth. It doesn't. Pro life is pro life, from the unborn to the elderly. Do people like Father Monaghan realise just how much ammunition they hand to the people who want nothing better than to throw bricks at the RCC? In the name of God, do we have to keep handing them the bloody bricks?

5 June 2014 at 12:32  
Blogger domics said...

frankly there's a big difference between 'the Catholic Church has not given proper burial to 800 children' compared to 'the Catholic Church has caused the death of 800 children'.
Could you guess what is the most popular version on the web?

5 June 2014 at 12:47  
Blogger Ivan said...


I'd have more respect for the likes Emer O'Toole, if they were even passably concerned about the thousands who die each day under the abortionists' knives even as this is written. As it is, their professional mourners' tears on order schtick, is worn thin. The main function of which is to serve as distraction and hyperbole. There is only so much smoke that these types can blow before one realises, that these raging hypocrites are not worth the time.

Sister Tiberias having suffered miscarriages is of course the genuine article and I mean no disrespect.

5 June 2014 at 12:48  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

I have read that these children were buried as they were because illegitimate children were denied baptism, and therefore could not be buried in consecrated ground. Is this true?

carl

5 June 2014 at 12:54  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

These children ranged in age from newborns to 9 years old, according to the 796 death records that had no corresponding cemetery records. Without exhumation, we have no way to be sure of ages. But I cannot imagine that these babies were not baptised if they were in the lifelong care of the Church, and if they were denied Baptism as well as burial because of their illegitimacy, then that in itself is an offence under Canon Law, I believe. Someone with more patience than I have would have to find the reference.

5 June 2014 at 12:57  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

And let's not dignify what was done with the word "burial". They were piled into a disused septic tank. Look at

http://philipboucher-hayes.com/2014/06/04/tuam-babies-the-evidence/

and it shows you exactly where they were.

5 June 2014 at 13:01  
Blogger domics said...

If we know that there were 796 deaths it is because the House did not hide them to the authorities.
So there is something missing in this story: if there was something unusual in these deaths the authorities could investigate but they did not.

5 June 2014 at 13:11  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Yes, I agree this story is missing many components.

1. How could the grave have been discovered in the 70s without all this coming to light at that time?

2. How did officials know of the deaths but not know about the disposition of the bodies?

3. The story said local residents looked after the grave site. How could the police not have known it was there?

carl

5 June 2014 at 13:20  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

It was believed that it was a death pit dating back to Famine times. Apparently until the historian started digging into the archive evidence, nobody associated it with the Home that had been there - I believe up to 2 days ago that was still the Garda's line. Now a lot more questions are being asked.

5 June 2014 at 13:21  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I am literally moved to tears while typing this imagining the pain of the mothers and their children. Children who 'died' without coroner's inquest as to why or how they died or that the death rate is five times the Irish national average at the time.

To add insult to grievous injury these innocents were dumped in a giant shit pit!

Now had it been Auschwitz or similar, I could have expected such atrocity - but this??

Criminal. Truly criminal.

5 June 2014 at 13:22  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

As to Point 2 I have no answer, Carl, other than the most likely one. Nobody cared enough to follow it up. Death recorded, no family to kick up a fuss - leave the nuns to deal with it.

5 June 2014 at 13:23  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

The scandal is the denial of a proper Christian burial for these children. The social causes of their poverty, treatment and the illnesses they suffered in Ireland at this time, is a separate although linked matter.

It is hard to imagine they were refused Baptism by the Church. That would be the greater crime before God and to these poor souls. The destiny of their immortal souls is of more importance than their mortal remains. At the time, although it was never a doctrine, and still isn't, the Church held to a notion of 'limbo' for the unbaptised i.e. they were denied entrance to Heaven.

Jesus wept.

5 June 2014 at 13:29  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

It has been suggested that the best way forward would be exhumation to date the remains - which would also give some evidence in some cases as to cause of death.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/general-news/it-is-possible-to-determine-cause-of-death-in-tuam-babies-expert-30331564.html

And if some of the deaths, as believed, are as late as the 1960s, there is a possibility of a criminal investigation.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/nuns-told-to-assist-in-mass-baby-grave-investigation-30331027.html

5 June 2014 at 13:29  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Pope Benedict, thankfully, gave the concept of Limbo a theological kicking quite a long time ago.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2007-04-20-popelimbo_N.htm

The Catechism states

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

5 June 2014 at 13:34  
Blogger Preacher said...

Whatever the causes of the deaths of these little ones, the heartless, cold, cynical disposal of their remains - dumped in an old water tank, is an indication of how the poor little souls were viewed by those who were entrusted with their welfare.
Amid all the excuses, where is there sign of remorse or sorrow, let alone apologies for this inexcusable act?.

5 June 2014 at 13:35  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jack

The scandal is that girls were turned out of their homes and sent to these places. The scandal is that these children were rejected by their families, suffered neglect and died. Don't minimize this by focusing on the ritual of burial.

And what happened to the mothers in the story? Were they rejected as well?

carl

5 June 2014 at 13:40  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Carl, if you really want the answer to that, there's a synopsis of Catherine Corless's report here

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/06/catherine-corless-synopsis-of-her-research-on-tuam-motherbaby-home/

It's pretty heartbreaking reading, if anyone's heart has not already broken at this story.

5 June 2014 at 13:42  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

carl jacobs at 12:54
Sister T at 12:57
Happy Jack at 13:29

The Catholic Church does in fact deny baptism to the children of unmarried mothers. I found this out, to my surprise, a few months ago when I approached my parish priest, Father F., on behalf of a young woman who wanted to have her baby baptised and had been told she couldn’t. Fr F. assured me that this is, indeed, the rule of the Church, but he was prepared to make an exception, on condition that a married couple would be the baby’s godparents.

In the end she had her baby baptised in one of the Protestant churches.

5 June 2014 at 13:44  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Uncle Brian, our Pope would not be impressed by that.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/blog/pope-francis-says-baptize-babies-of-unwed-mothers-because-they-chose-life-o/

And these children had already been taken from their mothers. The Church - indirectly - and the nuns and parish priest - directly - would have had spiritual responsibility for them. I doubt very much they were denied Baptism, other than those that died at birth.

5 June 2014 at 13:47  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Happy Jack-ass is not concerned for the cruel tragic life on earth or that innocents may have suffered abuse, neglect or even been murdered - all that that matters to him or her (whatever guise s/he is in this day), just that they may not have been Baptised, therefore in his warped mind, a 'sin' has been committed before his god and we can't have that now.

5 June 2014 at 13:59  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Carl, Happy Jack does not disagree, in principle. However, the treatment of pregnant, unmarried women and their children by families, and society at large, is not a particularly Roman Catholic failing. Such stigma, shame and labelling and consequential neglect occurred in Protestant states too - and in those of other religions too.

Jack is not minimising this aspect of it at all. It is a much wider debate. Remember the Canadian 'Butterbox Babies'? And the English Workhouse and Poor Law? And the shipping of British children to Australia in the 1950's and 1960's?

As a Catholic, what makes this all so personally shocking is the callous disposal of the bodies of these dead children who suffered in life. This is a denial of the Church's teachings on the right of a proper Christian burial. Catholics pray for the souls of the dead that they may enter Heaven. And, if you are correct about the refusal to Baptise them, (are you?) the scandal is much greater.

5 June 2014 at 14:00  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

HJ, frankly I'm horrified and shocked by all of it. And I don't deny in any way that similar abuses went on in the Protestant and secular homes. But I have never known any wrong where the defence "everyone else is doing it too" is any defence at all. The treatment of these children, before and after their deaths, and the treatment of their mothers was vile. Period.

5 June 2014 at 14:04  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Sister T

The link from Philip Boucher-Hayes was most informative. What seems to be known is:

1. There are close to 800 children who died at that home and no record exists about where they were buried.

2. There is local tradition and eyewitness testimony of children's bodies being present on that site.

The publicity will force investigation. If a large number of children's bodies are found under that ground, we will know for sure.

And then people are going to have to answer questions. Unfortunately, most of those questions needed to be asked four decades ago.

carl

5 June 2014 at 14:21  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jack

It was a Roman Catholic institution. You can't just say that is incidental. You can't absolve the Church by saying that the problem is essentially Irish in nature. The RCC makes universal claims that span cultures about human nature and redemption. Whatever the surrounding culture, this shouldn't have happened on the Church.

carl

5 June 2014 at 14:33  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, agreed and Jack was not offering such a defence.

Carl, Jack did not say it was "incidental" that it was a Catholic institution, nor that it was "essentially Irish in nature". And he certainly didn't "absolve" the Church. This treatment of unmarried women and their children went on across all religions, denominations and societies and still is in some parts of the world.

"Whatever the surrounding culture, this shouldn't have happened on the Church." Jack wouldn't disagree but thought you were a realist. If only the Church was not influenced by human culture. It is a human institution and constrained in its social actions by its understand of situations. However, it did behave in this way and it needs to be understood. And the same applies to all religions and denominations that make universal claims.

Jack has focussed on prayers for the dead and a proper Catholic funeral and also questioned whether you were right about the denial of Baptism to these children. Not because he wants to avoid these issues but because the eternal destiny of these children's souls cannot be attributed to "surrounding culture" or to changing understandings about redemption.

5 June 2014 at 15:28  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Happy Jack

Jack has focussed on prayers for the dead and a proper Catholic funeral and also questioned whether you were right about the denial of Baptism to these children.

Jack, perhaps you missed my comment addressed to you by name at 13:44. To this day it is the Church's official policy, worldwide, to deny baptism to the children of unmarried mothers.

Exceptions are certainly made. I myself have a grandson who was duly baptised although his father was still married, at that time, to his first wife. And, as I said in that comment, Father F. would have been willing to baptise the baby if a pair of godparents had been produced who were married to each other. But these are exceptions, not the rule.

5 June 2014 at 15:55  
Blogger John Thomas said...

Er, You Grace, I'm aware that in my comments to your site I tend to bang on about one particular issue (well, many actually, but one in particular), which dwarfs the deaths/interments you report here by a very large factor, and which those smug Guardian types (now relishing the chance, yet again, to bash the RCC) are very much guilty of. Yep, I mean abortion. Recently I read that there are 820 victims of this EVERY DAY (working day, that is). Rather bigger than the number of deaths in Ireland you report, terrible though those are. What really gets me is the gross hypocrisy of those who will go on and on about wicked Catholics, their own hands being rather more stained with blood than any Irish Catholic's ever were [I also am not RC].

5 June 2014 at 16:19  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Brian,
"To this day it is the Church's official policy, worldwide, to deny baptism to the children of unmarried mothers."

Not quite correct as Sister Tiberia pointed out. Practice varies according to the priest. The requirement is that the parent or parents commit to raising their children in the Catholic faith - married or unmarried. The parent and Godparents represent the infant in making the vows. The reason being the confusion this would create for the child in the later life and also the reduction of the Sacrament to a mere convention.

Jack doubts this applied to these children in Ireland as their mothers, willingly or unwilling, handed them over to the Church for fostering. He stands to be corrected on this. And even so, at the point of death or near death, Catholic teaching holds that any person can licitly Baptise an unbaptised person.

5 June 2014 at 16:30  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Article: "Nor did the mothers of these children have any choice about where they were taken, or what was to happen to their children."

An example of the tyranny of the majority creating social repression because the Roman Catholic Church operated its cultural hegemony in Ireland. That's not to say it didn't happen elsewhere too of course. I'm pretty sure places like North Wales had something similar, and with similar results, due to its Chapel culture.

5 June 2014 at 16:59  
Blogger Albert said...

An appalling story. In terms of the Catholic Church being at fault, a number of questions arise:

1. Was the neglect (etc.) a consequence of the policies or beliefs of the Catholic Church?
2. What did the local Catholic authorities know about this?

Some weeks ago, an elderly Irish told me some things about the Catholic Church she grew up in. Firstly, she said that all the priests and nuns she knew were good people (which is not to say they didn't cane children at school because they did). But, she said, Ireland was very poor. The Church largely took on the role of looking after the needy, because there was alternative in society. Moreover, and this was very important, a lot of the people who went into the religious orders and priesthood were totally unsuitable. They were uneducated and poor and went in because they had no alternative future.

None of this justifies or excuses what went on, but I think it is important not to impose a context on these terrible crimes that was not there.

5 June 2014 at 17:10  
Blogger Albert said...

...no alternative...

5 June 2014 at 17:11  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

This post smacks of Catholic bashing. We need to know more of the facts with interviews of witnesses who are still alive associated or working at the Convent, to ascertain how
why and who disposed of these bodies in this manner before making accusations.

With regard to babies going to Limbo. No Catholic I ever knew believed such a monstrous anti Catholic concept. Catholic culture ( well at least in Europe and I believe also in South America) where we hear our families express views discussing religious matters do not agree with obviously flawed edicts.Cruelty and savagery are not Catholic attributes regardless of some of the decisions made by our hierarchy.

We understand that mistakes are made and evil has even found its way into the Church and we must listen to God who is our conscience.We are taught the Devil comes in many guises .

The real respect, and one of the reasons I still call myself a Catholic is for the the majority of lay Catholic families who understand the essence of Catholicism better than a lot of the clergy. The low profile ordinary decent Catholics who for centuries have kept the spirit of Catholicism alive generation after generation in spite of the clergy.

The idea that a child being refused Baptism or a priest refusing to give burial rites to a Catholic who has not attended Mass is abhorrent in the extreme and not part of the inherent Catholic ethos.
It is a grievous sin and the clergy responsible will suffer the fires of eternal damnation.





5 June 2014 at 17:16  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Happy Jack

As to the factual question of whether or not those Irish children who died had been baptised or not, presumably there are parish records of some kind that will provide the answer.

As to the Church policy prohibiting the baptism of the children of unmarried mothers, I suggest this test. Try doing what I did a few months ago: at the end of mass, go up to your parish priest and tell him a young woman of your acquaintance wants to have her baby baptised but has been told she can't, and see what he says. In my case I was telling Fr F. the plain truth: I thought the woman must have been misinformed. But Fr F. enlightened me: she was right. Church policy is exactly that, though a priest is entitled to make exceptions in deserving cases.

5 June 2014 at 17:32  
Blogger Christopher Degagne said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 June 2014 at 18:02  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Uncle Brian

I can tell you now exactly what my beloved PP would say. Of course she can have the baby baptised here, is she happy with the baptism being done at the 11.20 mass on Sunday morning because as many of the parish as possible like to be there to celebrate, of course she can use the hall afterwards, does she have a partner, of course the partner is more than welcome, and when they're ready would they like some details about the lovely group who do the marriage preparation courses here.

I can tell you, a lot of Catholic marriages started this way in our parish. With the welcoming in love of someone who had already been shown the door elsewhere.

5 June 2014 at 18:04  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

This kind of history revision reminds in this current year one of the Inspectors favourite causes. He has just commissioned a memorial plaque…

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“1914 – 2014. Shot at Dawn. Commemorating 100 Years of Cowardice in the British Army”

They ran in an attempt to secure their tomorrow, when they saw their comrades were unlikely to make it past today

May their glorious desertion and dereliction of duty be forever held dear in a nations grateful heart.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To be mounted in a place of honour ABOVE those whose lives were lost serving their country. Because as we now know, THEY were the REAL victims of war.

As so we come to Sister Tibs whine. Unmarried mothers thrown out of the family home. They had to go somewhere if not the streets. The Irish State virtually bankrupt, so it was to the charity of the church these wretches went. It was a time when the population in general didn’t have enough to eat, and thus the high mortality rate is imaginable in those circumstances.

By the way, these girls would have known what the score would be if they conceived out of wedlock. They weren’t stupid you know. They would have heard of this

happening to older girls when they were younger. BUT IT DIDN’T STOP THEM GOING AHEAD THEMSELVES – DID IT ? You look after yourself in this life if you can – if you can’t well hard bloody luck, you get what’s given to you, and you’ll be damn grateful for it too !!!

5 June 2014 at 18:11  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Let’s see. Almighty God prevented from taking in these innocent dead souls because the hand of man did not baptise them, is he ?

Christ Almighty ! – the sheer arrogance and presumption of some you pious crowd here would try the patience of the saintliest of men.

As for the bodies, they were disposed off. They were no longer needed by their former owners. There is nothing sacred about corpses or this man’s hair clippings come to that.



5 June 2014 at 18:12  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Inspector

I think you've managed to read what I wrote and missed my whole point. God bless you. :)

5 June 2014 at 18:13  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Danjo

No smearing Wales without evidence

Phil

5 June 2014 at 18:21  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Brian, Happy Jack does not need to conduct an such experiment. He knows an unmarried single mother who encountered no problems at all with having her child Baptised. All she had to do was agree to live by her faith and raise her child as a Catholic.

This is an issue for a separate discussion should the opportunity arise.

Albert, Father Ray Blake has posted some interesting insights. He poses the question:

" ... do these scandals arise because these institutions were Catholic or because they were Irish?"

He observes:

"It is either that Catholicism was dysfunctional, or Ireland was dysfunctional, the other possibility is that Irish Catholicism was particularly dysfunctional."

His thoughts:

"Religious men and women do not exist in a vacuum, they are in the world but the they are not supposed to be of the world."

Helpfully, he gives a cultural context:

"I remember an Irish Mercy Sister, now dead, saying to me when I asked why she had come to England in the 1930s to pursue her vocation saying, "Because in Ireland we had nothing, you English left us with nothing, except our faith and our poverty. The Irish State expected the Sisters and Brothers to deal with the people it itself was unable to deal with, with no resources, except what they could beg in Ireland itself".

She herself had left school at thirteen, her family survived on money sent by her father who did seasonal farm work in England and older brothers who had emigrated to England and America. Her mother brought up the family, whenever the father returned there was another pregnancy, she as a child was barefoot and often hungry, it was only when she became a Sister she had shoes all year round. "My mother and the older girls would go hungry so the boys and the younger children could survive", she said, it seems as if half her brothers and sisters had died in childhood. I remember asking her why the boys were fed in preference to the girls, her reply was interesting, "The boys needed to be strong in order to swing a shovel, it was our investment in our future!""


A picture seems to be emerging in the popular media of evil nuns deliberately killing, neglecting and mistreating children and secretly dumping their bodies in a septic tank. Al very sensational. Time will tell if this is true.

In Ireland at the time, social services, healthcare and education were largely run by the Church. Any malpractice or problem at a school, an orphanage, a hospital, a care home or hospice will be laid at the door of the Catholic Church.

No, its not an example "of the tyranny of the majority creating social repression because the Roman Catholic Church operated its cultural hegemony in Ireland."

Its all slightly more complex. However, as Father Blake says,
"Tuam adds yet another horror to the huge list of Irish Church scandals. I can't, I don't want to defend them, I find it disgusting and unsettling ..."

5 June 2014 at 18:21  
Blogger Tom Mushroom said...

Uncle Brian

Ask your PP what policy he is referring to.

The Code of Canon Law is silent about the marriage, or otherwise, of the mother/parents, so far as I can see.

All it says is "there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason." (Canon 868.1.2)

5 June 2014 at 18:26  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Mother Theresa

If you don't want or cannot care for your babies give them to me

Such a shame they were not born in Calcutta!

Phil

5 June 2014 at 18:27  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Tibs. One thinks not. This is what you agree with...

“. Were the Tuam Bon Secours sisters an anomalous, rebellious sect? Or were church practices much the same the country over?

AND

“That it is the Church's undying shame that this was allowed to happen on their watch.”

One is thoroughly sick of the continuing painting of the Irish Catholic Church as an evil organisation staffed with blackguards from whom Himmler’s SS was able to take each and every idea they ever needed.

One’s only surprise is that YOU are in on the act.

Why ?

5 June 2014 at 18:36  
Blogger Len said...

It would seem the way these infants were treated in death was no better than the suffering they endured in their painfully short lives.

'Newly unearthed reports show that they suffered malnutrition and neglect, which caused the deaths of many, while others died of measles, convulsions, TB, gastroenteritis and pneumonia'.

'It would seem that several establishments both Catholic and Protestant - for 'fallen women' across Ireland had astonishingly high infant mortality rates.

(Which makes one wonder exactly what was going on?)






5 June 2014 at 18:37  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

If only Ireland had been more enlightened at the time. Then these children could have been labeled "fetuses" at birth, drowned in a bucket out back, dumped into the selfsame cistern, and no one today would raise an eyebrow.

Beware the prophets of modernity who lament the fate of these children, for their solution to the problem would have been to kill them at the earliest convenient moment. Their interest is to defend their autonomy to do what they want with whom they want wherever they want - all of it devoid of any obligation.

And the children conceived be damned.

carl

5 June 2014 at 18:42  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Because I think that the deaths of 800 children at a mother and baby home, a mortality rate of 5 times Ireland's national average in that period, whether through deliberate neglect or not, to be an outrage, then and now. I would consider it an outrage no matter who ran the home. Had a similar discovery been made at one of the Protestant or secular run homes, my outrage would have been the same, but I wouldn't have needed to be the one to write the piece, His Grace would have done it himself.

Whatever you think of the mothers (and I don't consider their treatment justice either), the children were innocent. The 1944 Health board report on this home was damning. So if the archdiocese is seriously playing the "we didn't know" card then I wonder just how they didn't know. And I refuse utterly to say we should view it in the context of the time. This is a scandal, then and now. And if we ever as Catholics want anyone to take our views seriously again, we have to face what was done in our names.

5 June 2014 at 18:43  
Blogger Len said...

Inspector, Bullying Sister Tiberius does you no credit at all.
Show a little respect....

And trying to justify what happened to these infants under the auspices of the Catholic Church just shows a total lack of any sort of morality.

5 June 2014 at 18:43  
Blogger William Lewis said...

There have been a couple of Catholics here registering their anger and frustration and then deleting their comments. First Tom Mushroom and then Christopher Degagne. One wonders at the reasons behind their self censorship.

5 June 2014 at 18:45  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Tibs. Why did you do this.

It was a hard time in Ireland for all during those years. The weak didn’t survive the privations. That’s just how it was. It would have been considerably worse without the RCC there.

Len, you are a bloody disgrace.


5 June 2014 at 18:49  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Inspector

Unmarried mothers thrown out of the family home.

And why should a girl be thrown out of her family home for getting pregnant? Is this what a father does?

But then I have also read that Priests ordered families to send girls to these homes. Is this also true?

carl

5 June 2014 at 18:50  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

It's an interesting point about the fathers.

Inspector - can you tell us just what happened to them? In the cases where a father could actually be identified?

5 June 2014 at 18:53  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jack

For someone who denies that he tried to make the Catholic nature of this home incidental, you sure are writing a lot of things that imply it was incidental.

carl

5 June 2014 at 18:54  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...


Carl.......Oh forget it

Tibs. Suggest you contact the mothers and ask THEM why they engaged in sex outside wedlock with men who did a runner...

5 June 2014 at 19:03  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Inspector

My mother always drummed into me that it took two to tango, and if the result was not what one wanted, the blame was not on one side.

5 June 2014 at 19:05  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T,

The 1944 Health board report on this home was damning. So if the archdiocese is seriously playing the "we didn't know" card then I wonder just how they didn't know.

Was the home under the jurisdiction of the Diocese? It sounds like it was under the jurisdiction of the Health board. Why didn't they act?

5 June 2014 at 19:07  
Blogger Albert said...

Uncle Brian,

If you say this policy is church policy, where is it written? My PP was talking to me about this recently, because at the end of the Catholic rite of baptism there is a blessing of the parents as husband and wife. He said he misses it out when they are not married, but he mentioned it because on this occasion, he had two families, and he blessed one couple but not the other! Ergo, it is not the policy to refuse baptism if the parents are not married.

Happy Jack, you normally produce canon law on occasions such as this. What does it say?

5 June 2014 at 19:11  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Frankly, I'd have to go back and look through Catherine's report again, Albert, and I'm not sure I can stomach it. Not today, at any rate. To the best of my knowledge the blame is being put squarely on the nuns that ran the Home. But was policy for these homes decided at the level of the individual Orders, or at a higher level? This is the question that people seem to be being cagey about. I really really want to see a transparent public enquiry which is probably the only way these questions will be answered. And I still think that Father Monaghan is a diocesan liability for what he said.

5 June 2014 at 19:11  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Carl, what part of this didn't you understand?

"It is either that Catholicism was dysfunctional, or Ireland was dysfunctional, the other possibility is that Irish Catholicism was particularly dysfunctional."

Do read the whole post. It was written to counter this statement from an atheist:

"An example of the tyranny of the majority creating social repression because the Roman Catholic Church operated its cultural hegemony in Ireland.2

It was a tad more complex.

So tell Jack, how big were Calvinists then and now in providing social care and welfare where none existed?

5 June 2014 at 19:12  
Blogger Owl said...

Just a couple of observations:

My father grew up not far from Tuam and his cousin ( a lovely nun) was at Tuam.

Neither of them had any knowledge of any wrongdoing.

Frannie and Barry discovered the bones in 1975. Why has this suddenly become public knowledge some 40+ years later?

Child motality rates were higher than thought because children were often not registered at the time of birth (I know that my father was registered eventually as a twin of his younger brother although he was already two years old!). If he had died before the age of two then he wouldn't have been registered at all.

This was quite common practice in rural areas in those times.

I have a bad feeling about this whole thing, the evidence I have seen so far tells me very little and I have not yet seen the cause of death on those certificates.

It all seems a bit too convenient for a bit of church bashing for my liking but I will reserve judgement for the time being.

5 June 2014 at 19:13  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T. @ 1911 agreed.

5 June 2014 at 19:14  
Blogger Albert said...

Happy Jack,

How big were Calvinists then and now in providing social care and welfare where none existed?

I don't know the answer to that question, but it does seem to me that the Catholic Church would have a better reputation today if it just hadn't bothered to provide education and social care.

5 June 2014 at 19:17  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Let us of course not forget the Magdalene laundries. Another thoroughly wicked setup that took in similar off the streets, gave them board and lodging, and saved them from becoming prostitutes too.

5 June 2014 at 19:17  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

My understanding, Owl, is that when the bones were discovered, they were believed to be a much older burial dating back to the Famine, and it is only recently that they have been associated with this Home. Presumably carbon dating could settle this?

5 June 2014 at 19:18  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

I do not believe the nuns would dispose of 800 bodies by tossing them in a septic tank.It cannot be true.This is just too fanciful.

Although admittedly if the Inspector is the product of Irish Catholicism then I do understand why non Catholics might think it is possible.One wonders what his own mother would make of his savage critical attacks on women.


5 June 2014 at 19:34  
Blogger Owl said...

Sister Tiberius,

I agree, an investigation would shed some light.

Frannie (in the podcast) didn't describe the bones at all, i.e. small or large, human or animal etc. We don't really know what we are actually talking about.

Catherine Corless (in the podcast) stated that she did not find any burial records for the children who died (at the home) in other graveyards. I have heard that illegitemate children were sometimes buried in unmarked graves, i.e. not on hallowed ground in times gone by so the idea of the names not being recorded cannot be ruled out.

There just seems to me to be too much drum beating with too little knowledge to support it at the moment.

5 June 2014 at 19:42  
Blogger Tom Mushroom said...

William Lewis @ 18:45

There's no particular mystery about my "self censorship".

Your right: I realised my anger was getting the better of me.

(Anger in sympathy with Sr Tiberia by the way.)

I then realised that I needed to be much more considered in my judgement. There is no other agenda than that.

5 June 2014 at 19:45  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Inspector

Not sure what the lecture on British cowardice was about, but it seems to me that Sister T probably has more backbone in her little finger than could be found in your entire spinal column.

5 June 2014 at 19:51  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, you maynot be aware but Archbishop Michael Neary's statement was fuller than has been reported in some quarters.

He acknowledged the horror suffered by women "in giving up their babies for adoption, or witnessing their death. The pain and brokenness they endured is beyond our capacity to understand ... Regardless of the time lapse involved, this is a matter of great public concern which ought to be acted upon urgently."

He then added: "While the Archdiocese of Tuam will co-operate fully, nonetheless there exists a clear moral imperative on the Bon Secours Sisters in this case to act upon their responsibilities in the interest of the common good."

Religious Orders do not come under the jurisdiction of a Diocese. They have their own hierarchies.

You say you are in "total agreement" with this:

"Do not say Catholic prayers over these dead children. Don't insult those who were in life despised and abused by you."

There is no evidence these children were despised or deliberately abused. Insufficient resources, children with special needs and disabilities, overcrowding and an Irish State without capacity left the Church to provide social welfare as best it could. This is also worthy of some comment or acknowledgement. (Yes, Carl, Jack knows; he knows.)

Do spare a thought for the good women (surely there were some?) who dedicated their lives, then and now, to helping others by joining the Congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours.

5 June 2014 at 19:51  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Kudos to the Archbishop in that case (and thank God he's got more brains than his secretary.)

But as for the second point, I disagree. Read Catherine's report, and the eyewitness accounts of the people who went to school with these children.

And I have no doubt there were good women amongst this congregation - and I will remember them in their prayers. For seeing what they saw and became implicit in by association must have broken their hearts.

5 June 2014 at 19:55  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Tom Mushroom

Understood. I wasn't trying to suggest an agenda. Thanks for the explanation.

5 June 2014 at 19:59  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Albert at 19:11

I am simply reporting a conversation I had with my local parish priest. I can only repeat what I said earlier. A woman with a young baby told me she'd asked to have it baptised and had been refused. I thought she must be mistaken, so I spoke to Fr F. about it, and his reply was what I have stated in earlier comments. He would make a special concession and perform the baptism, but only if she could produce a married couple as bona fide godparents.

And he was quite explicit that this was the policy of the whole church: not just in his parish, not just in the local diocese, and not just in Brazil.

5 June 2014 at 20:01  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

William Lewis. Disappointed with you.

The point about our darling cowards is that if those men were to be flown back today, un-shot, they’d all be minor celebrities in this mixed up world. So what we don’t do is judge yesterdays ways with today’s sensibilities, do you we now ? After all, we don’t want to be considered uninformed fools, sure you'll agree...

Cressida. One is in no doubt that few men would dare to tell you of all people to shut up, so brace yourself for this..

SHUT UP !!!


5 June 2014 at 20:01  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Also, read this.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/analysis/tuam-mother-and-baby-home-is-a-scandal-of-church-and-state-271013.html

Particularly this quote.

"What most never realised was that the nuns tendered for the business of running these homes and received very generous government funding, equivalent to the average industrial wage, for each mother and child in their so-called care. In addition, they profited handsomely from the forced adoptions they transacted, which saw 97% of all non-marital children taken for adoption in 1967.

With that knowledge it is unconscionable that the youngest babies, who should at least have been breast-fed by their mothers, could have died of malnutrition as is revealed on some of the death certificates meticulously uncovered by local Galway historian Catherine Corless in relation to the Tuam grave pit."

5 June 2014 at 20:03  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

NO !!!!
Bullies do not scare me. You are a coward and a pathetic excuse for a man. Your constant belittling of and attacks on women only endear you to the other misfits on this site.
Consult a priest (not an Irish one)
FAC UT VIVAS !!!

5 June 2014 at 20:13  
Blogger Albert said...

Uncle Brian,

It seems evident from a variety of comments here, that it is not, in fact, the policy of the Church - although it could be of a particular diocese, I suppose.

For the record, I have just Googled the question and found the Holy Father baptized the child of an unmarried couple (although, in this pontificate, the fact that the Pope does something does not mean he isn't breaking the rules!).

5 June 2014 at 20:15  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Inspector, I do fear you are being somewhat harsh...this is a sad story by anyone's reckoning, and I shall say a prayer in the Lady Chapel this evening for all those poor lost souls.

5 June 2014 at 20:34  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...


Cressida. You’re the damn misfit around here. Cranmer told YOU to shove off, did he not ? ? Not this man.

Any attempt to emasculate the Inspector will be met by rage. He’s going to his grave as a real man. It’s the vogue these days for women to be attracted to men who’d make good ‘soul mates’. Then a couple of years later they’re crying to their girl friends that they came home un-expectedly and found him wearing her knickers and trying on her clothes.

At least a woman knows that would not be her destiny with the Inspector...


5 June 2014 at 20:36  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

>Sister Tiberia, come now, that particular piece is riddled with hyperbole.

5 June 2014 at 20:42  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Quite. But if the State was paying for these women, then it heads off the argument that there was no money for their care which has been advanced by some people here. Roll on the inquiry.

5 June 2014 at 20:49  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

The Irish are a hardy lot. Much more than the English. It is not inconceivable that this is because the weak strains were lost in those hard times up to the 1960s.

5 June 2014 at 20:51  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Then a couple of years later they’re crying to their girl friends that they came home un-expectedly and found him wearing her knickers and trying on her clothes

BRILLIANT


Phil

5 June 2014 at 20:59  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 June 2014 at 21:02  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Inspector, I was attracted to a man who proved to me, in small things and large, that when he gave his word, he kept it, that when he fathered my son he cherished our little boy as he cherished me, and I can say that in ten years of marriage, he has never shown the slightest hint that he wished to try on my underwear.

And who is as outraged as I have been by this story.

5 June 2014 at 21:03  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Albert, Mr Mushroom answered the Canon Law point earlier.

Here's the run down:

Canon. 868
"For an infant to be baptised lawfully it is required:

1 that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent;

2 that there be a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this."

Plenty of room for discretion on the part of the Priest.

5 June 2014 at 21:06  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, Happy Jack will invoke 'Explorer's Law' here with regard to your husband and the Inspectors suggestion:

"A lack of evidence proves the point: that which we suspect must be there or it wouldn't be hidden so well."

5 June 2014 at 21:13  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

LOL HJ. Will have to show this thread to the husband later :)

5 June 2014 at 21:20  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Cranmer loves me. We had a slight falling out of my loyalty to Dodo who is now dead and departed.
Anyway I seem to remember you being told to go as well but the prostrating begging and sobbing melted HG's Christian heart.

Interesting to note how Phil related to dressing up in corsets...not a surprise!

This may come as a shock to you Inspector but the days of dragging a woman by her hair along the ground into your cave in a leopard skin loin cloth have gone. All the jungle chest beating is not bringing those days back.You are going to have to try something different .

5 June 2014 at 21:25  
Blogger Albert said...

Happy Jack,

I guess the issue then is with the second paragraph. However, if the Church wanted to ban baptizing such children the canons could so easily say so.

5 June 2014 at 21:36  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

Can I suggest that you read carefully the BBC report on this.

The church does not have the records for these children, because they were given to Galway County Council. If you read the report to the end you will realise that a) the person who researched this got the numbers because they got access to the records from the council b) the children are named c) their cause of death is recorded. The real issue here is how these children were buried, but this story is being blown up into something that it simply is not.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27710206

5 June 2014 at 21:49  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

“Anyway I seem to remember you being told to go as well but the prostrating begging and sobbing melted HG's Christian heart”

No such happening took place, you harlot.

5 June 2014 at 21:50  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Albert, there is no ban on Baptising any child because of the marital status of parents. This is of secondary importance.

The Church has a duty to preserve the integrity of the Sacrament. Recently Cardinal Kasper referred to the growing number of "baptised pagans" in the Church.

It seems very reasonable to Jack for the priest to inquire into the future religious intentions of parent(s) who present children for Baptism.

Cressida, Happy Jack suggests the Inspector should consider offering a home to a couple of cats, one male and one female, and observe their loyalty to one another and how they take care of each other. Only two mind, not nine like Len!

Sister Tiberia, if your husband goes silent and/or blushes you should become suspicious.

5 June 2014 at 21:51  
Blogger Albert said...

Happy Jack,

That seems absolutely right to me.

5 June 2014 at 21:54  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Che Yeoh, time will tell and one wonders why the story has broken now.

The 'narrative' from the left and those opposed to the Church, is that the nuns deliberately chose to ignore the humanity of the “illegitimate” children in their care and saw them and their mothers as sub-human. There are suggestions of infanticide and wilfully allowing children to die. The story goes that Irish society, the Church and State collectively despised them and their mothers.

Jack understands there's a rather significant issue scheduled to come before the Oireachtas Éireann soon which requires an
amendment to the Irish Constitution.

5 June 2014 at 22:05  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Jack..I really don't think cats copulating is a suitable sex education lesson for the inspector. Danjo could be right in thinking the inspector is already indulging in that kind of beast back to back activity and I don't think he needs any more encouragement.

5 June 2014 at 22:08  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Inspector, manners, Sir.

5 June 2014 at 22:08  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Cressida, Jack was referring to neutered and spayed cats!

5 June 2014 at 22:09  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...


Jack. The Inspector has made himself perfectly clear. He will not be nagged into submission by some gin spilling harridan.


5 June 2014 at 22:22  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

'There are suggestions..'

Yes, and that's what they are just now - suggestions. At the end of that report that I gave the link to, it states that 'most of the children died of sickness or malnutrition.' If there were a significant number died from malnutrition, why not give the numbers when they have them in front of them? Why couple it with sickness? And given that some of these women were coming in off the street, is is remarkable that some of them did die of malnutrition? As I say, this is being blown into something that it simply is not and can't even be inferred. These aren't children that disappeared. Their deaths were recorded and the cause of death. Right now, children are disappearing from children's homes up and down the country, but the BBC is not exercising its considerable power to find them. Why are they running with this?

5 June 2014 at 22:28  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Cheery byes I'm off now Jack.
PS
I don't drink Inspector. I will leave you to your drunken spittle flecked rant.
Enjoy !

5 June 2014 at 22:28  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jack

The story broke now because an historian put together three pieces of information:

1. The common belief that children are interred at that site.

2. The co-location of that site with and old home for unwed mothers.

3. The unknown whereabouts of nearly 800 bodies of children who died at that school.

It doesn't take much to connect the dots. Now, no one has seen the bodies since the original eyewitness report from the 70s. No one knows for sure who is buried there, or why - if anyone is buried there at all. It might be an old burial ground from the famine. But the site will be dug up. And if they find the remains of 800 children, then the correlation is too high to ignore.

Yes, I read your whole post. You are vindicating by faint prosecution. You are not denying culpability so much as presenting alternative suspects for consideration. It's the equivalent of chaff. It smears and blurs the picture. Here is how it sounds to me:

"Is it the Irish? Is it Catholicism? Is it the Irish Catholicism? Or is it just the common fault found in man? It's pretty much everywhere, you know. Other religions, too. It's a very complex subject."

Subtext: It's not really about Rome, so don't turn this into an anti-Roman apologetic. And the very first thing you wanted to talk about was ... burial rites. That was your understanding of the big scandal in connection to Rome. The children died in the care of Rome and the big problem related to Rome is how they were buried. Girls were forced into these Catholic homes and the big problem is how they were buried.

Don't you see how that looks?

carl

5 June 2014 at 22:41  
Blogger Happy Jack said...


Che Yeoh, you ask "Why are they running with this?"

It is news worthy and a part of Irish history that needs to be confronted. It should be reported. However, timing is everything and it seems the story has been there for some time.

Carl suggested earlier:

"Beware the prophets of modernity who lament the fate of these children, for their solution to the problem would have been to kill them at the earliest convenient moment. Their interest is to defend their autonomy to do what they want with whom they want wherever they want - all of it devoid of any obligation."

And as Happy Jack pointed out, there is a vote coming before the Oireachtas Éireann next year that requires amendment to the constitution.

5 June 2014 at 23:08  
Blogger Shadrach said...

The lack of concern shown to these mothers appals me. My maternal grandfather was born in Sudbury Workhouse as an illegitimate child in 1885. If this kind of behaviour had been going on there, I would not now exist. Fatherless children have always been around. I also have an aunt that got pregnant when she was working at Chequers. No, it was not the PM, but fortunately she found a man willing to take her on. Passion is Passion and Jesus was compassionate to such circumstances. It is such a shame that the church has been so lacking in compassion in their pious indignation.

5 June 2014 at 23:50  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Carl, yes , now you've pointed it out, Jack can see how he might be interpreted that way by someone who holds a different faith view.

Irish Catholicism at the time was particularly harsh, judgemental and authoritarian. The country was also poor and its population lived on or below the bread line. Death was ever present. These are critical factors that cannot be ignored.

Incidentally, some attribute the harshness of Irish Catholicism at the time to the influence of the heresy of 'Jansenism'. This is a Catholic version of Calvinism that polluted thinking in 19th century Ireland.

Jack finds it interesting that you accuse him of defending Rome because he focussed on the significance of a Catholic funeral and Baptism.

As a Calvinist funerals don't matter much to you. What's the point - the person is either in Heaven or Hell? Catholics don't believe this. We believe prayers for the dead do make a difference. And in your theology God has predetermined the destiny of souls before creation. Again, their earthly treatment and how this might impact on their redemption and receptivity to faith doesn't count.

Catholics don't think this way.

Jack's question, as reframed by you, is valid:

"Is it the Irish? Is it Catholicism? Is it the Irish Catholicism? Or is it just the common fault found in man? It's pretty much everywhere, you know. Other religions, too. It's a very complex subject."

Well, it is all the above.

And he also stands by the simplistic subtext you presented:

"It's not really about Rome, so don't turn this into an anti-Roman apologetic."

Well, it isn't about Rome and you can turn it into an attack on Rome if you wish.

And in talking about a Catholic funeral, Jack was considering the eternal destination of these children - and how the nuns viewed this. And if this wasn't in the forefronts of the nuns minds, then God have mercy on them. The scandal is not in connection with Rome. The scandal would be that these nuns actually did dehumanise these children in life, indicated by the way they treated them in death, finding their souls unworthy of prayer.

Do you understand now?

6 June 2014 at 01:32  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

And Carl, tell Jack what you believe happens to the souls of infants and children who die without Baptism or accepting Jesus into their hearts - without personal culpability for sin?

Heaven or Hell?

6 June 2014 at 01:53  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jack

No, I don't have any desire to turn this into an anti-Roman apologetic. But your comments are like the comments of a man whose first reaction to a crime scene is not "This is terrible" but rather "I didn't do it."

Whatever the context, this happened under the auspices of the RCC. That means the RCC has to own up to its part without excuses. It needs to let others mitigate the guilt - if such mitigation exists. And there is much to account for. It is not just the deaths but the whole system. Why were girls sent to these places? On whose authority? Why were the children taken without consent? Why was the mortality rate so high? How much income was received from the state and from adoptions? Were the children neglected and mistreated? Why was there no record of the burials? There are many questions to answer, and all of them fall squarely on the doorstep of the RCC.

And do you see what you did in the rest if the post? You want to talk about funerals and infant salvation. Again you present the image if someone who wants to change the subject. Those are important issues. I grant that. But the appearance you give is of someone trying to shift the spotlight onto anything but the dead bodies and the system that produced them.

Don't say it's a conspiracy about an abortion vote.
Don't say it's a reflection of harsh impoverished primitive Ireland that somehow caught the RCC in an undertow. Don't say it's an evil Protestant influence that corrupted the pure doctrine of the Catechism. Those are all excuses intended to communicate a message - "The RCC isn't guilty." Well, it's guilty of something - and that something is more substantial than not burying a body in consecrated ground.

carl

6 June 2014 at 04:03  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

"This may come as a shock to you Inspector but the days of dragging a woman by her hair along the ground into your cave in a leopard skin loin cloth have gone"

If you are right ......50 Shades of Grey...why then so popular?

Phil

6 June 2014 at 05:20  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Carl

I agree that the RCC has questions to answer. However nothing would really surprise me, it happened in Irelamd. Where it was acceptable to murder a widow ed mother of 10

Phil

6 June 2014 at 05:43  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

Whatever the context, this happened under the auspices of the RCC.

"Auspices" is the curious word there. It seems to acknowledge that perhaps the Church herself was not in fact jurisdictionally in charge or responsible, but you want to stick the blame on her anyway. Much depends here on whether the Ordinary of the community was the bishop or the community itself.

6 June 2014 at 08:52  
Blogger Len said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6 June 2014 at 09:33  
Blogger domics said...

"What most never realised was that the nuns tendered for the business of running these homes and received very generous government funding, equivalent to the average industrial wage, for each mother and child in their so-called care. In addition, they profited handsomely from the forced adoptions they transacted, which saw 97%"

Indeed this should be an incentive to maintain the children in life.

6 June 2014 at 09:33  
Blogger Len said...

The tragedy of the heartless way these infants were treated, rejected mistreated and then dumped like so much garbage into a pit is made even more tragic(if possibly ) by those who attempt to condone what was done in the name of their religion.
Do they have no shame, no guilt no remorse?.
It seems their only reaction is to cover up, and to condone as they have done in cases of abuse of which their Church has a long history.
No shame , no remorse , no repentance only an attempt to absolve the Roman Church ..
We may at least see a change of attitude with Pope Francis.

6 June 2014 at 09:35  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Domics, what is being said (rightly or wrongly) is that this was indeed an incentive to maintain the "adoptable" children in life, and the neglect was of the disabled ones (mentally or physically) who were unlikely to be adopted. Whether true or not (and I sincerely hope it to be entirely untrue) this is all the more reason for a full and transparent enquiry as fast as possible so that this rumour if untrue can be laid to rest.

6 June 2014 at 09:37  
Blogger domics said...

Len, please, abuses of children and women are recorded also in Protestant homes and workhouse both in Ireland and in England, but this do not lead me to accuse the Protestant or Anglican Church.

6 June 2014 at 09:45  
Blogger domics said...

Nuns received funding to keep the children and not only for adoptions.
I guess that funds for children with disabilities were even greater.

6 June 2014 at 09:52  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Look at the statistics for the overcrowding of this home in the 1940s, and also for the condition of the children. The Irish Health board did the inspection, and the like is on one of my links posted above. I forget which one. It's grim reading

6 June 2014 at 09:57  
Blogger Tom Mushroom said...

Albert @ 8.52

As a Catholic, I’m immensely saddened and shocked by these allegations.

There is undoubtedly an Irish dimension to this. So it’s true that famines, poverty, homelessness, worklessness and endless migrations over centuries allowed little time and opportunity for finer feelings.

However while they explain, they do not fully justify, Jack’s correct assessment that “Irish Catholicism at the time was particularly harsh, judgemental and authoritarian.”

To put it at its simplest, children have a right to love and safety, no matter what is happening in adults’ lives, nor who the adult is.

If these allegations are true, it does not matter whether they happened under the “auspices” of the diocese or the religious order. They happened under people calling themselves Catholic Christians.

As a priest once said to me, “People will forgive a priest anything but unkindness.” By extension, that applies to the Church.

Where I would ask Carl and Phil Roberts help is to acknowledge that not all Irish Catholics, then and now, are guilty by association.

I think we all need to bide our time.

It’s legitimate to test the information as it comes.

6 June 2014 at 09:59  
Blogger Timbo said...

Albert these were Nuns, under Church discipline and authority, whoever the actual 'line manager' was! Your arguments are Jesuitical and do you neither you or your Church any credit.

6 June 2014 at 10:00  
Blogger Len said...

Domics,

If you look through my posts you will see that I have also said this happened in Protestant homes..
As sister Tibs has remarked we need a full investigation of exactly what happened in these homes... Catholic and Protestant...

6 June 2014 at 10:14  
Blogger Len said...

Domics, To add further to my comment the article is about the Roman Catholic church?.

6 June 2014 at 10:17  
Blogger domics said...

Overcrowding? but it were mostly the authorities that sent the women in these houses!

6 June 2014 at 10:22  
Blogger domics said...

OK Len, thanks.

6 June 2014 at 10:23  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

As I've said already, my outrage would have been the same no matter who ran the home. But had it been anyone but the RCC, or one of their orders, I have no doubt that His Grace would have written the article himself. Since it was a Catholic order, I offered to write it in the hopes of heading off the knee jerk responses of "Catholic baiting" All the questions that are now being asked should have been asked 40 years ago, as Carl pointed out, and we are yet to have confirmed whether the home was under the direct control of the Order or overseen by the local Bishop. But the only way to stop the accusations is a proper inquest.

Sadly, the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has been severely damaged in recent years, some of it justified. I have friends who are priests, and I have seen their immense anger and grief at what has gone on in the Church they loved and served well. Now, if there is to be any hope of rebuilding the Church after all the damage, the starting points have to be transparency, honesty and love. Only from there can we go forward.

6 June 2014 at 10:32  
Blogger domics said...

indeed! allegations must first be justified. If someone tells me that at that time illegitimate children were buried in unmarked graves I can not marvel if these names are not found in local cemeteries. And I do not think it's so hard to know whether this is true or not before start an international press campaign.

6 June 2014 at 10:51  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Up to two days ago, the Garda was still saying it was a Famine burial site and no investigation will take place. It's only the pressure that's been put on by the allegations going public that mean there's going to be an investigation in the first place.

6 June 2014 at 10:59  
Blogger Albert said...

For the sake of clarity, I have no doubt that something terrible has happened here. My argument is that those responsible should be held to account or blamed, not those who weren't. That means awaiting the evidence, not beginning with the conclusion that is wanted for non-relevant reasons (a policy which, as so often, seeks to (ab)use the suffering of children for ends which have nothing to do with them).

It seems to me that a comparison with state faith schools may be helpful. Let us suppose that something has gone wrong at an CofE school. The fault lies first with the school, but thereafter, does responsibility lie with the CofE or the local authority? It could be either. We would all surely hold fire on that question until we knew the details. And even then, we wouldn't write headlines like the one Dr C did. I could put up with anything happening in a CofE school, without feeling the CofE as a whole was at fault. And that's a good thing, given Domics' point at 9.45.

6 June 2014 at 11:04  
Blogger Len said...

Sorry sister Tiberia I think I called you Sister Tiberius at one point.
Will stick to Sis Tibs in future.

6 June 2014 at 11:27  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I think, Albert, that this is a very good example of the fact that at present, nobody in Ireland is prepared to give the RCC the benefit of the doubt on anything. Frankly if someone's cat dies, the RCC is automatically to blame. This is my point, that the rebuilding of trust is slow, and denials or passing the buck make it slower still.

The school analogy is a good one. But supposing in the years before the hypothetical disaster at the C of E Faith school, the C of E had been rocked by a series of scandals that had horrified everyone and had handled those scandals fairly badly? I think you'd see a similar reaction to the one that's happened here.

Len, I'm perfectly happy with Sister Tibs or variants thereof :)

6 June 2014 at 11:46  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Albert

If things happen in a CotE school

The Co E should be responsible.

Saying that it has our name but is nothing to do with us, is the crux of the issue

It is about virtuous behaviour at the end the day. This concept of accepting responsibility for actions of the organisation is absent, both inside and outside of Churches

Phil

6 June 2014 at 11:53  
Blogger Albert said...

Phil,

The Co E should be responsible.

No. Because the CofE shares jurisdiction with the local authority, and they don't have responsibility for the same things.

6 June 2014 at 11:58  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T,

But supposing in the years before the hypothetical disaster at the C of E Faith school, the C of E had been rocked by a series of scandals that had horrified everyone and had handled those scandals fairly badly? I think you'd see a similar reaction to the one that's happened here.

They may not have been as public, but there have been such scandals in the CofE. It is still irrational to leap to the conclusion that the CofE is at fault.

Another comparison would be abuses at Church Army homes. I think people would quickly realise that the fact that was not automatically anything to do with the CofE as a whole. Part of the problem, then, is that Protestants and other non-Catholics have an irrational view that Catholicism is totally monolithic, which it isn't.

6 June 2014 at 12:04  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Try another analogy, Albert.

A hypothetical Catholic hospital, run by a nursing order, which has been found to be carrying out multiple abortions.

It may well be that the hospital is solely under the control of the Order and not the local bishop. But would any Catholic not expect the local bishop to come down on the place like a ton of bricks, rather than saying "nothing to do with us, it's all down to the superiors of this order?"

6 June 2014 at 12:05  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Albert

Never understood how Catholics could condone murder done in their name (especially in Ireland) .

After reading your last few posts I am starting to under how this mindset operates

Phil

6 June 2014 at 12:17  
Blogger domics said...

Phil, could show me any proof that the children we are talking about were 1)'murdered'; 2) were murdered 'in the name of Catholics'.

6 June 2014 at 12:30  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Dom

Not just talking Bout children

Phil

6 June 2014 at 12:33  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

About children

6 June 2014 at 12:35  
Blogger domics said...

Sister Tiberia, you are right that an investigation is needed but I remember very well that when the McAleese Report was released with its conclusions this do not stopped the bashing of these institutions.

6 June 2014 at 12:36  
Blogger domics said...

Phil, what do you mean with 'murder in their name especially in Ireland'?

6 June 2014 at 12:40  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

You're right, domics, but it has to start there. Until the last skeleton is out of the cupboard, there's no hope that it can ever be any better.

6 June 2014 at 12:41  
Blogger Albert said...

Phil,

If, having read my posts, you seriously think I am doing that, I think you are either unintelligent or culpably evil in your judgement.

6 June 2014 at 12:53  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Albert

Both .... evil and unintelligent

I am sorry you do not want the questions aired

Catholics have an issue here. It was a Catholic institution as others have said

Your attempts to dodge this issue perpetuates this (evil)

Phil

6 June 2014 at 14:25  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

Right, I've done a bit of reading and checking maps. So here's what I've found;

As well as a workhouse, there was also a fever hospital on that site. There is a huge cemetery bang opposite where the children's home was. It was common for people to be buried in 'board graves' if they didn't have money for a burial. This was basically a pit covered in boards in the local cemetery. You would remove the boards, place the body in the pit and then put the boards back. When the pit was full, it was sealed over. If these children are not in this tank, they will be in a board grave in the local cemetery. The woman checking this did check local cemetery records and didn't find their names, but the homes records were handed over to the health board when they shut in 1961 so they might be there. At any rate, their deaths and their cause of death are recorded.

The sewage tank was in use until 1938, so all deaths before then can be discounted. So you're talking from 1938 - 1961, a period of 23 years. According to the boys who found the tank it is about 20 feet square and nine feet deep. So there's definitely not 800 people in there. In Philip Boucher-Haye’s interview with one of those boys (now a lot older) he doesn’t say whether the bones are children’s or adults, nor does Philip Boucher Hayes ask if they were children’s bones, which I find very odd; it’s the first question I would have asked.

In 1938 and in 1972 there were major building projects on that site. One was to put in a new sewerage system for Tuam, the other was the home getting bulldozed to make way for a new housing estate. Nearly all of that ground is now covered in houses. It was in 1975 that two boys living there came across the tank, after both of these occasions. Given that there was a fever hospital, a workhouse, a home and a cemetery which might have buried people outside the marked boundary, I’m guessing that the builders involved in both projects were probably tripping over bones. At the same time they might have discovered the tank (those in 1938 would definitely known of its existence). Rather than hold up the building process by re-interring the bones properly, they might have just used it as a makeshift ossuary.
One last thought on this. Would you be able to use a tank this size over a period of twenty years to place bodies in? Wouldn’t you have to leave it open so that pressure from gas wouldn’t build up? Would this actually be practical? Why would you not take the body to the local cemetery instead which is just across from you? I think they are going to have to open this tank now, but I’m beginning to doubt that these children are in there.

6 June 2014 at 14:36  
Blogger William Lewis said...

One gets the impression from some people here that if it can be established that the children's bodies were buried and not chucked into the sceptic tank then we can all go home as if nothing has happened.

6 June 2014 at 15:02  
Blogger Tom Mushroom said...

Phil

As a Catholic, I want these questions aired as I've already posted.

But you go far too far in calling Albert "evil and unintelligent".

6 June 2014 at 15:03  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Tom

I think that it was Albert who suggested that Phil was either evil or unintelligent. Phil replied that he was both.

6 June 2014 at 15:15  
Blogger Len said...

I can imagine Albert arriving at the Pearly gates and giving St Peter a hard time as how to apportion blame for the sins committed by his Church.It could take till eternity.
Better just confess and get it over with?.

6 June 2014 at 15:27  
Blogger Albert said...

The reason I accused Phil of being evil or unintelligent is because he said to me:

Never understood how Catholics could condone murder done in their name (especially in Ireland) .After reading your last few posts I am starting to under how this mindset operates

I would like to see how anyone can look at the entirety of my posts and say that I have been condoning murder. Go on Phil, you've made the accusation, defend yourself, or stand guilty as charge of being evil or unintelligent.

And while you're about it, perhaps you would defend this charge:

I am sorry you do not want the questions aired.

6 June 2014 at 15:35  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

I will never understand the Irish

Or Catholics it seems

Phil

6 June 2014 at 15:46  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Albert

You do not condone murder directly. By making excuses for evil, you ensure it is far more likely for it to be repeated

That is if you take any notice of a unintelligent evil protestant's view on the right response to this

Phil

6 June 2014 at 15:56  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

carl

6 June 2014 04:03

We will continue to disagree on practically every thing religious, but in this revolting case, as one human being to another, with this post you are bang on the money.

6 June 2014 at 16:03  
Blogger Albert said...

Phil,

You do not condone murder directly.


Rather a fine distinction. Where did I condone murder indirectly?

That is if you take any notice of a unintelligent evil protestant's view on the right response to this

I might, if you can defend this charge:

By making excuses for evil, you ensure it is far more likely for it to be repeated

6 June 2014 at 16:05  
Blogger IanCad said...

Che Yeoh,

Some good info there.

Dear God that we are discussing such things!

One quibble though:

A burial pit, such as you describe, would easily be capacious enough to receive the remains of eight hundred poor souls. Particularly if regard is given to their poor, emaciated bodies.

In fact it would allow just over 4cu.ft. per victim. Not considering decomposition over the years.
An eight stone corpse would have a volume of 2cu.ft.


The gas would be absorbed by the soil and leakage.

God forbid that there could yet be many more.

6 June 2014 at 16:11  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Che Yeoh

As William Lewis has pointed out at 15:02, where and how the bodies were buried is not the main point. But as far as the arithmetic goes, the measurements you quote work out at a capacity of 3600 cubic feet or over 100 cubic metres. You could stack a hundred full-sized adult coffins* in a pit that size, timber and all. And here we're talking about undernourished children and babies. And no unnecessary expenditure on wooden boxes.

*7’ x 2’ x 2’6” gives a volume of 35 cubic feet (a fraction under 1 cubic metre) per coffin.

6 June 2014 at 16:15  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Albert

If you will not listen to me

At least listen to Sister T at 12.05

Phil

6 June 2014 at 17:09  
Blogger Albert said...

Phil,

Where is Sr T accusing me of condoning murder indirectly or directly or making excuses for evil? She had already said, in response to me:

The school analogy is a good one.

What we are trying to work out is the nature of who is responsible, not declaring innocent (iustus et peccator simul) some who is guilty.

You made a quite wicked set of accusations against me. You have provided no evidence, you have sought to hide behind Sr T's habit. So either provide the evidence or face the fact that you have violated the following command:

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

6 June 2014 at 17:13  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T,

Since Phil is trying to turn your post at 1205 into an accusation against me, I would say that the cases are not alike.

Let us suppose that the hospital is run by a religious order and the Bishop is not the Ordinary. If the circumstances you describe happened, the Bishop would not be able to sack anyone or change anything (frankly, it turns out to be hard for him to act when he is the Ordinary!). He would have to protest to the Vatican. Of course, he could only do that if he knew what was going on, which, in the Irish case, it is unclear that he did, and since he wasn't in charge (if he wasn't the Ordinary) there is no reason why he should know.

Just because it suits Phil et al to assume the worst, doesn't make it so. But as scripture says: "Love does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the truth." For seeking the truth here, I have been accused of condoning "indirectly" murder. It's amazing how dark some people's hearts are!

6 June 2014 at 17:20  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Albert

I will try one last time

If an organisation fails to take full responsibility for the actions of those that bear their name. Then at the very least they run the risk of being as guilty as a whole organisation of the actions of the few

Many already make this connection. When you and others write that somehow this is not really a responsibility of the RCC. You are ducking your responsibilities to current children in the RCC and worse belittle the deaths of these poor children at the home.

Phil

6 June 2014 at 17:38  
Blogger Len said...

"Earlier, Independent TD Catherine Murphy said she was concerned about the sanitised language used relating to the Tuam discovery. “We are hearing references to ‘burials’ when, in fact, we are talking about bodies being disposed of in a septic tank.”

"Ms Murphy said that if the septic tank was discovered anywhere else in the country, other than beside a religious institution, it would already have been declared a crime scene."(Irish times)

6 June 2014 at 17:46  
Blogger Owl said...

Che Yeoh 14:36

Thank you for the information.

I find it incredible how some posters are already portioning blame when we know so little facts about this whole thing.

For all the RCC bashers and RCC apologisers:

"This is first and foremost an Irish problem!"

As an Irishman, I hope that it will be thoroughly investigated.

The large headlines with such blatant pointed fingers and with so little concrete evidence leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The cheap accusations (with no knowledge) by some people on this blog does not reflect well on their credibility.

6 June 2014 at 17:49  
Blogger Albert said...

Phil,

I will try one last time

You haven't tried a first time yet. You accused me of condoning murder direct or indirect, I asked for evidence, you have produced none. You accused me of not wanting the questions aired, I asked for evidence, you have produced none.

What is so spectacularly remarkable about your libel is that I have been seeking in most of my posts to find who is responsible, and not to let supposition get in the way.

When you and others write that somehow this is not really a responsibility of the RCC.

Please quote the passage where I have said that, because I think you are violating the commandment.

You are ducking your responsibilities to current children in the RCC and worse belittle the deaths of these poor children at the home.

What? By trying to find the right person to blame, rather than the wrong one, I put children at risk? It's you that is putting children at risk by seeking to stick the blame on people who may not be to blame - an act which inevitably lets the guilty go free. And you are doing that, because it suits your apologetic purpose. You've made outrageous undefended claims, simply so you can use the deaths of these poor children to attack people, for your own reason, whom, in your prejudice, you don't like.

6 June 2014 at 18:07  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

One is rather disturbed to find the word ‘murder’ strewn along this thread.

If anyone seriously believes Roman Catholic nuns could be involved in such an enterprise, then they have cause to doubt their own sanity.

We know the killers of the children. Disease and a weakened immune system unable to fight it off, resulting from malnutrition. One’s own father contracted TB during those years. It didn’t bother him, and was only detected decades later when he was given a health check-up by his firm’s pension providers. There it was on the chest x-ray, a small amount of scarred lung tissue so indicative of the disease. The MO explained that half of Ireland contracted TB in those years. A disease today rightly associated with poverty and poor diet.

So confident was the British government that the south of Ireland would come begging for re-incorporation into the United Kingdom, that even today (and it’s nothing to do with the EU), citizens of the Irish free state as it was, and Irish republic as it is, had / have full rights to work and settle in the UK, and even the vote, no questions asked.

Now you might ask, why so confident. Well, by splitting the poorer agrarian south from the wealthier industrialised north, it had hoped to starve the rebels back to the fold. We see the result of that policy at the home in Tuam.

The hunger was even worse during the 39 45 war. A cargo ship headed for Liverpool was sunk off the north Irish coast. Part of the consignment was washed ashore. Bacon, butits immersion in sea water had left it incredibly salty. That ‘torpedo bacon’ as the locals named it, was eagerly sought after from the authorities who sold it at half price while it lasted.

6 June 2014 at 18:12  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Albert

You epitomise the issues that people see with in the RCC

The right thing to do is to own up as your problem. Because they acted in your name.

Anything less is incomprehensible. No wonder I don't understand Catholics. ..or is it just some Catholics

Phil

6 June 2014 at 18:17  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Inspector

So now it's the British at fault. Tell me, how did the British compel a father to send his daughter to one of these homes? I have daughters. I can't imagine it. But I can imagine a Priest using the authority of the RCC to order it on pain if excommunication. So I will ask again. On whose authority were girls sent to these homes?

I wouldn't surprise me if opening this ground turned into Al Capone's vault redux. There might be nothing to find. Or perhaps it will consist of adult remains. That doesn't mean anything. The bones in the cistern are the little problem. The system behind it is the big problem.

So were the nuns well fed? Did they actually make a comfortable amount of money as some posts on this thread have suggested? Was there a difference in how adoptable and non-adoptable children were treated? Where are the bodies of the dead? What was done with them and for them between death and burial? There are lots of questions to answer. And pointing a finger at the British isn't going to suffice.

carl

6 June 2014 at 18:34  
Blogger Albert said...

Phil,

You band around a load of accusations, which you cannot substantiate about me condoning murder and then you say I am not owning up to my problem! Amazing!

Is it because you subscribe to your iustus et peccator simul heresy that you do not think the commandments apply to you?

The right thing to do is to own up as your problem.

What I am saying is, all we know is that the problem is with the order. It may be that the problem is wider than that, but your gleeful response and desire to pin the blame even on people who may not have had authority or power or knowledge in relation to the situation is unjust.

Let me return to the original problem, you made some accusations, I have asked for evidence, you have provided none. But far from withdrawing the accusations or apologising you just keep on going. You have no morality as far as I can see.

6 June 2014 at 18:38  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Phil

One wonders if it is that in some cases a Catholics relationship to the RCC is more akin to a Protestants relationship to the Lord.

Catholics will try to mitigate reputational damage to the RCC because they see it as the body of Christ. Protestants see this mitigation as reputational damage to the Lord and never the twain shall meet.

6 June 2014 at 18:53  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Since people have asked, I will freely state that this situation is not a blanket indictment of all Catholics in Ireland. That includes clergy. But it is a rather severe indictment if the RCC in Ireland. If the wound is not to fester and turn septic, it needs to be treated. And that means all these questions need to be addressed.

Albert, the trouble with your school analogy is that these homes were as far as I can tell operating as intended. They were de facto prisons to which wayward girls were sent for punishment. And their children suffered the consequences. This is the essence of the indictment. This is what needs to be addressed.

carl

6 June 2014 at 18:59  
Blogger Chris said...

I am sorry, Sister, but you are in way over your head. Thus really is a most intemperate and reckless article which makes some very serious claims substantiated mainly by inference. I would urge you to read a much fairer and balanced presentation from Michael Cook on Mercator. Net.

6 June 2014 at 19:03  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

Albert, the trouble with your school analogy is that these homes were as far as I can tell operating as intended. They were de facto prisons to which wayward girls were sent for punishment. And their children suffered the consequences. This is the essence of the indictment. This is what needs to be addressed.

No, that's confused. The issue is not whether or not the institution was operating as intended, but who was responsible for its running.

6 June 2014 at 19:11  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

The home wasn't a one-off. There was a whole network of these homes. I have no reason to believe this home was unique. If the RCC sets up the network, and feeds girls into it, then the RCC is responsible for what happens in it. You can't send people to them and then say "But we didn't know how bad it was."

I will ask a third time. On whose authority were girls sent to these homes? If it was the local Priest - and I have read that this was so, but haven't confirmed it - then the culpability starts there.

carl

6 June 2014 at 19:20  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

For anyone wanting the correct link to the post Chris references, you will find it at http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/what_is_the_real_story_behind_irelands_mass_grave

On a cursory read I consider it no better and no worse than the roughly 20 other articles I've referenced here, it is significantly less emotional than some which is good, but it sets up some straw men to shoot down - for example "The headlines suggest that nuns threw corpses into a sewer" - a claim I have not seen in any article so far. "The ancient custom was to bury unbaptised children, strangers, suicides and criminals in mass graves." - also true but what little evidence we have so far strongly suggests that in the main these were not unbaptised children - one of the above articles has eyewitness accounts of children from this Home making their First Communions at the local church.

I will give the writer credit for his final sentence "Frame it first as a story about mid-century poverty when the Irish government failed its unmarried mothers by entrusting them to pious incompetents. That may be closer to the truth." I don't in any way disagree. But I still consider this an outrage, that with the massive mortality rate over such a long period of time that is quoted by Catherine Corless, that apparently nobody, civil or within the Church cared enough to look closer at why. That these children died in these numbers of the diseases of neglect, which is substantiated by the death certificates. That they were denied the Christian burial to which their baptism entitled them. That the diocesan spokesman tried to brush it under the carpet under the "we can't judge history" label. I give full credit to the Archbishop for calling for an enquiry, and the sooner the better.

If this turns out to be a Famine mass burial site, I will be the first to ask Cranmer to post this, and I have no doubt that the historian Catherine Corless will do similarly. And in the mean time, I consider it very sad that until the "intemperate" articles started appearing all over the Net there was no intent for any inquiry at all.

6 June 2014 at 19:27  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Correction. I read 20-25 articles to write this piece. I think I've referenced about seven of them through this thread. If anyone wants the full list I will happily post it.

6 June 2014 at 19:30  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Carl

"Tell me, how did the British compel a father to send his daughter to one of these homes? I have daughters. I can't imagine it. But I can imagine a Priest using the authority of the RCC to order it on pain if excommunication."

Don't be daft; there's no grounds for threatening excommunication here! How silly.

Do reflect on the social situation outlined by the Inspector and these words of Father Ray Blake posted earlier:

"I remember an Irish Mercy Sister, now dead, saying to me when I asked why she had come to England in the 1930s to pursue her vocation saying, "Because in Ireland we had nothing, you English left us with nothing, except our faith and our poverty. The Irish State expected the Sisters and Brothers to deal with the people it itself was unable to deal with, with no resources, except what they could beg in Ireland itself".

And the nun's life:

"She herself had left school at thirteen, her family survived on money sent by her father who did seasonal farm work in England and older brothers who had emigrated to England and America. Her mother brought up the family, whenever the father returned there was another pregnancy, she as a child was barefoot and often hungry, it was only when she became a Sister she had shoes all year round. "My mother and the older girls would go hungry so the boys and the younger children could survive", she said, it seems as if half her brothers and sisters had died in childhood. I remember asking her why the boys were fed in preference to the girls, her reply was interesting, "The boys needed to be strong in order to swing a shovel, it was our investment in our future!""

You're talking life and death here. A daughter with a child outside of marriage could result in a whole family collapsing.

At the time, regardless of faith, unmarried, pregnant girls were, more often than not, thrown on the streets. Yes, even by Calvinists. Some still are today by Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Calvinists and whatever.

Following this, a question Carl.

And why should a girl be thrown out of her family home for getting pregnant? Is this what a father does?"

What's your model of fatherhood?

6 June 2014 at 19:36  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Phil, is Jack missing something here?

Where's the actual evidence these nuns were responsible for the deliberate death of any child?

As domics posted way back at the beginning of this thread:

"Frankly there's a big difference between 'the Catholic Church has not given proper burial to 800 children' compared to 'the Catholic Church has caused the death of 800 children'.
Could you guess what is the most popular version on the web?"


You want the Catholic Church to what sorry foe what exactly? Say it was responsible for infanticide and the deliberate neglect and murder of infants and children? Or, say it is responsible for dumping the bodies of dead children in a septic tank?

There's no evidence of either yet - just supposition. Shall we wait for the results of the enquiry?

6 June 2014 at 19:39  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

'One gets the impression from some people here that if it can be established that the children's bodies were buried and not chucked into the sceptic tank then we can all go home as if nothing has happened.'

At the risk of repeating myself, this is actually the only issue here. This is not Haut De La Guarenne, where children have disappeared without trace. These children have names and the date and cause of their death is recorded by the local authority and signed by a GP on an official death certificate. The only issue here is where they are buried. Catherine Corless, who is the local historian, has made a bit of a leap in assuming that a) because these children are not in local cemetery records and b) that two local boys found a tank full of bones at this site that c) those must be the bones of these children. I think this is quite a leap to be making. She hasn't considered that maybe the cemetery did not record all the people who went into the board graves, or that maybe the home kept the record, but not the cemetery in which case they will be with the health board. But the beginning and end of this matter is the manner of burial and if they are in a board grave I'm not sure what they are going to do. Are they going to dig up the mass graves in the local cemetery and re-inter them in separate graves? Anyway, the latest at Philip Boucher's blog is that they've located the home's records at the health board, so I suppose we'll be hearing more about it.

6 June 2014 at 19:41  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

... say sorry for what exactly?

6 June 2014 at 19:42  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

Here's the link for Philip Boucher;

http://philipboucher-hayes.com/

6 June 2014 at 19:44  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Carl, you really are like a dog straining at the chain when it comes to the Irish, aren’t you. They’re paying your price for neutrality during the war on supposes.

Yes, girls were turned out of their homes if they brought shame on the family. There would have probably been younger siblings at home, so the idea was that if she remained, her corruption, and yes CORRUPTION is the word, would have spread to the rest.

You can’t imagine that as a loving father, can you ? But then in most cases these days, a single daughter is half the children count. This man’s father was one of thirteen who lived. Thus a single child errant was a loss, but no great loss, when the whole is considered. They had nothing, but they were disciplined. A discipline that was passed down to yours truly. A discipline he lives by today.

6 June 2014 at 19:44  
Blogger Sean Preston said...

Sister, please also confirm that we are talking about 796 infant mortalities recorded over 40 years which does’nt sound excessive. Infant mortality was enormous before penicillin arrived in the late 40′s.

6 June 2014 at 21:06  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

If you want the exact figures for Irish infant mortality, here's a link. The columns compare the mortality rates of legitimate and illegitimate children and show that the problem was by no means confined to a single Home.

http://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/06/04/nothing-to-see-here-23/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=web&utm_content=related_posts

Catherine Corless states that the mortality rate for this home was five times the national average. For the exact figures you would have to contact her directly.

6 June 2014 at 21:14  
Blogger Sean Preston said...

Thank you. I also understand that her figures for infant mortality rates have not been adjusted for the age of the mother. This essentially means that this is not credible evidence.

6 June 2014 at 21:32  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

http://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/cahirodoherty/Galway-historian-reveals-truth-behind-800-orphans-in-mass-grave.html?page=2

"A local health board inspection report from April 1944 recorded 271 children and 61 single mothers in residence, a total of 333 in a building that had a capacity for 243.

The report described the children as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.” The report noted that 31 children in the “sun room and balcony” were “poor, emaciated and not thriving.”


Again, I have no access to the full report, only these quotes. If you contact the local authority in the area they could probably tell you where the full report can be found.

6 June 2014 at 21:43  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

I have no reason to believe this home was unique. If the RCC sets up the network

If it is true that these problems were common, and it is true that the Church (and not the orders) set them up, then yes, I agree.

On whose authority were girls sent to these homes? If it was the local Priest - and I have read that this was so, but haven't confirmed it - then the culpability starts there.

Agreed, although that would hardly defend Phil's claims about murder. Who was doing this, why and what were these alternatives? These questions need evidential answers and then we begin to know something about responsibility.

If only all Protestants argued as reasonably as you!

6 June 2014 at 21:44  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, one commentator on the post you linked noted:

"The statistics have not been adjusted for the age of the mother, which significantly increases the incidence of child mortality even in developed countries .... "

For example in 2006, in the USA, infant mortality rates ... for single births to mothers aged <15 years was 16.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, approximately three times the rates for mothers aged 25-29 years (5.1), 30-34 years (4.5), and 35-39 years (5.2)

That's America in 2006. Think Ireland 1920 to 1960.

And the book cited shows that illegitimacy rates were low in Ireland, below 3 percent until the 1970s (and still only 4.5 percent in 1979), but the mortality rate for illegitimate children was double that of legitimate ones.

Statistics, eh?

6 June 2014 at 21:45  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Happy Jack, nothing would make me happier to discover that this whole thing is a mares nest and the bones are carbon dated to Famine times.

Sadly, I'm not holding my breath.

6 June 2014 at 21:52  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Happy Jack at 19.39

'Shall we wait for the results of the enquiry?'

Nah, why waste a good crisis?

6 June 2014 at 21:57  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Rambling Steve Appleseed

At least the crisis - with all its inaccuracy, hyperbole, apologists and mud-slingers has had one positive effect. It means there will actually be an enquiry, where otherwise there would not have been.

6 June 2014 at 22:03  
Blogger Sean Preston said...

You may not be holding your breath, Sister, but I do wish that you had stilled your pen and i suspect that you are now rather feeling that way yourself. The Catholic Church is an easy target but i do take exception when a fellow Christian wades into do the dirty work of those who would grandstand on the grave of these unfortunate children to make scurrilous claims. With reference to the infant mortality rates i posted earlier, the rate of infant mortality for younger mothers is often many times higher than the average, even in modern developed countries. Moreover, have you considered how quickly infectious diseases can sweep through and overwhelm an institution. Even today, in the most hygienic and obsessively infection-controlled conditions, a GI bug can infect a whole ward of patients in no time at all. Imagine then, if you will allow yourself such a moment, an infectious disease in institutional conditions without access to antibiotics or modern health standards.

6 June 2014 at 22:21  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Sean, frankly I was given the option to post this without my nom de plume on it, and not to comment. I was, and am, angry enough, that no, I do not regret publishing it, and I stand by what I have said. If I regret anything, it is attempting to answer questions, post links, and keep the debate on track. If the inquest as I said dates this to Famine times and it turns out to be a mares nest, I will be very happy. And I will still consider the pressure brought by bloggers on the Irish Government to authorise an inquiry justifies the exhaustion I am feeling now.

6 June 2014 at 22:25  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

There is a quote that is misattributed to Stalin.

"The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."

These children were not, and are not, a statistic

This will be my last post tonight so anyone who wants to feel they got the last word can carry on now :)

6 June 2014 at 22:30  
Blogger Sean Preston said...

Thank you again for your prompt reply. I do appreciate your courtesy and the fact that you are prepared to engage on this contentious matter. I also hope that you can appreciate how fed some of us are at what we see as the constant denigration of the Catholic Church on the flimsiest of evidence.

6 June 2014 at 22:33  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sister Tiberia, what would make Happy Jack happier is if speculation was replaced by fact and evidence.

6 June 2014 at 22:45  

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