(The American Catholic will observe its tenth anniversary in October. We will be reposting some classic TAC posts of the past. This post is from June 9, 2014)
Catholic bashing has become the national sport of Ireland. Blaming the Brits for every ill that has ever afflicted Ireland has become passé, and in the former land of saints and scholars the Church is the whipping boy du jour. This of course suits the politicians who lead Ireland, eager to transform it into a carbon copy of every other European state with divorce, contraception and abortion ever available and with atheism as the de facto state religion. Irish leftism, always of the most infantile variety, has eagerly joined in, along with academia and entertainment. The attitude of the Church in Ireland has been, by and large, “Please sir, may I have another!” with most priests and prelates seeming to desire to become a Catholic Lite Church that will not utter a word troubling to their new lords and mistresses, the chattering classes in government and out.
Realizing this, I turned a jaundiced eye to endless stories about nuns supposedly casting the bodies of some 800 children into a septic tank at a home for unwed mothers in Tuam, County Galway, between 1925-1961.
Go here to Salon to see a prime example of the Catholic bashing way the story was played.
Besides the anti-Catholic hysteria, the thing that struck me about the stories was the sheer ignorance displayed: ignorance of the death rate of children in Ireland in pre-antibiotic days, ignorance that homes for unwed mothers run by religious orders were often used for caring for kids with mortal illnesses, ignorance as to the difficulties involved in using a septic tank to hold even a small number of bodies, let alone 800.
Well, the truth is starting to come out. Ironically it is from the local historian Catherine Corless, who was cited in all the stories for bringing this to light, but apparently wasn’t listened to very carefully by a media eager to hear what they wished to hear:
What has upset, confused and dismayed her in recent days is the speculative nature of much of the reporting around the story, particularly about what happened to the children after they died. “I never used that word ‘dumped’,” she says again, with distress. “I just wanted those children to be remembered and for their names to go up on a plaque. That was why I did this project, and now it has taken [on] a life of its own.”
In 2012 Corless published an article entitled “The Home” in the annual Journal of the Old Tuam Society. By then she had discovered that the 796 children had died while at St Mary’s, although she did not yet have all of their death certificates.
She also discovered that there were no burial records for the children and that they had not been interred in any of the local public cemeteries. In her article she concludes that many of the children were buried in an unofficial graveyard at the rear of the former home. This small grassy space has been attended for decades by local people, who have planted roses and other flowers there, and put up a grotto in one corner.
Go here to the Irish Times to read the rest. Go here to The Telegraph for more facts that do not fit the preferred anti-Catholic media narrative of this story. What becomes clear from the story is that there is no way that 800 bodies could have been placed in a septic tank, and that what likely happened to the children who died at the home for unwed mothers, who all had death certificates by the way, is that they were buried in an informal grave yard either behind the home or near it, such informal grave yards existing all across Ireland for the, often unwanted, children of the poor.
Let us be quite blunt shall we? It is the Church, and only the Church, and other Christian churches, who tend to care two cents for helpless people without money like unwed mothers and their kids. The nuns who ran the home for unwed mothers from 1925-1961 were dealing with a situation that the population at large and the State wished to ignore. The nuns saved all they were able and gave kind care to those they could not save and buried them when their families turned their backs with cold indifference. Now we live in more enlightened times. Abortion is used to cull the ranks of the poor, and, along with contraception, keeps their ranks down. Welfare checks are used to allow society to turn away with a “clean” conscience, at least until the welfare checks no longer can be summoned out of increasingly thin air. The nuns who ran the home are no longer needed for the moment, so their memories can be damned by knaves and fools not fit to untie their shoe laces.
Update: Carolyn Farrow has done yeoman’s work on this story. Go here to read her posts.