Statement from the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) on the Tuam Babies revelations and the resignation of Marie Collins from the Vatican Commission on Clerical Sex Abuse
The latest revelations about the burial of babies in the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, though widely predicted, provoke a sense of both sadness and shame. Sadness, that the very precious, elemental relationship between mothers and their children could be so disrespected by institutions of Church and State in Ireland; and shame because as priests we are part of an institution that has played a central role in this sorry saga.
It will be argued, with some cause, that the Catholic Church was not totally to blame, as the whole culture of Ireland during that period made it acceptable for pregnant unmarried girls to be treated so shamefully. But the Church, because of its dominant position in the Ireland of the time, must take a large degree of responsibility for what happened. Also, we must acknowledge that individual priests in parishes, through the advice they gave to parents of unmarried pregnant women, and in some cases through public condemnation from pulpits, helped to limit to Mother and Baby homes the options available to parents.
The recent Tuam revelations, coinciding with the attitudes of Vatican officials which led to the resignation of Marie Collins from the Vatican Commission on Clerical Sex Abuse, serve to underline our conviction that Catholic sexual teaching and the attitudes that can underpin it need urgent renewal. There is still a long way to go before women are treated with equal respect and dignity in the Catholic Church.
Nowadays we take it for granted that graves will be marked, but it has not been always so. I remember the first time I saw the Angels’ Plot in Glasnevin – it was a wilderness. It has now been enormously improved; but infants were buried there from maternity hospitals in a manner perhaps not as well as they did in Tuam. The same happened in many other locations around the country. I enquired of Glasnevin last year, and was told that about half of their graves are unmarked.
My mother’s parents are buried in Glasnevin; I tracked down the unmarked grave about 30 years ago while doing my family tree. It was only marked about four years ago by a cousin of mine. It’s certainly not that my mother and her brothers lacked respect for their parents; priorities were different in the first half of the 20th century, and finance was a factor. Many graves of children and adults were unmarked. As in the Murphy Report, it’s important that we do not judge the motives of people in former times and circumstances by the standards of what seems obligatory today.
There’s an item of mine from last year, putting the Tuam babies question in historical and social context, and followed by a discussion, on the ACP website, which may be helpful: http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2014/06/tuam-babies/.
The revelations are sickening and my heart goes out (too late now) to the mothers affected. I agree with the above statement. Parish priests could and should have urged families to be compassionate. There was, however, one prophetic voice (that I remember) among the clergy in the 1960s. Fr. James Good supported unmarried mothers and publicly stated that, of the hundreds he had met, he didn’t believe they were capable of one mortal sin between them. One hopes that the prophetic voices of our time (especially those advocating for more compassionate attitudes towards marginalised people), will be listened to before all is lost.
There are lots of unmarked graves in Glasnevin, including in the relatively newer St. Pauls. My great grandparents and three of their children (ages of death from at birth to 15 months) are buried in one of them (in the Garden, the oldest section).
When doing my family tree, I was shocked at some of the priests’ overwriting on entries in the parish registers: ILLEGITIMATE and BASTARD in underlined capitals. Happily they were not all that frequent but they did testify to a rage at defiance of the holy order then prevailing.
On top of the Tuam babies type scandal I have wondered if there is another scandal out there, relating to maternity hospitals and miscarriages. I have attempted to set this out in a recent blog post:
I felt surprised at the comments made by the ACPI this morning on the RTE news with the issuing of this statement. Is the ACPI recommending the all the elderly clergy in Ireland who were acting as priests during the 1950s/60s apologize for the statements of the Church and the blind eye of the state at that time.
The ACPI has lost it’s way and is now seen as a body of people who want to moan.
Once again when we are shamed by the Tuam Babies scandal the voice of our official church leaders remains silent. They have never given us leadership on the abuse of power within the C.D.F in the past so unlikely they would do so this time. Thanks to the A.C.P. for their honest and forthright statement. For many of us they are the authentic voice of the Irish Church.
“Also, we must acknowledge that individual priests in parishes, through the advice they gave to parents of unmarried pregnant women, and in some cases through public condemnation from pulpits, helped to limit to Mother and Baby homes the options available to parents.”
So what should these “individual priests in parishes” have offered as an alternative option? A subsidized boat ticket from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead/London?
Thank you Padraig for your objective assessment. Given the verifiable facts of your demographic research, on infant mortality and the link to same, I would have expected the ACPI to have made a more factual and objective statement. A reading of René Girard on scapegoating would have helped the ACPI from joining in what can only called a ‘group-think’. ‘Group-think’ is not based on fact. Ironically, the same ‘group-think’ being the very people who have sacrificed innocent priests and religious to the mob. One needs to discern well before joining the group-think’ which the ACPI statement has now aligned itself. The ACPI statement has done a disservice to the innocent babies buried in Tuam. The statement of the ACPI on this tragedy is in sharp contrast to its demand for justice on other matters. It needs to amend its statement in the light of the national facts on infant mortality as outlined in Padraig’s findings. Anything less is merely joining in the emotional group-think. Groupthink makes good sound bites. Sound bites are not the same as the verifiable facts. They are the lowest form of journalism. I humbly suggest a reading of Girard.
Bro. Jude @7
Groupthink: a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception; shows us the mind set of arrogant power at that time, which continues to the present day as can be seen in the culture of cover up of the child abuse scandal. The Church cannot defend the indefensible to do so is to collude with evil as it denies who we serve, Jesus Christ (Truth). Theses scandals provide an opportunity for the Church to grow spiritually by embracing Humility.
I have read that Groupthink occurs when a homogenous highly cohesive group is so concerned with maintaining unanimity that they fail to evaluate all their alternatives options.
Groupthink members see themselves as part of an in-group working against outsiders opposed to their goals.
You can tell if a group suffers from groupthink if it:
1. overestimates its invulnerability or high moral stance,
2. collectively rationalizes the decisions it makes,
3. demonizes or stereotypes outgroups and their leaders,
4. has a culture of uniformity where individuals censor themselves and others so that the facade of group unanimity is maintained, and
5. contains members who take it upon themselves to protect the group leader by keeping information, theirs or other group members’, from the leader.
I feel that this is a fair description of Clericalism and this is why there appears to be a total lack of moral leadership from the hierarchy. In failing to embrace their own collective failings, their dishonesty shames all of us.
I humbly suggest you look to whom you serve.
kevin your brother
The saddest and most disturbing
homily I ever heard was in the early 1990’s,at Mass in Stillorgan,co.Dublin.The priest preached at length on
‘the terrible sin of the woman who conceives out of wedlock’.And yes,it was all about the woman,no mention of any man…I have never forgotten it.I was so shocked as I sat there with my husband and two young sons.The church was packed.I kept thinking there must be here girls,women,who have been or are now in this situation.What is this doing to them?What are they thinking?How are they feeling?All condemnation and not a word of support or compassion.To my mind the very opposite of what Jesus is about,the unconditional love of God.
At the end of Mass I resolved to go to the sacristy to speak with the priest,something I had never done before.I told him I didn’t believe this was Christianity,and definitely not the message I wanted my sons to hear and I did not want them to grow up with such an attitude .The priest seemed very surprised.To this day I feel great sadness when I recall this.To me,that was a form of spiritual abuse.
This report on the Tuam Babies reminds me of the time when the Kerry Babies scandal happened. The newspapers had sensational stories every day and all sorts of wild theories were circulated . I actually bought the Offical Report from Government Publications and was amazed to find that the information in the report bore very little resemblance to what was in the newspapers at the time.
I fell it would have been better to wait until the investigation was complete,with all the facts on the table about what happened to these children. Keyboard warriors are today’s version of mob rule.
I lived adjacent to a County Home in the fifties ,I often went to Morning Mass in the Home with my mother . There was usually three or four rows of young women at Mass . Sadly they were considered to be fallen women(no fallen men take note) the women bore all the blame ,can’t be ruining a young mans prospects. The church seems to be bearing the brunt of the blame for what happened to these unfortunate women but from my recollection of that era families were terrified by how the would be judged by society as so called “illegitimate” children were shunned. Shot Gun marraiges were common too for the same reason.
Hard to believe that today but that was the way it was. There were no marches or demonstrations by the general public to have these places shut down.
Doesn’t Eileen Clear’s recollection of James Good in #2 provide at least part of the answer to Eddie Finnigan’s question in #6: what alternative did priests have to recommend to the families of the pregnant unmarried girl other than the Mother and Baby Home?
James Good was implicitly questioning the justice of the practice of sequestering and hiding the girl to save the family’s social face – the reason in many if not most cases the girl was not simply kept at home. As justice is a primary requirement of the Gospel, why did that requirement not determine the preaching of clergy and the social behaviour that followed?
The latter could also have been far more just in its treatment of the children born to these women – another failing of these homes.
Why should not that overarching principle of justice govern that change in the church’s sexual teachings called for by the ACPI statement? What reasons are there to suppose that the 6th commandment and Jesus’ teachings on marriage and sexuality are not governed also by that principle?
None of the church’s sexual scandals would have occurred if the just care of the most vulnerable had been the paramount concern of the institutional church. It was the paramountcy of shame-based hiding of these problems that led to all such disasters. Injustice and obscurantism continues in the censoring of ‘Just Love: A framework for sexual ethics’, Margaret Farley’s persuasive work on this very theme.
Finally, if Rene Girard is to be invoked to prevent the scapegoating of clergy (#7) it mustn’t be forgotten that the pregnant woman has too often been the scapegoat of the male-dominated society that failed to protect the women and children concerned in this particular tragedy. The focusing of social shame on an excluded individual or minority lies at the root of all scapegoating. Christendom’s failure to see Jesus as a scapegoat – proving God’s solidarity with all who are shamed and excluded – lies at the root of all of these historical disasters.
Bro. Jude @7
I sympathize with your concerns for all those innocent priests and religious who have been sacrificed to the mob, as their credibility was undermined by those who were meant to serve them, as this tragedy relates to the loss of moral authority by the leadership of the Church.
From the link below; the resignation of Marie Collins
“What we know now is that all of the emotional and intellectual investment of victims, all the lofty words and intentions of countless bishops forced to acknowledge the deep corruption of the institution, all of the straining for some manner of justice by those in the wider, secular culture, mean nothing inside the community if the clergy culture continues to refuse to confront itself and its entrenched and unyielding role in sustaining the sexual abuse scandal”.
Sorry and apologies are wearing thin on the back of on going institutional denialism as it is so apparent they have forgotten who they were meant to serve.
Only a Church that has the capacity to show its true face warts and all in humility will have any future standing before mankind credibility needs to be re-established.
kevin your brother
Attached is a copy of a PDF document (in booklet form) which I sent to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission as a contribution to the social and historical context of the Investigation.
MOTHER AND BABY HOMES INVESTIGATION Some Notes on Social History DOWNLOAD
I skimmed through the PDF document Mother and Baby Homes Investigation and it would beg the question ,the so called educated people who were making decisions about these unfortunate women were in fact the ones who were feeble minded, mysoginist,and unchristian.
I think you do reach a stage when you feel completely sick of the whole thing. I think I have reached that stage now with these new revelations about the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam and the resignation of Marie Collins. It is totally sickening. However, we can take some consolation from the honesty expressed by Archbishop Anthony Fisher in Australia –“a kind of criminal negligence”. And. also, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe –“complacent belief in the untouchability of the Church” All from last weekend’s Tablet below.
Criminal, callous, depraved, abysmal Premium
02 March 2017
The Catholic Church in Australia is in very deep water. There is widespread public disgust and horror at its failure to stop the sexual abuse of children by a considerable number of its priests. The evidence that has emerged during the hearings of a royal commission into institutional child abuse entirely justifies the description of the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, of the Church’s response to the victims of the abuse as “a kind of criminal negligence”.
Collectively, Australia’s archbishops have anticipated the likely outcome of the inquiry by what amounts to a plea of guilty, institutionally, while implying that it was an earlier generation of church leaders who must bear the actual blame. The Archbishop of Perth, Timothy Costelloe, said the “abysmal” response to complaints by that earlier generation was due to their complacent belief in the “untouchability of the Church”, making it unaccountable and “a law unto itself”.
Well this is a story I will share with my 15 and 17 year old to see what they make of it. I’m sure there are those comparing data with “like homes” off and abroad matching mortality rates and burial practices. I’m not sure if that means there is a complete insensitivity to the subject matter or not or if this is just a part of the regular mimetic human condition. What I’m expecting from my kids is complete horror, and I will reason with them that “group-think” was and still is a very dangerous thing and that if anything, forgiveness should be sought for everyone involved.
When kids today look at what society has built for them, is it no reason that they question the good intentions of the most rational of us? When reading of this, if “factual and objective” is what you are leaning towards, you might want to leave “statistics and national facts” for another time. The kids of today will thank you for it.
Many thanks to Padraig McCarthy (#13) for that pdf contribution to contextualisation. Pending further development of that by the MAB commission we should not venture at this stage into summary judgement, especially of those who staffed these ‘homes’.
Social stigmatisation is a powerful and mysterious force, and the subsidence of the stigma surrounding unmarried pregnancy in Ireland has removed all of us from the psychic universe of that Tuam burial site. I can understand Paddy Ferry’s distress, but would counsel him to postpone despair until a far more detailed map is drawn of the international pattern of dealings with this issue. Every age has its own unquestionable ‘givens’ and every land has its own hidden secrets. That Ireland is an exception to the international pattern of management of this issue remains to be proven – and some of the current commentary is of a transparently opportunistic, axe-grinding and blinkered character.
Why, for example, is horror over the historical Tuam story, not matched by equal horror over the current international reality of late-term abortion? What we choose to see and to ignore in any given era will probably always cause consternation decades later, so the abortion-tolerant of this time would do well to test the clarity of their own lenses before wallowing in righteously superior indignation over the blindness of past generations.
Just had time to skim through all the above comments. This morning I supervised two second-level students who read at this morning’s public Mass in our church (two students read at one Mass each week). The communion reflection which they used (gleaned from a very useful prayer resource, faithandworship.com/prayer) is, I think very apt:
all the fancy words
in the world,
expressed in eloquent prose,
decorated with emotion,
spoken with conviction,
cannot compete with a heartfelt
when all other words fail.
There are times
when we are all too aware
of our limitations,
conscious of sin,
and the distance it creates between us.
is all the heart can bear to say aloud.
A sincere thanks to Sean O’Conaill@17 for that thoughtful follow-through on Pádraig@13. The past may indeed have been a somewhat different country, but many of us were there and so were our parents, and in some cases our aunts or sisters. I stood with an old Maynooth classmate outside the ‘luxury Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa’ in June 2013 (I think Brendan H was there the same evening) as we met to mark the group’s 45th ordination anniversary. Tom was a bit quiet and withdrawn for a while before he mentioned that, as a curate in the 1970s, he had accompanied girls and their parents to the hotel’s main building – from the 1950s to the 1990s it had been the Mother & Baby Home for the area, run by the Good Shepherd Sisters. Tom was one of those “individual priests in parishes” who, I have no doubt, supported those families compassionately through an experience none of them would have chosen – he certainly never ‘read anyone off the altar’. Our contraceptively enlightened and abortion-tolerant age may feel it has all the answers and the right to lacerate an earlier era. But, like one or two others, I feel that a breast-beating ACP should not join the mob.
The welfare of people has consistently been in the hands of a select few, it seems. Our idols create our realities sadly and this is no secret. Perhaps we are seeing the miscarriage of society because we have become so dependent on a select few instead of becoming independent ourselves.
Sean, @ 17, I think “late-term abortion” is still something that if men could have dominion over, they would and perhaps to some extent, they still do. Children understand that they have 2 choices today : 1. jump in the tide and make sure you make enough money to pay the bills or 2. don’t and see what life brings to your adventure. The “affluenza” of today is certainly the “shame” of yesteryear, there is no doubt, but stating that blindness is the cause is unjust.
Current options limit the “user experience” this life has to bring. It forces people into downsizing their families any way they can, creates an environment where 2 adults have to be employed to make a go at a household, and where optics are concerned, it’s easy to see that this phenomenon is a recent development since this new generation emerging is now making less money on average than their parents, according to Forbes.
All the while, the short-list of the world’s wealthiest expands because of the invention of the tax-haven, it seems – it provides unchecked wealth and the sort of influence that provides the bedrock for the foundations of any Bon-Secours-like home. Go figure.
I would just like to say tonight –I should have said this in my previous comment, @15 above, last night–that I absolutely applaud the ACP for issuing their statement concerning the most recent revelations about the Tuam babies and the resignation of Marie Collins. And I support them completely in agreeing with every sentiment in that statement. My sense of despair would have been much greater if that statement had not been issued.
I also wanted to express my dismay and sadness at the resignation of Marie Collins though I totally understand and respect her reasons for doing so. Marie was heroic to agree to work on the Commission in the first place. She is an example of ‘turning the other cheek’ in the true Gospel sense. That the senior clerics in the Vatican undermined and thwarted her excellent work is another scandal. Sadly, their attitude is not confined to the Vatican. Here in Ireland, it has been publicly stated by one who should know better that ‘we have apologised enough for the abuse scandals.’ The attitude underlying that statement just shows that they still do not ‘get’ the devastating effect that abuse wreaks on a person’s life.
Eileen Clear@ 22
‘we have apologised enough for the abuse scandals”.———————————
Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows justification of any form or deflection from the reality of these collective sins that were/are hidden within clerical system (Culture) will only inflame the anger of the laity or any group (Mob) of people with an ounce of decency.
I prayed for many years to be heard by the heart of God’s Church and I believe that my pray was answered, as the ACP site has enabled me to heard by those members within the ACP who serve/hear the Truth
I am pleased to say that I agree with the above statement by the ACP as it acknowledges the reality of the situation.
AUTHORITY comes with Truth and those who serve it
Taken from an e-mail to me by a priest
“The Church is to be faithful to the eternal Gospel, and is in every age a sign of contradiction. The Church must not conform to the world but must seek to persuade the world to conform to Christ”.
The Church needs to reclaim her moral authority, for this to happen our Shepherds need to confront the trappings of clericalism, that spider that has caught so many in its web of deceit and arrogance.
It is not that they “do not get it “ the reality is they just don’t truly regret it. This can be seen by the accepted resignation of Marie Collins, why did no one show true concern for her and the church and step in and stop this?
kevin Your bother
I did not fully understand the impact the most recent revelations from Tuam has had on the country until the last couple of days. I had not been in touch with anybody from home in the last week but, even if I had, they probably would not want to say much about it. However, watching and listening to an Taoiseach at Leaders Questions in the Dáil on Monday brought it home to me. He was excellent. ( link below for anybody who did not see it.) And, this ,remember, is a Taoiseach who takes his Catholic faith seriously. And, he reminded us –perhaps a little indelicately, but it definitely had to be said—that only the young women were condemned and punished. Werner Jeanrond’s “cultural forces” were obviously at work here as well.
President Michael D, in his International Womens Day address yesterday was also excellent and quite rightly singled out Catherine Corless for special praise. What a great and brave woman she is! Donal Lynch, in last Sunday’s Sunday independent calls her the Erin Brockovich of the Tuam Babies scandal. I only got the paper over here on Tuesday but reading it through and realising that the horror and disgust that I was feeling was shared by just about everybody else, was somehow consoling. Sean @11, I agree, it is puzzling how the basic requirements of the Gospel did not affect the behaviour of the clergy at the time. I expect Lord Acton’s oft quoted remark about the corrupting effect of total power is ,once again,relevant here But, you are surely not telling us that we should save our despair until we learn how these situations were handled in other countries ! Surely not, Sean !! There have been some excellent contributions to this debate but I would especially like to commend Kevin for his gentle, thoughtful reflections.
I am now more baffled than ever as to why anybody could challenge the judgement of the ACP in issuing their statement above. It was the very least that was required and anything less would have been unacceptable and a serious mistake.
► VIDEO: Tuam babies: Taoiseach decries ‘social and cultural sepulchre’
Keep it up, Paddy@24, 21, 15, but let’s also have a shout out for that atheist Brendan O’Neill’s excellent piece in this morning’s Irish Times: “Rush to moralise over Tuam has run ahead of the facts.” Alternative Facts, like the poor, will always be with us, I suppose. Meanwhile, praise to the Almighty for creating a few atheists to help us to think.
The latest revelations about the burial of babies in the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, though widely predicted, provoke a sense of both sadness and shame. …
What precisely is the cause of this sadness and shame on the part of the ACP? I see that Brendan O’Neill (editor of the online current affairs magazine Spiked) has an article in the irish Times today
I will quote just the extracts dealing with ascertainable facts:
On Friday, [the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes] confirmed what many had suspected: that babies and young children were buried in the grounds of the home. It said “significant quantities of human remains have been discovered” in a “long structure divided into 20 chambers”. It said the structure “appears to be related to the treatment/containment of sewage and/or waste water”, but it has “not yet determined if it was ever used for this purpose”. …….
That the “structure” had 20 chambers suggests it had been turned into a kind of catacomb. That the children buried there were “swaddled up”, as one eye-witness described it, suggests they were not simply “dumped”. That the discovery of the structure in the 1970s was followed by a priestly blessing and then the setting up of a grotto by local people suggests the town of Tuam, and Old Ireland more broadly, was not a foul place but rather had many good people in it, concerned for the dead.
Brendan O Neill comments that “The rush to moralise about Tuam doesn’t only run ahead of facts – it seems also to run ahead of common decency” and gives as a example the fact that Commission told the media about the discovery of human remains BEFORE it told the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors (CMABS), some of whose members lost siblings in Tuam. A spokesman for CMABS said it was “shocking we [had] to learn of this news via the media”.
From this he concludes that
One can’t help feeling that the commission’s urge to emote publicly, to display its “shock”, overrode the traditional decorum of informing individuals of the potential discovery of family members’ remains. Nothing, not even basic civility, can be allowed to stand in the way of virtue-signalling over Tuam.
Now THAT is something that should arouse “sadness and shame”.
Kevin, my bother in Christ, your mention of (mob) may be an allusion to my allusion to the ‘mobile vulgus’@19. I also had in mind, “There go the mob. I am their leader. I must follow them.” No allusion whatever to the Dáil or the Áras.
Eddie, after what Enda and Michael had to say, I don’t think I need to say much more. (See link to Michael D below ) I’m a bit worried now that you are going a bit soft. I did actually read Brendan O’Neill’s piece this morning and , yes, it was very well balanced. I don’t think it will bring much comfort, however, to somebody like Peter Mulryan who is still trying to trace his sister, Marian Brigid, wondering if she was “fostered to America, or sold off or dead”. Part of my problem is trying to understand what motivates a certain mindset to try and defend the indefensible. You are definitely not of that mindset, Eddie, but we do come across some contributors on this site who are.
Are you going home for the Green Day?
President hopes baby home inquiry will ‘out the truth’
When the burial ground was excavated and it was discovered that”the structure had twenty chambers” surely experts in sanitation were consulted as to what exactly the structure was. Why wasn’t it made clear what it was as with today’s sophistacated methods of gathering evidence it should not have been difficult to establish facts like when was it built and what was its purpose,and whether or not it was used for sanitation.
The impression was given that nuns just opened up a cover and threw the remains into a septic tank. I know that this is not what the Report states.
But it left enough confusion for wild speculation to take flight There may be still some older residents alive who worked there or told stories of their time there and might be able to shed some light on this matter.
The people of Tuam showed that they respected the burial ground and have lovingly maintained it over the years.
Many have jumped to exaggerated conclusions on the Tuam story. A letter in the Irish Times on Wednesday 8 March may free us from the hype:
“Sir, – As the son of one of the residents of the Bon Secours home in Tuam, who still has contact with some former residents, I have issues with the story of the ‘discovery’ of a mass grave.
We always knew as a family that the plot currently in the news was where the babies who died in the home were buried. That was common knowledge.
The public record also shows that about 800 babies or young children were registered as having died in the home over a period of 35 years. So even without any technological examination of the site, it was clear that there had to be about 800 remains buried there. The coincidence of the number of the deaths recorded at the home and the number of remains buried at the site is what you would expect. Had only 200 deaths been recorded and 800 been discovered, for example, then it would indeed be real news. What in fact the recent examination has done is just confirm the information already available. Nothing new has been discovered. – Yours, etc,
Note the final sentences: “What in fact the recent examination has done is just confirm the information already available. Nothing new has been discovered.”
Eddie Finnegan @27
Thank you for your comment
I was referring to any group of people “mobile vulgus’” I had to look up the meaning ‘excitable rabble’ but of course you would have known this, could you not have come down to my level ?
A regular contributor to the Site has sensitively told me that my habit of placing (Putting) brackets to clarify my meaning is off putting “as we know what you mean” and therein lies the problem “We” I place these brackets for further clarity for those who are uneducated people like myself while at the same time ensuring (in my own lack of confidence) I am understood as I am also part of the uneducated masses (Mob) but the educated “We” want to demonstrate in their sophistication a justification for evil by sharing their knowledge with the so called “feeble minded” Mob as apparently they do not understand the subtleties between right and wrong.
The question is how do you deal with the Mob (Cultural Catholics)?
Taken from your link in post@ 25 “In running ahead of the facts and turning this into a black-and-white morality play, in which they star as paragons of decency against hellish nuns, they reveal that they share something in common with the Old Ireland they claim to hate: a preference for moral zealotry over reason”.
This mass of indignation has to be seen in its true context, which is as moral zealotry over hypocrisy not as over reason.
And for many this zealotry is a manifestation of their hurt, as so many honest Catholics left the Church in their humility because they knew that they could not live up to the standards set within Hunanae Vitae bruised, angered, frustrated, I want to weep, the pain of reject of themselves before God (For some now hidden under a self-justifying conscience) enflames this zealotry (So many now entangled in evil) now no longer knowing that they are waiting on the quay side for the barque of Peter as Hope has been stifled within them.
You have disowned the comment by leadership of the ACP. “I feel that a breast-beating ACP should not join the mob”.
Do you include the Bishops statement that reiterated the church’s apology of three years ago for the hurt caused by its part in the system which they said also involved adoptions?
The majority of people within Ireland in their generosity of heart would forgive anyone who made a true act of contrition and that includes the clergy, as they want to love not hate.
Honesty is the key, but will our Bishops and Shepherds lead and truly bend their knee.
kevin your brother
In reply to Bro. Jude I would, respectfully, have to say that it was ‘group-thinking’ that got us into this mess in the first place.
“What in fact the recent examination has done is just confirm the information already available.Nothing new has been discovered.”Paul Churchill
Well it seems to be news to the Bon Secours Sisters:In 2014,Terry Prone acting as PR representative for Sr Marie Ryan,leader of the Bon Secours sisters,wrote in response to an inquiry about Tuam former mother&baby home :”If you come here,you’ll find no mass grave,no evidence that children were so buried….and the local police force casting their eyes to heaven and saying” Yeah a few bones were found,but this was an area where famine victims were buried…”
Furthermore,in an interview/debate on RTE radio the day before the publication of his letter,when put before the facts presented by historian Catherine Corless about the burial site in Tuam ,Paul Churchill acknowleged :”That’s news to me” https://radio.rte.ie/radio1highlights/catherine-corless-father-paul-churchill/. The full recording is worth listening to if you can.
No, Kevin, I certainly have not disowned the ACP post on this tragic story. In writing @19: “I feel that a breast-beating ACP should not join the mob”, I was referring to that single sentence from the post which I carefully quoted in my earlier comment@6. I have no quarrel whatever with the rest of the ACP post. As you may have noticed from time to time over the past six years, I am sufficiently literal-minded to regard this site as a forum for priests in search of their voice. “Individual priests in parishes”, whether in those evil old days of the past or in the media-enlightened days we inhabit, need any support they can get. My friend Tom at Dunboyne in my comment@19 seems likely to represent those individual priests in parishes over the past five or six decades better than any figment of our fickle rabble’s MOBile or keyboard imagination.
My apologies Padraig #30 for unintentionally omitting your name in my response #32 to your posting of
Paul Churchill’s letter.
Below is the link to tonight’s Late, Late Show. Catherine Corless was interviewed by Ryan as was Peter Mulryan whom I mentioned in my post @28. The spontaneous standing ovation Catherine received at the end of her interview, I think, tells its own story. I’m sure most people who live at home in Ireland will have watched the Late, Late tonight but those living outside Ireland, like Eddie and Lloyd, and others who have contributed to our discussion, will, I am sure, find this interesting. The interview with Catherine starts at about 15 minutes into the show.
Eddie Finnegan @34
Thank you Eddie for you comment
I suppose I took my cue form an older comment (2015) of yours.
“Another round of debate and publicity on something that we really should simply let lie”
As this comment defines your intent in regards to the culture of cover up, say nothing it will go away, in other words let sleeping dogs lie.
Moral authority needs to be restored as this scandal diminishes all of us. The Truth of the matter must be brought out into the light, as it appears the CDN also want to let it lie.
“ MOBile” as I have said previously I do not comprehend many of your jokes in Latin, now that you have highlighted Mob I now understand what you were trying to say. I am sorry for any misunderstanding.
“Tom at Dunboyne in my comment@19 seems likely to represent those individual priests in parishes over the past five or six decades”
I agree with your statement but also let’s not forgetting the integrity and true leadership qualities of Bishop Moriarty that are now, so badly needed in today’s church.
As he represents those individual bishops and priests that are so badly needed, as he served the Truth before himself but they appear to be so few like him and because of this, the culture of cover up within the clerical system is held together, will our Shepherds lead by accepting the collective guilt of this scandal for permitting their consciences to lie in a state of inertia by putting self-interest first under the disguise of obedience to the institutional church. Will they serve the Truth and confront the CDF as they appear to be a law unto themselves?
And in so doing ensure that the clerical abuse crisis is dealt with transparently.
The accepted resignation of Marie Collins shows the true intent of the leadership of the church and because of this we can justifiable ask why did no one show true concern for her and the church and step in and stop this.
Little boy blue (heaven)
Come blow on your horn (Preach)
The Cow is in the meadow
The Sheep are in the Corn
Where’s the boy (Shepherd)
Who looks after the sheep?
He is under the hay stack
Fast a sleep
Will you wake him no not I?
If you do he’s sure to cry
Wake up to your responsibilities reclaim your integrity before mankind and more importantly our Father in heaven.
kevin your brother
Thank you Paddy for your encouragement but I thought that my comments were on the harsh side, nevertheless thank you once again.
kevin your brother
I know this is a sensitive subject matter but the more I read and watch, thank you Paddy for the link provided, I can’t help but think that this is a genocide on our own religion, not in whole but “in part” equally, legally applies. Enforced celibacy and now forcibly transferring children of the group to another group:
Read these words promulgated in 1948.
Genocide means any of the following acts
committed with intent to destroy,
in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to
members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group
conditions of life calculated to bring
about its physical destruction in
whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to
prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children
of the group to another group.
We have had much heart-searching about the Tuam home situation, and many comments seem to presume that this is a particularly Irish and/or Catholic problem. I would like to emphasise a few points so that we can see the wider picture. I have no specific information about Tuam; we await the further results of investigations.
1. Is burial in an unmarked grave a sign of disrespect – that those who died were just dumped or discarded?
In one location in Dublin there are about half a million people buried in unmarked graves. That place is Glasnevin Cemetery, where just about half the graves are unmarked. My mother’s parents who died in the 1920 and 1940s were in an unmarked grave until about five years ago when we erected a headstone.
Burial in an unmarked grave does not mean disrespect to the dead. Usually it means that the people concerned had other priorities on their minds at the time. It is likely that most families in Ireland (and perhaps elsewhere) have relatives in unmarked graves – you could enquire for yourselves.
This is the case not only in Ireland.
2. Was infant mortality in homes such as Tuam evidence of malpractice?
Again we await further reports. For reference keep in mind what Robert Karen PhD wrote in Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love, Oxford University Press, 1994, page 18ff:
“It had been reported, for instance, in 1915, that infants admitted to ten asylums in the eastern United States had mortality rates of from 31.7 percent to 75 percent by the end of their second year…”
Perhaps Ireland may be found not greatly out of step with international experience.
3. Was treatment of unmarried mothers particularly harsh in Ireland?
Minister Katherine Zappone says that human rights were violated. As seen today it was undoubtedly harsh.
We must remember that our contemporary awareness of human rights dates from after World War II, following the abomination of how so many were treated in Nazi Germany. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights dates from 1948. Other jurisdictions had far more draconian ways of dealing with those who were judged unfit to procreate.
Legislation for mandatory sterilisation was enacted in 33 of the then 48 States of the USA, beginning with Indiana in 1907. These included many women who were sent to institutions under the guise of being “feeble-minded” because they were promiscuous or became pregnant while unmarried. Most notorious, perhaps, is the judgment of US Supreme Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in Buck v. Bell, in 1927, upholding a Virginia law: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Justice Pierce Butler, a Catholic, dissented.
European countries that had sterilisation programmes include Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Switzerland, Iceland, Austria, France, Belgium and the Czech Republic. Winston Churchill was in favour, but, thankfully, failed to get it through.
From this perspective, how unmarried mothers were treated in Ireland then, however objectionable today, was less severe than found in other jurisdictions.
It is possible that the strength of Catholic teaching helped keep Ireland free of those excesses.
There is more information in PDF booklet referred to at #13 above.
This is not to imply, of course, that all was well, but it is important to understand the world and social milieu of the time. We have much to learn for our own day.
When Enda Kenny spoke about the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in the Dáil he said.
“Tuam is not just a burial ground, it is a social and cultural sepulchre. That is what it is. As a society in the so-called ‘good old days’, we did not just hide away the dead bodies of tiny human beings, we dug deep and deeper still to bury our compassion, our mercy and our humanity itself. No nuns broke into our homes to kidnap our children. We gave them up to what we convinced ourselves was the nuns’ care.”
As David Quinn pointed out in the Independent on 10 March, our Taoiseach’s tone and his words contrasted very sharply with those of Labour’s Kathleen Lynch in 2013 when she addressed the Dáil about Bethany Home, which also housed unmarried mothers and their babies.
Ms Lynch, then the junior minister in the Department of Justice, used much softer language than the Taoiseach, even though hundreds of babies also died in Bethany Home and were buried in an unmarked grave.
Explaining the high death rate in the Protestant-run institution she said: “Unfortunately, poverty and disease were commonplace in Ireland up to the 1950s and this was reflected in infant mortality rates.
“Infant mortality rates in the 1940s were at a level that is hard to comprehend today, about 20 times higher than now and that figure applies across the entire population. For those who were malnourished and subject to disease and a lack of hygiene, the figures would have been higher still.”
Responding to critics of the home, she said [my emphasis]: “Our Constitution demands we respect the rules of natural justice. People are entitled to a fair hearing and an opportunity to protect their good name…It seems to have been accepted at the time that Bethany Home was run by people with charitable motives.“
Why are the rules of natural justice not being applied to the Bon Secour nuns? Why is it assumed that the Tuam Mother and Baby Home was NOT run by people with charitable motives? Note for example the headline in the Connaught Tribune yesterday:
Tuam babies’ investigation likened to Nazi war crimes trials
As per the article, Junior Minister John Halligan is calling on Gardai to question any surviving Bon Secours nuns who ever worked at the home, to establish whether a criminal investigation is warranted. Minister Halligan says as was the case with the Nazi war crimes trials, if an individual has been an accessory to a crime then they should be held accountable, regardless of how many years have passed.
This is just a further development of Enda Kenny’s statement that “We took their babies and gifted them, sold them, trafficked them, starved them, neglected them or denied them to the point of their disappearance from our hearts, our sight, our country, and in the case of Tuam and possibly other places, from life itself.”
Why was this not said in the Dail debate about Bethany Home? Just for the sake of argument, let us suppose that a Garda inquiry into Tuam finds no evidence of crime or any behaviour that would justify this rhetoric. Should we expect an apology from the politicians concerned?
Homily preached by Archbishop Michael Neary in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Tuam
11 March 2017
In recent years, and again during this past week, we in the parish, the archdiocese, the country and beyond have been endeavouring to come to terms with the heart-breaking news of the Mother and Baby Home here in Tuam. This is a deeply distressing story for all of us, but especially so for those affected individuals and families. We can only attempt to understand the emotional upheaval which mothers suffered as they felt so helpless and isolated.
What is particularly harrowing is the report of high levels of mortality and malnutrition. It was an era when “unmarried mothers” – as our society at the time labelled women who were pregnant and not married – were often judged, stigmatised and ostracised by their own community and the Church, and this all happened in a harsh and unforgiving climate. Compassion, understanding and mercy were sorely lacking.
It is now timely that this dimension of our social history be addressed and thoroughly examined. To do so would begin the process of attempting to explain, but not to excuse, what happened in our not too distant collective past. Perhaps we could begin with this fundamental question: “How could the culture of Irish society, which purported to be defined by Christian values, have allowed itself to behave in such a manner towards our most vulnerable?”
There is an understandable sense of shared anger arising from this situation; people are deeply distressed and desperately upset by what they hear and read. There is a danger, however, that when anger begins to die down, we may be tempted to move quickly to the next social problem from the past without having fully understood the complex and tragic historical situation before us. The use of highly-charged emotive language, while understandable in the situation, may prove to be counter-productive.
There is an urgent need for an enquiry to examine all aspects of life at the time, broadening the focus from one particular religious congregation, and instead addressing the roles and interrelationships between Church, State, local authorities and society generally. Such an approach should ensure that the truth will emerge no matter how unpalatable it may be to those on whichever side of the present discussion. In this way we will be enabled to move genuinely forward. One hopes that the Report of the Commission will enable that truth to surface in a clear and objective manner.
Even today there are huge challenges surrounding how we care for the disadvantaged in our society. In years to come our present society will inevitably be subjected to scrutiny and will most likely be found deficient in many areas to which we are blind at present. We need to learn from the past in order to prevent similar injustices in our time, and so as to inform our future generations.
I wish to again apologise for the hurt caused by the failings of the Church as part of that time and society when – instead of being cherished – particular children and their mothers were not welcomed, they were not wanted and they were not loved.
In the story of the Transfiguration in today’s Gospel, frightened disciples are given a preview of the Resurrection in order to give them courage to face the scandal of the Cross. Today, we pray for that courage to enable us to face squarely and honestly those agonising questions which confront us from our recent past. Let us pray for the light which will illuminate the dark recesses of that past and bring hope and healing to us all. Amen.
“How could the culture of Irish society, which purported to be defined by Christian values, have allowed itself to behave in such a manner towards our most vulnerable?”
Follow the influence to the highest reaches of the hierarchy. There you will find the source of people’s obedience. If this is perpetuated by a mere few hierarchs, it will find its approval within superiors and then flourish among subordinates. It’s the triangle the current Pope is trying to destroy or at least make obsolete. This triangle is putting and end to our Church but also our societies. Great men and women are not always bad men and women but have been silenced by a great many in this day and age. Sadly, it’s not about people versus banks at this stage of the game. The banks nor any entity could stand a chance; it’s us versus ourselves at this moment.
“We have had much heart-searching about the Tuam home situation, and many comments seem to presume that this is a particularly Irish and/or Catholic problem”——————————–
No the problem is about the action and manifestation of love or lack of it in a Catholic county where the Church has a monopoly over that culture.
1.”Is burial in an unmarked grave a sign of disrespect – that those who died were just dumped or discarded?”
Probably not under difficult circumstances, burial at sea etc but generally it would be preferable to do so as it gives comfort to those who are still living. But in your statement you have by passed the most important aspect of this scandal and that is of a Christian burial, to be buried in consecrated ground. Was there not a cemetery close by?
It has been stated on the radio that some of the children/mothers have been buried there, given the indignation that was shown by the Church’s teaching on suicides etc. Yes, they were just dumped and discarded by those who should have behaved better. As religious those who participated in this deception knew exactly that they were doing, it was a cover-up to hide the true reality of the situation at this institution (Mother and Baby Home) in Tuam.
The motive for doing this was to maintain an image of goodness for the benefit of the powers that be in order to maintain the power of Clericalism.
2. “Was infant mortality in homes such as Tuam evidence of malpractice?”
We will have to wait and see but the lack of respect and dignity for each individual human life gives us a good indicator to the mentality and behaviour of many of those involved.
3.” Was treatment of unmarried mothers particularly harsh in Ireland?”
My opening statement address this question
“The problem is about the action and manifestation of love or lack of it in a catholic county where the Church has a monopoly over that culture”.
Within the context of the above statement, yes absolutely.
kevin your brother
Archbishop Michael Neary asked: “How could the culture of Irish society, which purported to be defined by Christian values, have allowed itself to behave in such a manner towards our most vulnerable?”
On Mother and Baby Homes, we bought, at least partially, into the dominant paradigm of the time in Britain & USA: segregation in an institution. We must also ask: if religious organisations (not just Catholic) did not take up the task, what would have happened the single pregnant women? The State, through the County Homes, could not have coped financially or otherwise, and the women would have had nowhere to turn. Certainly, it is wrong that they were rejected by their families, and the churches were part of that society which was greatly influenced by a (Victorian?) puritanical conformism, especially with regard to more disadvantaged sections of society. It would be of interest to know how many, if any, women from the wealthier sections of society were ever residents in a Mother and Baby Home.
On the matter of taking the children, we bought into the “wisdom” of the day that it was better to take the children to give them the possibility of “a better life”, as England did in sending children to Australia. In February 2010 UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a formal apology to the families of children who were taken.
On how the unmarried single women were treated, we did not buy into the dominant paradigm in 32 States in USA and at least 10 countries in Europe, that the best thing was to sterilise such “feeble-minded” women so that they would not give rise to a new generation who would be a burden on society. (Winston Churchill was in favour but failed to get it through.) It is little consolation to the women and children who suffered, but at least in this matter we have reason to be grateful that we did not follow the example of so many other jurisdictions which would usually be seen as civilised.
The Tablet in June 2014 reported: “Fr [now bishop] Fintan Monaghan, spokesman and archivist for the diocese of Tuam said the diocese’s baptismal register showed that 2,005 children from St Mary’s mother and baby home had been baptised from 1937 to 1961.”
Since children from the home were baptised, it seems very unlikely that those who died were buried in unconsecrated ground. I’ve never been involved in the “consecration” of a burial ground, but it seems quite possible that a priest from the parish, or a chaplain to the Home if there was one, could have blessed the ground at the beginning. The Home was originally the workhouse; I don’t know how much knowledge there is of the details of that operation. In Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, I was chaplain to St Colman’s hospital, on the site of the previous workhouse. Nearby there is a burial ground, known locally as a famine graveyard, but likely to hold more than just famine victims. There is just one memorial stone.
Many say that they were “dumped and discarded.” The Notice from the Commission on 3 March does not come to that conclusion. It seems better to wait the results of whatever further investigations may take place, and not condemn those responsible for the burials without clear evidence of disrespect.
Why does Archbishop Neary frame what is also clearly a Catholic Church problem as a problem for ‘Irish society’?
Because such a framing will dispense the Catholic hierarchy from the imperative of studying and giving an account of the performance of their predecessors – as well as of the wider church – in the dioceses concerned?
To this day there has been no addressing by the hierarchy of the internal Catholic failures identified in the Ryan report of 2009 – for example the typical deference of officials (presumably mostly Catholic) in the Irish Department of Education to the religious congregations that ran the ‘industrial schools’. If lay deference to clergy was a problem in that case, is it not likely to have been a problem in the case of the Mother and Baby Homes – a problem that needs to be not only acknowledged but directly discouraged in the culture of the church today?
Similarly, the issue of social shame, so determinative in the case of the ‘unmarried mother’ – to what extent was this recognised as a factor in need of confrontation by the Catholic clergy of the period, as a likely source of ostracisation and injustice to the woman and her child? What advice, if any, was given on this in the formation of the Catholic clergy of the period?
Did greater moral obloquy attach to that particular infringement than to, say, male domestic abuse or bullying or swindling or injustice in the workplace? Was our operative moral theology seriously unbalanced to the disadvantage of the woman?
These are specifically Christian and Catholic questions that will not necessarily occupy the attention of a state-sponsored inquiry, so why is no internal Catholic inquiry apparently on the horizon? Deflection in a crisis of this magnitude should not be the strategy of men who want to lead us out of it – so I trust that we will indeed see such an internal holding of ourselves to account, without waiting for the results of a state inquiry that could take years.
We must identify and own our own failures, without flinching, if we are to learn from them.
‘We must identify and own our own failures, without flinching, if we are to learn from them.” Well said, Sean@47.
Isn’t Lent the perfect time for reflection and aren’t we being encouraged in our daily and Sunday homilies to do exactly that, to repent, reflect, re- think and transform ourselves into being more Christ like. It is astounding and tragic really to think that it is only now in 2017 that we are beginning to accept that every single person is made in the image of God and therefore equally worthy of respect. The lack of respect shown to those poor mothers and babies lost in Tuam and so many other places is unbelievably heartbreaking, the deference, and therefore a superfluity of respect, shown to certain groups in society absolutely sickening.
There seems to be a terrible fear among leaders in the Irish and wider Roman Catholic Church to admit failure, to accept responsibility for this lack of love towards the most vulnerable, the very people Jesus loved most!! We have to admit to our failure to love and we can only do that if we listen to the hurting voices without always going on the defensive, to really listen and reflect on that hurt and what we can do to make amends.
A very good and fundamentally honest sermon by Archbishop Michael Neary but it bypasses the kernel of the problem so we must look closely for the true (Full) intent within it but more so in what it disregards.
“How could the culture of Irish society, which purported to be defined by Christian values, have allowed itself to behave in such a manner towards our most vulnerable?”
We must not be deflected away from the essence of the problem, which was the misuse of power in the manipulation of the flock by the use of moral and spiritual corruption to maintain the elite’s objectives. Clericalism is the problem, definition of CLERICALISM: a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy, the general populous especially the poor and uneducated were manipulated and this can be seen in the docility of the flock, to maintain this power.
“There is a danger, however, that when anger begins to die down, we may be tempted to move quickly to the next social problem from the past without having fully understood the complex and tragic historical situation before us”.
The problem is not just a social one from the past as it continues into the present day in the ongoing culture of cover-up as manifest in the highest echelons of the Church and it is called CLERICALISM
“Today, we pray for that courage to enable us to face squarely and honestly those agonising questions which confront us from our recent past”.
Archbishop Michael Neary and others of his stature need to pray for the courage to enable them to face squarely and honestly to the real problem of today, there inability/refusal to confront the trappings of clericalism, that spider that has caught so many in its web of deceit and arrogance, sadly until this is done any true intent within his homely will full on Stony ground.
Taken from the link below
“The most critical change the church must affect: Intransigence on clergy sexual abuse is the scandal that must be torn from the soul of the church root and stem, or talk of dialogue, discussion and discernment on any issue is but empty rhetoric”
“In the story of the Transfiguration in today’s Gospel, frightened disciples are given a preview of the Resurrection in order to give them courage to face the scandal of the Cross”.
Our Lord Himself has given the Church the means to destroy the root and stem of clericalism, but to do this the elite of the church will have to embracing the scandal of the Cross thorough a public act of humility.
If this were to happen a Transfiguration would occur within the Church, at this moment in time that would resurrect the true face of Jesus Christ, a face that reflects Truth and humility before all those she is called to serve in love and compassion.
kevin your brother
Exclusive: Marie Collins responds to Cardinal Muller’s allegations about abuse commission; See link below
“I would ask that instead of falling back into the Church’s default position of denial and obfuscation, when a criticism like mine is raised the people of the church deserve to be given a proper explanation. We are entitled to transparency, honesty and clarity.
No longer can dysfunction be kept hidden behind institutional closed doors. This only succeeds as long as those who know the truth are willing to remain silent”.
kevin your brother
Very well said, Mary.
“We must identify and own our own failures, without flinching, if we are to learn from them.” – Sean O’Conaill and Mary Vallely
In the case of nuns, the failures of the religious congregations also include the refusal to defend nuns who have been subjected to obscene and lying allegations – including the rape and murder of children. In a previous post on the topic “Child Abuse Scandal Almost Fatally Destroyed Catholic Church”, I referred to the article in the Daily Mirror on 11 October 1997 entitled
“HOT POKER WAS USED ON LITTLE MARION.. NO CASH WILL GET HER BACK; I THINK MY BABY WAS MURDERED AT THE ORPHANAGE, SAYS PAYOUT MUM.”
The tabloids have very high powered lawyers to defend them against libel actions and I’m sure they advised the Mirror editors that the allegation – that a Sister of Mercy had killed a baby by burning holes in both of the child’s legs with a hot poker – was highly libellous. However the editors understood – correctly – that the Sisters would not sue, possibly because they did not want to cause pain to the woman who was making the claim!
Two years later when former Sister of Mercy Nora Wall was convicted of raping a young girl, the media exploded with hate-filled headlines: “Vile Nun, Pervert Nun”, “I was Raped by Anti-Christ”. The conviction collapsed with extreme speed when the two accusers gave a newspaper interview that named them for the first time and one of their OTHER victims recognised the name of his own accuser! The following is an extract from the Wikipedia article on the case:
Reaction of Sisters of Mercy
After their conviction, the Sisters of Mercy issued a statement, which read:
“We are all devastated by the revolting crimes which resulted in these verdicts. Our hearts go out to this young woman who, as a child, was placed in our care. Her courage in coming forward was heroic. We beg anyone who was abused whilst in our care to go to the Gardaí.”
Even after the collapse of the case against the two accused, the Sisters of Mercy made no effort to apologise to Wall or to withdraw their statement of support for Walsh. One commentator remarked: “The young woman their hearts were going out to, was the false accuser, not their own innocent nun. Our absolutist system had seduced them into identifying with the accuser and betraying their own sister.”
Anyone who reads the Wiki article should also note the paragraph headed “Reaction of Kevin Myers, July 1999”. Kevin Myers, no friend of the Catholic Church, was prepared to defend Nora Wall even BEFORE the collapse of the rape conviction. Her former colleagues have failed to do so, even to the present day.
Something similar may well happen in relation to the Bon Secour nuns who served at Tuam. I referred at # 41 above to the Connaught Tribune article headlined Tuam babies’ investigation likened to Nazi war crimes trials regarding Junior Minister John Halligan’s claims. I see from a related article in the Irish Times on 11 March that Minister Halligan is not just using the term Nazi as a kind of generic insult – like the guy in the pub who calls someone a “bastard” without knowing what the word means. Mr Halligan knows and intends to be taken literally.
“Old age should not diminish accountability for any crime or alleged crime. If you bear in mind that the child mortality rate at Bessborough in 1943 was approaching 70 per cent, sure that’s similar to concentration camps,” he said.
“Are we seriously saying that because somebody is ill or aged that we shouldn’t at least interview them? If you look at what’s happened at Belsen, Auschwitz, Dachau, even up to last year individuals who are alleged to have carried out horrendous crimes in their 80s and 90s were interviewed.”
As it happens, I am in full agreement with Minister John Halligan that the Gardai should carry out an investigation into the deaths of babies in Tuam, Bessborough and elsewhere. Just for the sake of argument, let us suppose that a Garda inquiry into Tuam etc. finds no evidence of crime or any behaviour that would justify this rhetoric. Will the leaders of the Catholic Church request an apology from Minister Halligan? Or will they display the same kind of “compassion” shown by the leaders of the Sisters of Mercy when they failed to defend their colleagues against false allegations, up to and including the murder of a child? (And just what is the nature of such “compassion”?)
Further to my previous comment, an Irish Times article by Breda O’Brien regarding Judge Harding Clark’s report on the Symphysiotomy “scandal” is also relevant here. How many people still recall this fake scandal that occupied media headlines for a mere 17 years – prior to the publication of the judge’s report in November 2016?
Why Did So Many Women Say They Had Symphysiotomies?
Sensationalist consensus may overlook one third of applicants who never had procedure
……But medical experts proved that a third of those who made applications, including some very vociferous and active campaigners, had never had the procedure at all.
Other applicants claimed to have had it in hospitals that were not yet built, or to have had it carried out by doctors who were not there, and “in several statements the applicant claimed being held down by nuns (in hospitals where there were no nuns) while she was being ‘assaulted’.”…..[My emphasis]
Ms O’Brien points out that this is eerily reminiscent of Nora Wall, who was accused, convicted and jailed for allegedly holding down a child while Paul McCabe raped a victim. Nora Wall was subsequently cleared of all wrongdoing, as was Paul McCabe. But reasons why such an utterly egregious miscarriage of justice were allowed to happen have never been properly investigated, and never will be.
Breda O’Brien writes about the role of the media and indeed the Wikipedia article on Nora Wall points out that she and Pablo McCabe “were originally accused in 1996 shortly after the broadcast by RTÉ of the TV documentary “Dear Daughter” in February of that year; they were convicted in June 1999 one month after RTÉ’s broadcast of the States of Fear series produced by Mary Raftery.”
There were also comments about nuns made by Dail Deputies at the time – of a tone similar to the recent ones by Minister of State John Halligan.
The main difference since then is that the Catholic hierarchy themselves now seem determined to join the witch-hunt against the Bon Secour Sisters. The Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary has recently asked us to begin with this fundamental question: “How could the culture of Irish society, which purported to be defined by Christian values, have allowed itself to behave in such a manner towards our most vulnerable?”
I would answer the Archbishop as follows: The late Pablo McCabe was a homeless schizophrenic man who presumably qualified as one of “our most vulnerable” and former Sister of Mercy Nora Wall was hardly a member of high society. McCabe had no money but prior to 1999 no woman had ever been convicted of rape so McCabe was accused to make the allegation appear more plausible. The leaders of the Sisters of Mercy betrayed both of them and sided with the accusers. Archbishop what makes you think that the current accusers are more plausible? Do you really find it acceptable that a Government Minister should refer to Nazis and talk about Belsen, Auschwitz and Dachau? Archbishop, if a Garda investigation into the Tuam Home produces no evidence to support such claims will you do or say anything at all? Or will you remain silent like the current leaders of the Sisters of Mercy?
It looks like this discussion has ended but perhaps I can say a final word. I note from an article in the Irish Examiner that
A garda source said reasons for establishing a criminal investigation would be a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, such as homicide or neglect, but said it would be almost impossible to prove the latter after so long. A forensic expert said that 50 years on, the chances of establishing a cause of death were “very low” as except for cases such as strangulation, [my emphasis] bones would bear no signs.
And I had almost forgotten that there were allegations in 2014 that the nuns had refused to baptise children because they were “spawn of Satan” but the Tuam Archdiocese proved this story false by producing records of thousands of Baptismal Certificates. The Associated Presss carried this story, which was reported in hundreds of newspapers worldwide, but then issued an apology as reported by the Jesuit Review “America” on 24 June 2014
…The Associated Press ….. repeating incorrect Irish news reports that suggested the babies who died had never been baptized and that Catholic Church teaching guided priests not to baptize the babies of unwed mothers or give to them Christian burials.
The reports of denial of baptism later were contradicted by the Tuam Archdiocese, which found a registry showing that the home had baptized more than 2,000 babies. The AP issued a corrective story on Friday after discovering its errors.
Some of the lunatic allegations regarding the Bon Secour nuns are reminiscent of the 19th century anti-Catholic scandal centered on Maria Monk. “The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk” published in 1836 contained tales of depravity and infanticide centered on the Hotel Dieu convent in Montreal. Priests supposedly visited the convent via a tunnel. Because of this, infants “were sometimes born in the Convent, but they were always baptized, and immediately strangled.” The Catholic Church of course denounced the book as a fraud but what really discredited “Maria Monk” (never a nun and in fact, a Protestant) was that prominent PROTESTANT clergymen and journalists – who had originally believed her horror stories – carried out an investigation and pronounced her a fraud. However if Canadian Catholic bishops at the time had chosen to throw the nuns to the wolves and believe the atrocity stories, then honest non-Catholics would not have dared to take a stand against the mob hysteria! There is a lesson here for the Irish Hierarchy today.
Rory Connor @54
In the past I have deliberately avoided making any comments on the Tuam babies story, but rather concentrated my efforts in regard to the culture of cover up relating to the child abuse scandal this article brought them together by including the resignation of Marie Collins from the Vatican Commission on Clerical Sex Abuse.
You have made many comments now and previously and put a lot of effort into citing headline such as “Tuam babies’ investigation likened to Nazi war crimes trials” the Symphysiotomy “scandal etc. And yes much of this is hype and very unjust indeed, but what you need to know is that mankind see our Shepherds as having taken on the public mantle of our Saviour Jesus Christ and are now seen by them to be walking in His footsteps, proclaiming the good news, this mantle (Truth) is all they own, Jesus teaches that this is their only protection in this world, the world knows this also sadly this mantle has become so badly stained it is now almost unrecognisable and it needs to be cleansed quickly or our Shepherds will be trampled underfoot, the means are available to do this but this will take courage and honesty but then again if they possessed this courage and honesty in the first place the Church would not be in the mess it is to-day.
One can only hope and pray that those men with the calibre and leadership qualities of Bishop Moriarty, that are now, so badly needed within today’s Church will make their presence known and step forward, if they do so all will not be lost, as the laity/mankind will see the truths within gospels actual working.
kevin your brother
It is possible that myself and Kevin Walters (and others) are operating at cross-purposes. I certainly believe that Christ’s call to establish a “Kingdom of Heaven” transcended Jewish Law and the Gentile attitudes to justice and truth that were accepted in his day – but it did not abolish them.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Transcending (or fulfilling) the Law does not mean ignoring it or destroying it. A lot of Catholics today seem to be so consumed by guilt about child abuse that they have no interest in questioning the accounts of self-proclaimed “Victims” even where such accounts are either exaggerated or demonstrably false. Some Religious Sisters in particular, seem to take the view that the Catholic Church is (or was) Patriarchal and Clericalist and therefore bad. Thus even if “victims” tell fantastical stories they must have suffered deep pain at the hands of evil Church personnel – and the grosser the allegation, the deeper the pain. Their attitude is dogmatic in the most literal sense of the word i.e. there is no conceivable evidence that will cause them to revise their views!
I believe that the (comic) tragedy here is that these Sisters imagine that they are transcending the Old Testament attitude to Justice whereas in fact, they are failing to rise to it!