Good people unearth these evil truths, but the church always survives.
This astonishing column by Emer O’Toole in the Guardian raises far more questions than it gives answers, but – perhaps even more so because of that fact – it’s well worth a read.
For those of you unfamiliar with how, until the 1990s, Ireland dealt with unmarried mothers and their children, here it is: the women were incarcerated in state-funded, church-run institutions called mother and baby homes or Magdalene asylums, where they worked to atone for their sins. Their children were taken from them.
The power that Catholicism held (holds?) over the Irish people and Government is evident from the horrific atrocities that the church was able to get away with in Ireland for so long.
Ireland knows all this. We know about the abuse women and children suffered at the hands of the clergy, abuse funded by a theocratic Irish state. What we didn’t know is that they threw dead children into unmarked mass graves. But we’re inured to these revelations by now.
When I saw the headlines about the mass grave, I was intrigued, but I figured it must be a Stone Age or Medieval thing. When I discovered that some of these children died as recently as 1961, I was incredulous. The story is horrendous, yet makes for compelling reading.
The situation screams out for answers and demands explanations, but given the lack of visible public outrage and the Catholic church’s apathetic response to the discovery of 796 children’s bodies in a mass grave within disused septic tank, perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems that nothing has changed.