Monday, June 02, 2014

Eight Hundred Babies

Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby Home
Philomena Lee was in attendance yesterday when she and other mothers like herself gathered to remember what was stolen from them by the Irish State and the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The treatment of the most vulnerable by the powerful has been beautifully depicted in THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES, but over the course of time, even more of the hypocrisy described in the novel has come to light. 

While the mothers who were forced to give up their children for adoption were holding a memorial services, the Church hierarchy was meeting to talk further damage control.

A mass grave long ago uncovered in Tuam, County Galway, has been brought to light in the modern era where ordinary people dare to question the Church. The grave is unmarked and contains the remains of almost eight hundred babies.

Eight hundred.

The gravesite is connected to a facility once operated by the Bon Secours Sisters. Like so much of the sordid history of the Church and State colluding, the mother and baby home in Tuam began operations in the 1920s when Ireland gained independence from England. The home shut down in 1961, but the nuns did not leave any burial records for nearly eight hundred dead babies during their forty years of so-called "care" for unwed mothers and their fatherless offspring.

The burial site is not exactly a cemetery, either. Instead, it is a septic tank that was not in use when the nuns opened up their facility in a former workhouse. Clever bunch, to figure out a brilliant use for an already existing opening in the ground. No need to pay someone to dig a hole every time a baby died, and how much easier to cover up what was going on by dropping the corpse into a septic tank where no one could see it.

The bones were discovered back in the 1970s, but back then the Magdalene laundries and industrial schools were still operating and no one asked questions of the clergy. The place in Tuam had been used by the nuns and whatever they did they surely had a reason they were doing God's work, and that was the end of it, until recently.

Those who were adopted out of the mother and baby homes have been searching for their birth mothers, and many of the birth mothers have been searching for the children stolen from them. One researcher looking into the history of the home in Tuam found a collection of death records that boggled the mind, with an infant mortality rate that was stunning even for Ireland during the hardest times.

Some of the children may have died of malnutrition, and this while the Irish State was giving the nuns money to take care of the little ones. The scandal is only just now coming to light, and the Bon Secours Sisters are working diligently to come up with some sort of excuse.

Hard to imagine what they can say, when they tossed so many dead children into a pit and never bothered to put up any sort of marker. And why did so many die?

And how does this differ from abortion, except that it's the death of a child after it's born? Isn't that a sin of some sort?

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