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The ugly truth about children born to unwed women in Roman Catholic Ireland:

TUAM, Ireland — That 796 children, mainly babies, died at St. Mary’s Mother and Baby Home between 1925 and its closing in 1961 is not disputed. A local historian, Catherine Corless, says she researched the death certificates. What troubled her was that she could find burial records for only one child and wanted a plaque to commemorate the lives of the others.

Ms. Corless surmised that the children’s bodies were interred in a septic tank behind the home, and she then met a local man who said he had seen bones there while playing as a child. While even she acknowledges that the conclusion was a circumstantial leap, once it was picked up in the local press, it was sensational enough to rocket around the globe, becoming a story of a disused septic tank brimming with bones.

Over the years, thousands of children died in the homes from ailments, including typhus, measles and malnutrition. The death certificates Ms. Corless collected list a range of common causes at a time when infant mortality was much higher than today. The death rates at the homes were always well above the national average, according to official figures. In some years, more than 50 percent of infants died, and there is evidence the state knew this; several commentators have called the homes’ problems “a scandal hidden in plain sight.”
We know largely how these innocents died, but I'm having a huge problem with the WHY. Because they were illegitimate and judged deserving of cruelty and neglect. We are not even allowed to know WHO they were because the Holy Roman Catholic Church did not grant them humanity and the individual right to a name and an identity.

I hate religion!

Throughout my childhood, Ireland has always portrayed itself as a very, very religious and God-fearing country
Do you understand why I hate religion?

The hypocrisy and evil cruelty of religion, especially to innocent children, persecuted by an evil church because these children were "illegitimate".

The Roman Catholic Church is illegitimate. Religion is illegitimate.

You do not treat children in this way because they are "illegitimate".

And the ongoing hypocrisy of Forbes Magazine:

In a jaw-droppingly dismissive piece this week Forbes calls the story a “hoax.” Irish writer Eamonn Fingleton, to boost his case, notes that Corless never actually used the word “dumped” to describe what happened to the bodies, and the remaining question of where, precisely, all the unaccounted for bodies may be found. But from there he goes straight to speculation. “Although many of the nuns may have been holier-than-thou harridans, they were nothing if not God-fearing and therefore unlikely to treat human remains with the sort of outright blasphemy implied in the septic tank story.” See, it’s a hoax because he can’t believe it. “The nuns who ran the orphanage have long since gone to their reward but if they could speak for themselves they would no doubt claim they were doing their best in appalling circumstances,” he adds. They were so young when they entered religious life — typically in their late teens or early 20s — that they had little understanding of the secular world and were evidently short on managerial skills.” And while explaining the “positively Dickensian” circumstances of Ireland at the time, he feels it necessary to add, “Very often readers do not have the experience and worldly wisdom to see through the nonsense, particularly in interpreting reported developments in nations whose cultures diverge sharply from those of the West.” On this at least we agree — if there is a “reward” in the afterlife, I sincerely hope the nuns who ran the Home are receiving it.
Obviously those young, dear sweet innocent nuns had heads filled with dark, evil, malicious religious beliefs -- typical, isn't it? The spurious lie of eternal life that seems to always lead to evil and abuse in this life.
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Comment Preferences

  •  They haven't discovered 800 bodies in a septic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, marykk

    tank.

    This is a really weird part of this viral story. No one's actually discovered 800 bodies. There's a story about a kid in the 1970's uncovering a few skeletons but the 800 number is coming from the local historian's "guess".

    Look, I tried to be reasonable...

    by campionrules on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:40:49 PM PDT

    •  Hey, what are you doing there with facts (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, Namazga III, EdMass, marykk

      It's already afternoon and Dkos hasn't filled its daily anti-Catholic diary quota and who says they need to diary on a new topic when they can repeat the same diary over and over and over again.  

      And yes, I KNOW you hate religion, Karen, thanks for making that clear in the diary, full disclosure of ones biases wins you points for sure.  

      But WHY do you hate FACTS?

      •  Do you think DK (0+ / 0-)

        members are anti-Catholic? I had thought they were more anti-Protestant-fundamentalist.
        I'm surprised to hear someone say that.  

        I buy and sell well trained riding mules and American Mammoth Jack Stock.

        by old mule on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:57:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, Namazga III, marykk

          Though it's probably only a small minority of them who seem to believe the mission of the site is to destroy Rome.  I haven't yet figured out how that's going to elect more Democrats.

          •  First we need to find Democrats (0+ / 0-)

            worth electing.  Damn few of them, if Congress is any indication.

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:20:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

          by and large, yes.  If someone were to post many of the comments that get posted here about Islam or Judaism they'd get the banhammer in no time.

          I've been out for decades, but I know it when I see it.

          If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

          by marykk on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 06:39:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Okay, let's assume it was a few dozen kids (5+ / 0-)

      in a mass grave.  Would that number, accompanied by the documented history of neglect, malnourishment, and maltreatment, be "reasonable"?

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:59:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not at all, but hardly surprising given (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, marykk

        the nature of religious and non-religious institutions in Ireland at the time. We have similar stories here in the States and in numerous other countries.

        It's horrible. Lot's of things were horrible, including horrible acts carried out by various religious and governmental groups.

        But it's certainly not groundbreaking like: 800 INFANTS MURDERED BY CATHOLIC NUNS AND STUFFED IN SEPTIC TANK

        Look, I tried to be reasonable...

        by campionrules on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:04:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, so since similar abuses occur elsewhere (0+ / 0-)

          we can just shrug our shoulders, look the other way, drop our money in the basket, and move on.

          Good to know.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:18:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not surprising (0+ / 0-)

          given the level of poverty in Ireland at the time generally.  

          Malnutrition in Ireland did not end with the return of the potato crop.

          If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

          by marykk on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 06:23:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I should add that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, marykk

      It's clear that around 800 children died in the home during the decades its was in operation - and a higher rather than the already staggering infant mortality rate of Ireland at the time.

      However, nobodies actually found 800 bodies in a septic tank. As far as I can tell, someone interviewed the local historian, took what she said and interpreted it differently, then it got it to the Daily Mail and boom - 800 infants in a septic tank.

      Here's the link to the recent Irish Times story where they talk to the local historian again for clarification.

      http://www.irishtimes.com/...

      Look, I tried to be reasonable...

      by campionrules on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:01:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, you really should add that. (0+ / 0-)

        On your umpteenth comment on the subject you're finally not trivializing it on the basis of a detail.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:21:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo

          the issue is the deaths- not whether or not the nuns carefully wrapped the bodies in shrouds and said some magical words over them,  after starving the children to death.

          Whether the children weer dumped in a septic tank or given "good Christian burials" doesn't change anything.   And, if they are not in the septic tank, just where ARE those 800 bodies? Is there a beautifully tended graveyard next to the orphanage?)

          As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

          by BPARTR on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:31:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, you know, a good Catholic apologist (0+ / 0-)

            WOULD care about the magic words and the hallowed ground.

            Which surely all those kids got, right?  And Holy Mother Church would have the documents and records to prove it, right?

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:35:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Have you been to Ireland? (0+ / 0-)

            Irish burial custom, even to this day, permits burials on top of one another - in fact, in many cases anticipates it.  They're a lot more matter of fact about death than Americans are.

            If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

            by marykk on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 06:50:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  My 2nd comment on it ever? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Namazga III

          What

          Look, I tried to be reasonable...

          by campionrules on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:35:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It already is ugly without the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, old mule

    hype.  But those times were more than ugly to "illegitimate" children.  I don't know who, if anyone, led the battle in Ireland but Edna Gladney - yes, there've been some damned good people fighting FOR children in TX - not only started orphanages for those kids, she started the political movement to get the word "illegitimate" off their birth certificates.  In those days children born out of wedlock were considered tainted - "bad blood" - pretty much legally treated like shit and when/if they hit 12 or so expected to be foot-kissingly grateful if somebody gave them a crap job at subsistence wages.  And the warning was right there on their birth certificates for all to see should they want to get married and reproduce.

    I hate hypocrisy.  It's a pity how much of it shows up in religion.  But this old tragedy is one of its time.  What matters is has the process been changed so that can't happen again.  If not, serious screaming and hollering needs to be done until it is.  If so, this old tragedy is one of the many reminders of how far we've come - and how far we could fall again if certain ideologies/oligarchies get enough power.

    •  If you want to look at the current tragedy HERE (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bfitzinAR, marykk

      look at the difference in infant mortality rates in the US:

      http://www.census.gov/...

      That's something we should be doing something about and if religion is interfering with solutions HERE and NOW then it's fair game.  But as in Ireland, poverty, culture, and social structure contribute.  It's not religion ALONE.  

      •  Bingo - it's not religion alone (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greenbell, Diana in NoVa, marykk

        and especially not any one particular religion alone (although one as old and as monolithic as the RCs makes an easy target).  And it will take seeing the problem, analyzing the problem, generating a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the problem - and funding that strategy to get anything done.

        But as horrible is this - and other stories - of ill- treatment of children is, it is horrible to us because of the progress we've made.  That tells me we've made progress and are trying to make more.

      •  Actually, religion does interfere here and now, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Diana in NoVa, a2nite, Ice Blue

        first by demanding the funding of "faith-based" charities that often don't provide much in the way of charitable services but do include proselytizing; and in some cases by teaching "tough love" vis-a-vis the poor.

        But be that may, once again, if either of the two political parties in this country gave much of a damn about the poor . . . but they don't.  So the solution, meager as it is, is targeted, localized good works performed by actual people for actual people.   Government, which for a while in the 1930s seemed like part of the solution to social ills such as infant mortality, is now more of an obstacle to that solution than anything else.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:55:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure it interferes, it helps, it hinders, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Namazga III, marykk

          it's complex.  Religion is all wrapped up in culture and while we Americans try to separate the church from the state, it's even harder to separate cultural influences.  I guess I just tear my hair when people go off on Ireland because the history is just so long and sad and complicated and this story is just one more sad story.  Nothing began or ended with it and it's not an American story.  It's a story that needs to be told by the Irish and I believe they will tell it.  They're probably better at facing their history than we are.  

  •  Just show me the forensics evidence to the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    contrary...

  •  Infants don't belong in orphanages. That is an (5+ / 0-)

    absolute truth that has only really been appreciated in recent decades. Under decent care infants in orphanages often show 30% mortality; they basically lose the will to live, and stop eating. It takes caregiver:infant ratios of 1:2 to do any better than that.

    We don't need to invoke nefarious acts by the nuns for these deaths.

    But how could simply being in an orphanage kill a baby? Basically, they die from lack of love. When an infant falls below the threshold of physical affection needed to stimulate the production of growth hormone and the immune system, his body starts shutting down.…

    In humans, the immune system seems to be profoundly affected, making these children especially vulnerable to all types of disease -- probably because not being nurtured is extremely stressful and high levels of stress hormones can turn off the immune system. (That's why corticosteroids-- essentially stress hormones -- are often used to treat auto-immune diseases where too much immune response is the problem).

    In fact, "failure to thrive" in human infants has been shown to result from lack of individualized, nurturing, physically affectionate parental care, whether in an orphanage or due to extreme parental neglect. Babies' brains expect that they will experience nearly constant physical touch, rocking and cuddling: without it, they just don't grow. And without receiving kind empathetic care, they are less likely to behave that way towards others as they get older.

    It's not the nuns specifically: it's being in an orphanage instead of a home.



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:38:39 PM PDT

    •  This is fair, but (0+ / 0-)

      (1) until we can get all those infants adopted, they need to be sheltered and fed somewhere; and
      (2) if we had social policies that encouraged only the conception and birth of wanted children, this would be much less of a problem anyway . . . and guess who happens to be opposed to such social policies?

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:58:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's interesting to look at the social history of (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite, exlrrp, marykk, pvasileff

        infants without parents. Once philanthropy took notice of abandoned children, the foundlings homes tended to put the infants out to wet nurses, who would care for them for the first few years. This was structurally equivalent to our foster parents, and did include some money for the wet nurses. While there were certainly some abuses when it worked it worked well.

        It was late nineteenth, early twentieth century that industrialization and institutional processes made it plausible that infants could be cared for in bulk. Altogether it was about three to five decades that the experiment was undertaken before people began to realize that the problem was institutionalizing infants at all, not how it was done.

        I agree, there needs to be provision for parentless children, and the fewer unwanted children the better.



        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 02:13:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If infants are legally free for adoption (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        at least in the U.S., very few of them wait, and those who do generally have complex medical needs.  

        The problem tends to be that child welfare wheels move so slowly that plenty of kids outgrow their adoptability.

        If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

        by marykk on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 06:28:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wee Mama, you have touched on a very telling point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, a2nite, marykk

      Remember Frederick the Great or Whatever in Prussia in the 18th century? He wanted to know the original language of humankind. He therefore arranged for a bunch of orphaned infants to be fed and tended in a room. The tenders were under orders not to touch the infants except for feeding and changing and not to speak or sing to them ever.

      Well, the infants all died. Babies, as you said, need to be cuddled, held, sung to, and talked to.

      Jump to the Russian and Rumanian orphanages of modern times. Those children don't thrive either. They're mentally and physically undeveloped because of the lack of loving care as opposed to merely custodial care.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 02:33:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This springs to mind: (0+ / 0-)

    The Saga of Biorn:

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    As was said by that sage apostle Rufus in "Dogma," "The big one, though, is the fractioning of all of the religions. He said mankind got it all wrong by taking a good idea and building a belief structure on it."  

  •  As late as 1960 (0+ / 0-)

    infant mortality in Ireland - overall , not just in orphanages, was unspeakably high.

    At the turn of the twentieth century in Dublin, it was nearly five times that high.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 06:32:25 PM PDT

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