Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Tuam Story: Tablet's Helpful Summary of Salient Facts This Morning

As my posting yesterday about the Tuam story suggests (well, to me, at least), we're now going to see a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with this story. Stories like this are positively calculated to produce claims and counterclaims, given the longstanding (and now very shopworn) tendency of many tribalistic Catholics to circle the wagons when any news at all reflects negatively on our church, and to cry foul as the news circulates freely in the secular media. And given the propensity of many groups who have an understandable bone to pick with the Catholic hierarchy to leap on news stories like the Tuam story and, in some cases, ride them to insupportable conclusions . . . . 

As Conrad Noll warned us from the outset in comments here, figuring out (from a distance) what happened in Tuam and at other institutions in Ireland is going to take time and patience. Meanwhile, there seem to be some clearly established facts about the Tuam case that are not going to go away, I think that Abigail Frymann does a very good job of recounting them for The Tablet this morning: 

The Archbishop of Dublin has called for a "full-bodied investigation" into all of Ireland's mother and baby homes after details emerged of 796 children and babies who had died at a convent-run home in County Galway for whom no burial records could be found. 
Locals discovered children's skulls in a septic tank beside the home in Tuam run by the Sisters of Bon Secours in 1975. Ten days ago research by local woman Catherine Corless was published on the children who died at the home between 1925 and 1961, when the home was closed. 
Using the Galway Births and Deaths Registry she discovered 796 children aged between one to ten years old died during that time, many from sickness or malnutrition, but no burial records were available. 
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin told RTE radio he feared the discovery at Tuam may not be unique. 
"The indications are that if something happened in Tuam, it probably happened in other mother and baby homes around the country," Dr Martin told RTÉ radio.

For a less helpful account of the same facts, marred by an excessively tribalistic-defensive approach to the story, see Kevin Clarke at America, a once-noble American Jesuit journal on the cutting edge of Catholic news and theology that seems intent these days on becoming a caricature of its former self.

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