Thursday, June 12, 2014

Footnotes: Women, Violence, and Marriage; Irish Homes for Unwed Mothers; Archbishop Carlson's Testimony in Minnesota


Footnotes to previous discussions here this week:

At Slate, Amanda Marcotte responds to W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson's Washington Post op-ed piece that I discussed yesterday, which argues that women can spare themselves violence by marrying strong male protectors. Marcotte's powerful concluding takedown of Wilcox and Wilson's argument:

It's hard to overstate the gross negligence of this piece (which, by the way, is pegged to Father’s Day). One of the most confounding issues when it comes to domestic violence is that many victims believe that if they just love a little harder and put a little more work into the relationship, they can turn an abusive partner into a loving one. Even though Wilcox and Wilson admit "married men can and do abuse or assault their wives," they immediately return to arguing that "married fathers are much less likely to resort to violence," as if the marriage itself was the reason. The last thing that women in abusive relationships need is to be told that they can turn a bad man good by marrying him. Women in abusive relationships need help getting out, not a prod to stay in.

At Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams slams the "pathetic scramble" to spin the story of the Irish homes for unwed mothers as what happened "back then." I've noted the growing controversy about the facts of the Tuam case here and here. Williams's response to those now attempting to spin stories about Irish baby homes (she specifically addresses Eamon Fingleton in Forbes):

Let’s look at this "nonsense." The abuses of women and children that went on in the Irish homes and institutions of its sort in the first part of the 20th century have been well established and documented. A 2009 Child Abuse Commission report cited multiple accounts of "physical, emotional, neglect and sexual" abuse throughout the Irish church- and state-run institutions at the time, and last year, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny issued a formal apology to the women who were forced into labor in the country’s infamous Catholic-run Magdalene Laundries, calling it "a national shame." A 1944 report on the conditions in the Home notes overcrowded conditions and children who were "poor, emaciated and not thriving," "pot-bellied" and "fragile." And Corliss recalls that growing up, those managerially challenged nuns would make sure that the Home children "were always segregated to the side of regular classrooms…. They didn’t suggest we be nice to them. In fact if you acted up in class some nuns would threaten to seat you next to the Home Babies." In some years, more than half of the children died.

At National Catholic Reporter, Dennis Coday offers NCR readers a statement of the Catholic archdiocese of St. Louis which claims that "certain media outlets" have taken out of context the remarks of Archbishop Robert Carlson in his deposition in Minnesota hearings about the cover-up of clerical abuse of minors. I cited Carlson's remarks earlier this week, noting that he clearly and explicitly states in his testimony that he did not know if clerical abuse of minors was a crime when he was bishop in St. Paul-Minneapolis in 1984.

Coday's article takes at face value the St. Louis archdiocesan claims that Carlson has been quoted out of context and that his good name and reputation have been "impugned" by inaccurate reporting. At Commonweal, Grant Gallicho demurs, noting that Coday's NCR disclaimer "essentially repeats the archdiocese's press release" and that NCR had even added an update to a Religion News Service article they published about Carlson's testimony "which also parrots the archdiocese's claims."

Later yesterday, Coday responded with a second article at NCR, noting Gallicho's article and stating that he may have been "too hasty" in reporting on the St. Louis archdiocesan statement.

And as I've been asking in one way or another in the last several days (see here and here), what the hell is going on with National Catholic Reporter right now?

(A footnote within a footnote: guess who's addressing the U.S. Catholic bishops today on matters of family? None other than J. Bradford Wilcox of University of Virginia's National Marriage Project — and the author of that stinky Washington Post editorial cited above encouraging women to marry strong men and stop sleeping around, if they expect to be avoid violence. Jamie Manson is on the story at NCR).

And a P.S. Lest any reader of this piece try the tired old strategy of attacking Mary Elizabeth Williams's testimony about the Irish homes for unwed mothers on the grounds that she's 1) anti-Catholic or 2) anti-Irish: she's, in fact, an Irish-American Catholic (and here).

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