Sunday, March 5, 2017

Catherine Corless' Research About Mass Grave at Irish Catholic Home for Unwed Mothers and Children Confirmed: "They Leech the Light Out of a Room"

When Catherine Corless's research suggesting that there was a mass grave at a home for unwed mothers and their children at Tuam in County Galway, Ireland, first began to be circulated, the blowback from some apologists in the Catholic institution was enormous. It took real grit and determination for her to keep investigating this story in the face of claims she was lying, that she was out to get the church, that she had exaggerated her findings and what they meant, and on and on.

As Ireland's commissioner for children TD who is the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs,* Katherine Zappone has now confirmed, Corless was right all along. She's a hero.

Catherine Corless sums up her findings about the Tuam home and its mass grave in an interview with Tom Sykes: 

The fact that the deaths were reported and that death certificates were issued for the children who were never buried – and let us not forget that prohibiting the decent burial of a human is and always has been a terrible crime in Ireland - is an indication of the incredible arrogance of the nuns. But it is also evidence that there must have been a wide circle of people in authority and the church who knew full well what was going on. Multiple children's bodies a year were disappearing, unaccounted for, and no questions were asked. 
"They were a law unto themselves," says Corless, "They were surrounded by those eight foot high walls. Nobody – literally nobody - was allowed in; they were met at the gate and hardly any outsiders were brought in. They didn’t employ any locals as such -maybe they might bring somebody in for maintenance, for fixing the roof or a chimney–but otherwise the women who gave birth there and who were waiting to give birth, they were the ones that did all the work." . . . 
Corless believes that financial motivation was the primary motivation behind the illegal burials. 
"A coffin for each of those children would have cost money. But they gave the impression that they were buying coffins because in the local paper, every six months, there was an advertisement looking for tenders to supply coffins for the Tuam home."

Charles Pierce responds to the Tuam story: 

The children were separated from their mothers, who often got shuffled into the infamous Magdalene Laundries. The children then were put up for adoption. Hogan has links to Irish newspapers going back years describing the repressive, sex-hysterical Catholic theocratic impulse behind facilities like the one in Tuam. Some of the clips describe a bureaucracy of death only a couple of steps beyond that of Buchenwald. 
God damn the people who did this, and whoever in the Church enabled it. 

That fine phrase the repressive, sex-hysterical Catholic theocratic impulse? That impulse is alive and well in one wing of the Catholic church today, isn't it? In fact, it's that very wing that, both in the U.S. and abroad, claiming it advocates for an ethic of life while it applauds attacks on immigrants and ripping healthcare coverage for the poor, is delighted to have Mr. Trump in the White House. 

Charles Pierce ends his commentary by pointing his readers to Joni Mitchell and the Chieftains singing about the Magdalene Laundries (the video at the head of the posting), a song in which we encounter these lines:

These bloodless brides of Jesus
If they had just once glimpsed their groom
Then they'd know and they'd drop the stones
Concealed behind their rosaries
They wilt the grass they walk upon
They leech the light out of a room . . . .

These are absolutely damning lines to apply to any followers of Jesus Christ, are they not? At an institutional level in Ireland, the Catholic church is in deep trouble, due to the behavior of too many of its chief institutional representatives for years, in a country that permitted the church extreme power, with little separation of church and state.

That power corrupted many Catholic official representatives, and the result has been that a large percentage of Irish Catholics have now turned their back on the church at an institutional level. But perhaps this is a chance for the church to be reborn as what it always should have been in the first place: the people's church. It was the deep commitment of the Irish people to Catholic values that led Ireland to enact marriage equality by popular vote — an action that got into the face of Catholic leaders, but also showed those leaders what real Catholic commitment to love, justice, and mercy is all about.

*Please see Chris Morley's information below about Katherine Zappone's correct title.

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