Fifty Percent

In Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church rules. In 2014, abortion – even after rape – is illegal, and prosecuted. The church claims that this is done to save the life of the unborn. Last week, from a ‘Home for Unmarried Mothers and their Children’, the world witnessed first hand the dark, sinister side of this ‘protection’ and what adherence to Christian moral can result in.

Before we go on, we must recall that between 1930 and 1960 – not only in Ireland, but especially there – Mothers who birthed children out of wedlock were called ‘fallen women’ and were ostracized; with them, their babies:

The children of these women were denied baptism and segregated from others at school. If they died at such facilities, they were also denied a Christian burial.

These women and their children were forced to live in these church-run ‘homes’, where they were constantly shamed, humiliated and degraded, spat upon and punished for their ‘sins’. Harrowing accounts from many independent sources, children who grew up at the same time alongside the outcasts, support their stories:

One woman, who deeply regrets her actions today, recounts how, when she was in second grade, she

wrapped a tiny stone in a bright candy wrapper and gave it to a Home Baby as a gift. When the child opened it, she saw she’d been fooled.

It was a cruel prank, and everyone but the victim laughed heartily. They didn’t know they were cruel; the children of unmarried mothers were scum. Why? Because the Church said so.

Mistreating the ‘Home Babies’ was generally accepted, and pervasive. In what appears to be the tip of the iceberg, a more or less open secret has been dragged into light last week:

Research into the undocumented deaths of some 800 children from 1930 to 60 revealed some shameful results. All deceased were ‘Home Babies’; all died from neglect. The story became notorious when a journalist alleged that the bodies where found in the remains of a septic tank. The authorities knew about this: Child mortality rate among Home Babies was reported as high as 50% and more – much higher than average.

Some people try to defend the neglect as a result of the Nuns who ran the Home being overwhelmed by the sheer number of unmarried mothers and their babies. Perhaps; I don’t want to point an accusing finger at the nuns. But the fact remains that the problem was entirely created by the Church and their doctrine of sin. That nuns perpetrated these atrocities out of their desire to help is tragic. And it certainly does not justify the contempt and injustice these mothers and their children had to endure.

This double standard still persists today. Catherine Corless, a local historian, published her research into the deaths of 796 children at the Tuam Home in a local journal in 2012. This was largely ignored. It was only a few weeks ago when the world started to take notice, and only after it was sensationalized throught the addition of the (probably untrue) septic tank detail. Yet, mirroring the developments around the systematic rape of children by priests, official reaction was slow and hesitant. If anyone except the Church were implicated, the whole area would have been cordoned off immediately and would be swarming with forensic experts. So far, the Irish Government has announced that it was putting together a group to investigate.

Yet, indeed, there is no rush. We all know why these children died: because the majority of the population adhered to a perverse morality, founded entirely on religion.