Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Horror in Ireland

So the word out today is that from the 1930s through the 1980s, the Roman Catholic church in Ireland ran a large number of "reform" schools that the government reports were places of "ritualized beatings," consistent efforts to make children feel "worthless," and routine rape, where sex offenders were (as in the USA) just moved to other institutions. The most heartbreaking part of the report is that the victims, now mostly in their 50s and older, recall that they just wished for a single kind word now and again, but none was ever forthcoming.

Naturally, the Roman Catholic priestly orders and hierarchy call this all lies and exaggeration, or say it is the responsibility of long-dead administrators. They are unwilling to take responsibility for the crimes - civil, moral, spiritual, and religious - that were perpetrated. It doesn't matter to me if the RC church claims to have changed (has it? really?) if they won't fess up to what they've done. Nobody can really be said to have "changed" unless are willing to admit what they did wrong. This is not about a "few bad apples." It's an organization that STILL refuses to take seriously the idea that molesting boys and girls is not just a sin or "weakness" but a monstrous crime that destroys children and cannot be tolerated. It's an organization that for years thought that bad kids needed the devil beaten out of them, and won't admit that was horribly, horribly wrong, hurtful, even sinful, and still won't apologize for what it did. Obviously, I'm furious. I can only wonder what actual church members will think if they are ever told of this.


Anonymous said...

This is a situation that really does need to be cleaned is a boil on is hard to believe in this day and age, we tolerate this kind of mid evil activity. Then again, it is hard to believe that just 5 years ago, some college kids in Texas drug a black man to death with their pick up truck just because he was black. Great post, thanks.

Anonymous said...

It pains me to say that I am not entirely surprised. The order of priests mentioned in the NYT article on this is the same order which mistreated Australian child migrants and orphanages and boarding schools for a good bit of the twentieth century.

While I may be one of six people who saw the 1997 movie "The Butcher Boy," it depicts what was probably a fairly common kind of reform school during the 1960s (and Sinead O' Connor plays the Virgin Mary - no joke). Brutal stuff, even in the probably-idealized movie version.

My guess, being neither Irish nor Catholic, is that the existence of these schools and the treatment of these children was an open secret in Ireland for decades, much like the Magdalene laundries where women were imprisoned for having kids out of wedlock or just being "bold."*

The NYT article mentioned that the schools were phased out in the 1980s, and I have to wonder whether there was an economic reason for that (the death knell for Magdalene laundries may have been a cheaper industrial clothes dryer). Was it cheaper to make brooms or cut peat with a machine?

So sad, so horrible, so unnecessary.

-Seventh Sister

*I highly recommend the movie "The Magdalene Sisters" as well as the accompanying documentary "S*x in a Cold Climate."

Pombat said...

I sort of want to rant about this, but have nothing constructive to say. Suffice to say I am not remotely surprised, but am still very upset for the people who endured this hideous abuse at the hands of those they needed to be able to trust :-(

It's time that having a go at religions ceased to be a taboo, so that everyone can express to the Catholic Church (note: the church, not individual [innocent] members thereof) exactly how wrong we know this is/was, by both societal standards and the standards of the Church itself (have they even *read* the Bible?!).

Bob said...

I agree with LTG about the infuriating lack of _accountability_. Ta-Nehisi Coates has eloquently alluded to this, and I've ranted about it here. I was talking about students, but it's true (more true!) of churches and other arbiters of morality.

(I also agree with everyone else, but they said it better than me.)

But I don't think I understood this last sentence: "I can only wonder what actual church members will think if they are ever told of this."

I mean, isn't that what the AP is doing? Telling people, Catholics too?

Pombat said...

If the actual church members don't know by now, then there are a whole lot of thin-walled apartment dwellers who need to ask them where they got their ear plugs from.

Which is a convoluted way of saying those that "don't know" do, they're just avoiding the truth - denial at it's best.

USwest said...

I'm Catholic, but not Irish. My take as a Catholic is that none of this is shocking. In fact, I am sad to say that when I heard this news the other day, I rolled my eyes in a "ho-hum" manner. Much of that abuse was a nasty product of the age. It was being done not just by the Church. If I were Irish, I'd be very pissed off that the Church was given such a free hand in my government. In the end, the government should have stepped in. But Ireland was effectively s theocracy.

It is no surprise to me that the Catholic Church is misogynic and child-hating. Why do you think I quit? Much of what the Church teaches is backwards and cold. This is a Church that refuses to accept humanity for what it is. In fact, I think it hates humanity. Any Church that teaches original sin must hold little but distain for being human. They would rather force priests into a life of celibacy than given into the human need for intimacy. They would rather people die of AIDS than allow condoms. They would prefer a woman die in childbirth than have an abortion. They claim Jesus was a man like all men, but he was never married, never had sex, never even had a girlfriend (He did hang out with 12 men on long trips on fishing boats!!! Doh! I felt the bolt of lightening) What kind of MAN is that?

I also wonder what horrid things hide in the closets of other faiths? The Catholic Church is a very easy target because unlike other Christian groups, it is very centralized. It's a little harder to look at Baptist preacher who commits incest and then label the entire Baptist organization.

My older sisters were in a local Catholic School in California in the 1950s. They still blame the nuns for a lot of their hang-ups, but will also admit that this was somewhat typical of the times. There wasn't anywhere near the type of abuse discussed in the NYT article, but corporal punishment like rulers across knuckles, putting your nose against a spot on the black board, failing to dispense praise, etc. My sisters feel that they are less outgoing and assertive as adults in large part because of the public humiliation that was typical of the era. I went to Catholic School in the 1980s and it was fine. I had lay teachers and corporal punishment was long gone. Praise was dispensed regularly when deserved. The times had changed.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Bob- when I posted this, it was about an hour before it hit all the major papers. So I just sort of found it in a corner of the web and didn't realize it would become a major news story, which it did.

The Law Talking Guy said...

"Much of that abuse was a nasty product of the age. It was being done not just by the Church."

Three responses.
1. The abuses seen here are really more Dickensian than mid-twentieth century. The Irish church was at least half a century late for its reform schools to be so horrific. I don't buy that other institutions were as bad at the time.

2. So what? The Roman Catholic church is no ordinary institution. It claims exclusive and privileged access to universal truths. Unless the Roman Catholic church is going to start adopting a code of moral relativism, they are obligated to own up to their past sins - even when those sins were not considered 'wrong' at the time - beg forgiveness, and repent. Otherwise they are denying, in essence, that what was done was wrong. The Roman Catholic church doesn't forgive sins on the grounds that you didn't understand what you did was wrong. It requires you to accept that what you did was wrong and repent.

3. I also am not even sure that the RC clergy running these institutions were merely misguided, meant will, and actually believed that what they were doing was right. It sounds sadistic.

USWest said...

Go ask some of the Irish in Boston what happened to them at the hands of the Church. Then talk to me about how far behind the Irish, Irish Church was.