A day off work, a quick check of the twitter feed and I find this. Suddenly I’m immersed in an atrocity story from my homeland and the red mist descends. I shake. My stomach churns. I am beyond angry. A distance of four thousand and more miles means nothing. The appalling story of the Tuam babies consumes me. Eight hundred babies, victims of malnutrition, emaciated, discarded like so much shite in a septic tank, by the nuns of the Bon Secour order of the Catholic church.
There are calls for an inquiry. There are calls for a memorial. There are calls for investigations and possibly prosecutions.
There have been investigations into Catholic institutions and their abuse before this. When the next atrocity is unearthed there will be more calls for investigations. The Catholic church has alternately refused to co-operate, elided the questions, remained aloof, contemptuously ignored governments and the people they represent. As an institution it has avoided its obligation to co-operate with the Irish state to shine a light on crime after crime. They have muddied the waters and sought to distance themselves from the crimes of their priests and practitioners. Crimes which the Church hierarchy in bishops palaces and Roman conclave have denied have anything to do with their institution but are rather the work of individuals. They have offered to pray for those individuals.
Now we hear that the current head of the Bon Secour order and the Bishop of Tuam will be meeting to decide on a memorial at the mass grave-site. What would a memorial say? “Here were discarded the emaciated, diseased and malnourished bodies of 800 children, secretly buried in a sewage tank by those entrusted with their care, promptly sealed, concealed and forgotten, the better to preserve the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church”. Well….that’s what it should say.
Calls for an investigation could expose some individuals still alive who perpetrated this monstrous crime. We see 80- and 90-year old war criminals being brought to book so why not the criminals here? Already the Church is anticipating this, and is up and running and distancing itself from the crime. In an extraordinary statement from the spokesman for the local bishop, Fr. Fintan Monaghan says that “we can’t really judge the past from the point of view of the present, from our lens”. Really? Was manslaughter, possibly murder, systematic abuse of children, cruelty and the concealment of a crime not criminal behavior in mid-20th century Ireland, just as it is now? That fact that the Bon Secour nuns were intent on concealing the extent of the neglect and malfeasance within their establishment would suggest a group that knew what they were doing was criminal. If this was some unfortunate circumstance where children were dying through no fault of the nuns, then why the need for the cover-up? The problem isn’t the lens of the present it’s the crimes of the past and the continued wish of the Church to conceal them to protect its future.
Maybe the good Fr. Monaghan could consider this — if walling up children because them are deemed outcast, somehow less than other members of society, watching them die of malnutrition, infectious diseases and neglect, their wasted bodies consigned to a pit is something “we can’t really judge” then should we not judge as crime the deaths of little children consigned, walled-in, malnourished etc. in the Warsaw or Lublin ghettoes? Because make no mistake, the root cause of these concurrent mid-20th century crimes is the same — Fascist entities projecting their power to control and shape societies, scapegoating those deemed lesser, all to preserve their power and prestige. That these children, innocent victims of this power dynamic, weren’t deemed worthy of a decent burial is a measure of the contempt in which they were held. It is a clear window into the arrogant fascist mind of the perpetrators.
So yes, there will be investigations, a memorial, maybe even a prosecution. None of which will suit the Church or the government. Both entities would rather shove this under the carpet. And it will not be sufficient.
I’m old enough to remember the burning of the British embassy following the Bloody Sunday atrocity. Much as I would like to see a righteous crowd march on the Nuncio on the Navan road or the palace of the Archbishop of Tuam, and burn it to the ground, I think it unlikely. The rule of law and exhaustion with the exposure of yet another Church crime would suggest the Archbishop of Tuam can rest in his feather bed without too much anxiety. I do think it’s past time for Irish citizens to consider direct action against this parasitic cult and its official enablers.
Here are some simple, democratic ideas to convey our anger and unwillingness to tolerate the contempt shown the people and our institutions by the Catholic Church:
Businesses and tradespeople should refuse service to the clergy. You are a plumber, the parish priest calls you up, his toilet is backed up, tell him to call someone else. You have a business, hang a sign “We reserve the right to refuse service to members of the clergy”. Sure times are hard, who can afford to turn away business? Well I think you might find more people than not would support this kind of boycott, an honorable tradition in Irish political culture. And I’d love to hear someone argue discrimination on the basis of religion. It is long past time we discriminated on the basis of religion. The Catholic Church in Ireland based its power on such discrimination, what a delicious irony to turn that weapon back on it. .
And what about some public shaming? You see a priest on the street. Turn your back on them. Refuse to acknowledge them. Shun them. They’ll know why. Why acknowledge the members of a fascist power cult? Why not let them know their position as a functionary in a criminal conspiracy is outside the pale? Priests seem to prefer civilian clothes and going in mufti these days, but we know who you are. And we know where you live.
Local media needs to shut them down, not report their ceremonies, their events, their utterances. Deny them the exposure they need to deny their crimes. Do not feed the cult. When reporting these crimes don’t seek comment from the church. Would you seek comment from holocaust deniers about Auschwitz? No.
Any investigation needs to be conducted by a Justice department armed with broad powers to project the will of the people to see justice done. Not just prosecuting some 85-year old nun for her actions fifty years ago, but getting the warrants, going to the bishops’ palaces and the church archives and confiscating all records that haven’t been destroyed in the cover up. If this was Republicans or suspected radicals you can bet your arse Special Branch would be kicking down doors and terrorizing anyone who got in their way. If some jumped up Monsignor gets roughed up a little in the process, well I’m sure the poor abused children in heaven will intercede to protect him from anything worse.(Yes, that was sarcasm.)
If there is evidence of a cover up, then arrest everyone involved up to and including the Primate of Ireland if need be. Trust me, whatever the priests tell you, your eternal souls will be alright. And there will be a cover-up. Doubtless the Archbishop of Tuam has had a team of seminarians combing the episcopal archives for references to the Tuam home to feed to his shredder. If you see a bonfire at the Bon Secours HQ, you know it’s not leaves and garden clippings they’re burning. In fact, if I was a betting man I’d say the destruction of evidence has been going on for years already. That’s a crime that you can pin on someone and prosecute them for.
Any kind of vote on these matters in the Dáil or locally should be open and not a secret ballot, the better to expose the Church’s apologists, the creatures in thrall to their power and sundry rosary-rattlers. Anyone taking the side of Church over people should pay for this at the polls.
Somebody, somewhere needs to pay for this outrage, this obscenity.
I hope I’m wrong but I reckon this will be another shameful episode consigned to history, and the Catholic Church will continue to claw it’s way back onto the Irish body politic.They have been the enemy of the Irish people for so long I despair that we will ever be shot of them. Are there no crimes, no evil, they cannot survive?