Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Ireland, Jesus Wept


The Irish Child Abuse Commission Report, previously anticipated in my blog post here, is finally public and it is horrific. Tens of thousands of innocent Irish children tortured in state-sanctioned and inspected religious institutions. Tens of thousands.

I only read bits and pieces of it so far, between tears, between walking away and just trying to absorb the full extent of the little reading I've done on the atrocities committed by the Irish religious orders entrusted with the children in their care. The neediest of children, orphans, abandoned, ofspring of incestuous relationships, rapes, or just impoverished parents (widowers, widows, separated) putting them into care.

Apart from the sexual atrocities committed on these innocent children, some as young as 6, there was the brutality of their day-to-day life, often without the benefit of the education that was promised them at the outset, used as slaves in laundries, farms and residential shops. Along with being half-starved, they had to wear rough, itchy tweed clothes most times without benefit of underwear and were beaten savagely, often by more than one religious brother, on a daily basis. Just for the sin of being left-handed or a bedwetter.
He ...(Br X)... flogged me one time, I was working in the piggery. I used to be starving,
the pigs used to get the Brothers’ leftovers and one day there was lovely potatoes and I
took some and I took a turnip. Br ...X... caught me and he brought me up to the
dormitory, he let down my trousers and he lashed me. He always wore a leather,
around 18 inches ...(long)... and it was all stitched with wax, his leather was very thin. It
was about an inch and a half, others had leathers about 2 inches. He lashed me, he
flogged me.


Wetting the bed merited a punishment just shy of a hanging:

I was beaten stark naked for wetting the bed, 2 or 3 different people would beat me.
You would be called up after breakfast by Br ...X.... He was evil. He liked beating kids
naked, he would put your head between his legs ...(while he beat you)... for wetting the
bed, and more bed-wetting boys would be there as well ...(watching)... The night
watchman would get you up at night with a stick, every night. He would beat you out of
the bed. You’d have to bring the sheets up to be washed to the laundry and a bigger
boy would beat you with a stick there, he was the senior in the laundry


And the catalogue of injuries and atrocities continues:
Witnesses reported a catalogue of injuries to themselves and co-residents as a result of
physical abuse by religious and lay staff members in the 26 Schools reported to the Committee.
Two hundred and twenty four (224) reports were heard of injuries including: breaks to ribs,
noses, wrists, arms and legs, injuries to head, genitalia, back, mouth, eye, ear, hand, jaw, face
and kidney. Sixty four (64) witnesses reported being left unable to walk, sit, stand or lie down as
a result of those injuries. Other injuries included burns, dog bites, lacerations, broken teeth,
dislocated shoulders, injuries to the soles of feet, and burst chilblains. Chilblains were a
common ailment in the pre-1970s period and male witnesses reported experiencing severe pain
after being struck on hands and legs with chilblains. Witnesses reported that at times they were
beaten until their chilblains burst and bled.


There is more. Far, far more. For instance, there was minimum medical care and dental care was extraction by a nurse, often without benefit of anaesthetic.
It is all shocking and hard to stomach. I've only read bits and pieces as I've said. But this abusive mentality pervaded many religious institutions in Ireland right up to the eighties, often conscripting the older children in their care to abuse the younger ones.

Hopefully, with this floodlighting of the systemic problem there will be healing for the unfortunate victims. Retribution? Most perpetrators are probably dead. I know I personally, witnessed abuse. Mild compared to this report, but still abuse - belittling by nuns, favouritism, corporal punishment with sticks and belts.

And I salute the courage of all concerned in coming forward.

Is the Irish government finally separating the matters of church and state? I hope so.

And below (courtesy of the Irish Times) a picture of a dormitory (imagine a childhood spent in that stark unending room) at Artane, where much abuse took place.

24 comments:

  1. This was on the news here last night and they showed interviews with some of the survivors (what else to call them?) and it was just horrific and so infinitely sad. More then anything, it made me very angry and I want to kick someone very hard. That leaves the Catholic Church to kick, because who else is there? The pope himself should gather all these people together for an exceptional Holy Mass and say Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa very loud and ask for an apology. Plead for an apology!

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  2. Disgusting,disgusting!As you know the same thing went on here in institutions run by both the Catholic and the Protestant authorities.

    What a perversion of Jesus' request to bring the children to him.

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  3. Absolutely sickening and unforgivable. The accumulated pain and suffering and psychological damage doesn't bear thinking about. The question is, how to stop it happening again? One blogger suggested severing the Catholic church completely from any institution looking after children. Excellent idea.

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  4. Irene:
    Lives destroyed forever for these poor poor victims. I personally knew 2 suicides here in Canada from such institutions. It is beyond belief and all in the name of God.
    XO
    WWW

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  5. GFB:
    The structure of the churches, by their nature, are evil. All that power. All that brainwashing.
    XO
    WWW

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  6. Nick:
    I agree and why were these male children not exposed to mother figures? It pains me so much thinking of these little fellows with nowhere to go, ever, no nurturing of any kind. I wonder if there have been follow-ups on them. I'd say addiction, crime and suicides were frequent.
    I've been profoundly affected by this having been in this institutions (entertining the 'inmates') growing up and remembering the little faces.
    I'mm completely sickened.
    XO
    WWW

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  7. It is always the weakest in societies that get the brunt of everything. Children are so innocent and vulnerable, they have no way of protecting themselves from such horrible individuals. :(

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  8. Ye gods! Evil, nothing less!
    Not quite on a par with Hitler's doings, but not far off.

    I'm sure this didn't only go on in Ireland either.

    Roman Catholicism, instead of presenting the caring compassionate face on Earth of (who they think of as their leader) Jesus Christ - has become the face of pure Evil on this planet. :-(

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  9. Sickening and heart-scalding as all this is, Mary, the most horrible part is that they are all going to get off scot-free. Not a single one of these monsters is named in the report, and it has already been agreed that there will be no attempt to exact retribution for destroying the lives of those unfortunate children. The catholic church still has a death grip on the body politic in Ireland, as evidenced by earlier agreement between government and church that severely limited the amount of restitution to the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy that would be paid by the church. By far the largest percentage was footed by the Irish taxpayer, who got royally screwed.

    Suffer the little children, indeed.

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  10. Nevin:
    Absolute power=absolute corruption. I've never seen it fail.
    XO
    WWW

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  11. T:
    It is one of the places on the globe where religion and government are highly intertwined thus so many needing protection fall through the cracks.
    It makes me despise the catholic church and its hypocrites.
    And some of these kids were leased out to monsters who took them off to hotel rooms. Seriously.
    It is among the most depraved abuse of religions I've ever seen.
    XO
    WWW

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  12. Tessa:
    Well, they haven't reckoned with the outcry of the citizens yet. So many, many families are affected by this. The multi-generation effects still linger on.
    I really don't have the words to describe my feelings about this and my born-again hatred for the catholic church and what it does in the name of God.
    XO
    WWW

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  13. Artane Industrial School was in Dublin near where I grew up. The reports so far do not cover Dublin and they will come shortly.

    I was at school until 1965 and if you complained about abuse or cruelty in school, you were not believed. Nuns and priests had taken Vows of Poverty, CHASTITY and obedience so therefore were considered to be walking saints. What would children know? Why would they be believed?

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  14. GM:
    I can't think of it all without crying, I am so affected by this scourge.
    In one sense we are so blessed not to be born "bastards" back then or have the stupidity to be raped by priest and subsequently locked up.
    I am haunted by the little faces I saw, never knowing, me believing as only a child can believe in the goodness of the holy fathers and holy brothers.
    Sanctimonious paedophiles, I hope they burn forver in the hell I don't believe in.
    XO
    WWW

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  15. how could an institution that is supposed to be all about love and caring commit such evil horrendous torture on the most vulnerable members of society. I don't understand. I can't even begin to grasp it to be honest. It's too overwhelming to take in.

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  16. i know, i know, i know....i read the irish times story a few weeks ago that warned the report would be shocking. but it's so awful, so beyond comprehension.

    just about every irish novel i've ever read mentions the abuse and the beating, sometimes almost in passing. it was no secret. the shame of it, being protected for so long. i understand your tears.

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  17. ps and where did i hear the catholic church referred to as "ireland's taliban"? not so far off, eh?

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  18. Conor:
    I'm like you, it is so overwhelming, I imagine a lot of our people feel the same way, our minds just can't get around the extent of it.
    And the perps walk among us as free men!!
    XO
    WWW

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  19. Laurie:
    It is a land far removed from leprachauns and jolly tinkers.
    Christianity long killed the days of old where Queen Maeve reigned and the goddess was honoured.
    Maybe this exposure will bring back our true heritage!
    Pollyanna much?!
    XO
    WWW

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  20. but, like conor says, it's hard to understand why so many people wanted to hurt vulnerable children. the WHY is never answered to our satisfaction.

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  21. Laurie:
    I think it a combination of sadists and paedophiles using the church as a means of access to the most vulnerable. In Lota, there were mentally challenged children who were abused equally.
    Paedophiles don't see children as human beings but strictly as objects to be perverted and used without thought. Like toilet paper.
    the church has always attracted these perverts by its very nature and its bloviating celibacy requirements. Celibacy my arse. I've known enough priests.
    XO
    WWW

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  22. I read some of the report and had to stop - it just sickened me too much. The idea that people who believed in the word of God, forgiveness and heaven and hell could even think of behaving that way towards children just beggars belief.
    Even worse was watching a debate show yesterday on UK TV, where two things stood out. One was that the first documented case of paedophilia in the Catholic Church was in the 1st C AD (though I do not know the sources for this), and the other was a Welsh priest who desperately tried to excuse the abuse by saying that as the majority of boys who were raped were over the age of 11, it wasn't paedophilia, it was a sign of homosexuality within the Church (and therefore alright?!?). He got absolutely ripped to shreds by the studio audience (particularly by a female survivor...), quite rightly. But the level of people within the debate who were prepared to defend the Church (also pointing out that there was a papal decree in the 60s agreeing to bury any allegations of abuse (again, I don't know the sources of this)) absolutely sickened me.
    Trying to excuse the inexcusable :-(

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  23. Jo:
    The justifications truly underline the corrupt infallibility stance of the church, consenting children being a new twist. It is not good for my blood pressure even to read such things, that guy Donahue saying it was 'exaggerated' as well. Maybe he should be suspended naked in a shower and beaten and see how exaggerated he feels at the end of it.
    I agree, Jo, it is beyond sickening, I hope the RC Church is run out of town on a rail.
    XO
    WWW

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  24. Holy Sh*t. How the hell did those in authority justify their behaviour in the sight of the Lord?

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