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Trying to wriggle out of it

But, we are told, it wasn’t the church, or it wasn’t the church alone, or the church was just following orders adhering to the norm, or it was poverty and wars and the drink, or no one else wanted these children and it was very kind of the church to take them in, or you’re just a pack of bigoted secularists so you are. An avowedly Catholic blog runs through them all, one after the other.

The story of the home run by the Catholic sisters of the Bon Secours has hit the UK press after a resulting Irish media storm.

It has predictably whipped up anti-Catholic outrage and sentiment amongst the small clique of Irish secularists who seem to inhabit Twitter, lurking to pounce on anyone who dares to say anything less than condemnatory about the Catholic Church in Ireland.

It may be predictable, but is it wrong? I can’t see the wrongness. The Catholic church had and continues to have huge pretensions to tell everyone in Ireland what to do in great and intrusive detail. Why should they not be held to a very high moral standard? Why should wholesale cruelty to and neglect of children the state hands over to their care for a fee not be greeted with anger?

The blogger goes on to squander many paragraphs on comparative irrelevancies – the mass grave, the septic tank, the unconsecrated ground, and only then get to the real issue: the neglect and the monstrously high death rate. She gets to it to minimize it.

The death rates from neglect, malnutrition and preventable diseases easily treated with antibiotics are undoubtedly shocking. No-one seeks to excuse them. With that in mind, the death rates in Tuam seem to be consistent with the death rates of illegitimate children throughout Ireland as a whole, which were 3 or 4 times that of legitimate children and double the death rates of illegitimate children in England and Wales.

Ireland was in the grip of poverty, as  Anglo-Irish Catholic tweep @dillydillys has pointed out, rural Irish society was ruthless compared with our comfortable armchair perspective. Life was tough during the lean years of the economic wars between Britain and the Free State.

No. It’s notorious that in the Industrial “Schools” the nuns ate the very best food while the children ate small amounts of cheap nasty horrible food. This is not just a matter of national poverty. The church had money, because it extorted it from the people. The church got rich and accumulated real estate. The church got money from the state for taking care of the children and babies in question. Also, as I mentioned, the church takes itself to be the moral authority for all of Ireland and all the world; it doesn’t get to fall back on the low standard that applies to Just Humans Doing Their Best In Hard Times.

This is not to deny abuses or shocking treatment, but to point the blame solely at the church alone is too simple.

Reports from 1929 show that a special maternity ward for the unmarried mothers was added to the Home in Tuam. The reason for this is that married women and paying customers at the local district hospital in Connacht were unwilling to share their hospital facilities with the ‘misfortunates’. They wanted segregation. This proposal was opposed by a priest, Canon Ryder who wanted to find accommodation for these mothers in other hospitals.

This moving of the mothers to a separate institution lacking trained staff and facilities would have undoubtedly contributed to infant and maternal mortality rates.

Society and state wanted these women to disappear and colluded with the Church who were willing to provide institutions. A sanctioned burning of library books portraying unmarried mothers in a positive light took place in Galway in 1928. A ratepayers meeting in  Portumna said that no additional burden should be placed upon married parents who already had enough to do with the raising on their own children and that the state must step in to act.

And what was the chief source of those attitudes? The Catholic church whose “teachings” pervaded all of life in Ireland at the time.

 

Comments

  1. Crimson Clupeidae says

    The death rates from neglect, malnutrition and preventable diseases easily treated with antibiotics are undoubtedly shocking. No-one seeks to excuse them. With that in mind, the death rates in Tuam seem to be consistent with the death rates of illegitimate children throughout Ireland as a whole I am now going to attempt to excuse them[.]

    I got the translator out….

  2. Athywren says

    I don’t understand… so many things… a church opposed to abortion and contraception in general on the “moral” grounds of the sanctity of life is excusing mass graves who were definitively alive, obviously sentient, and clearly suffered. Ok, the author is not the church, but it’s still an opinion that comes out of Catholicism. It bothers me that one of the most pro-life organisations in the world can react to the mass deaths of post-birth children under their care with anything but a howling rage at the injustice and wrongness of it.

    While I can understand being able to explain how this happened, why is there no criticism of the system that allowed it? I can explain how some men are able to behave in predatory ways at skeptic and atheist conferences, and I love the atheoskeptic movement, but I’m still willing and able to criticise the systems that fail or refuse to do anything to combat it. Ok, sure, it was a century ago, but what happens if times are again hard and the repulsively rich Catholic church is once more unable to support its own wards? Surely this is a problem that, if it still exists, needs to be unearthed and fixed?

    When I learnt, a couple of years ago now, that atheists and skeptics were facing off against one another over issues of equality, I recoiled in horror – we’re the thoughtful ones, we were supposed to be better than that. Why is it that anyone who strives to be worthy of their god would attempt to justify this failure, rather than recoil from it? Yes, if we put the best spin on it that we can, humans made human mistakes… but shouldn’t we be trying to ensure that we don’t make those kinds of mistakes ever again?

    I get it, you don’t want to think ill of your church or its members, but you can make it easier for yourself and future generations to think well of it if you take a stand against these kinds of events. Maybe this could never happen again… but maybe shouldn’t be good enough. If this had happened to children under the protection of the CFI, ACA, or any other humanist, skeptic or atheist organisation, “it couldn’t happen again” would not reassure me. I would want definite protections to be put in place, rules to ensure that no lives were lost that could possibly be saved; people to watch and make damn sure they never slipped back into the old ways.

    I just don’t understand how these things can be excused and explained away, especially not when we know that Catholic “hospitals” are still letting people die today – not because of any shortage of funds brought about by wars, but because of dogma.

  3. Maureen Brian says

    Wasn’t Jesus rather keen on (a) taking care of children and (b) being civil to persons with an, er, chequered sexual history? The Catholic Church seems to have lost him somewhere along the way.

  4. RuariJM says

    Do I need to point out that the anti-Catholic hysteria of the correspondents above rivals anything that was seen at the time of the mobs of the Gordon Riots?

    Probably.

    The original poster went into detail, took the time to investigate the situation and also referred to the historical context. Ireland can, of course, blame the Catholic Church for its nastiness and failures but how would that then explain pretty much exactly the same attitudes in England, which expelled and outlawed the Catholic Church 400 years earlier?

    It’s convenient to identify a scapegoat and avoid responsibility. The Irish State is implicated in any scandal up to its armpits. Seeking to shuffle all blame off the shoulders of the people – who also voted for the state and government, after all – onto the Catholic Church, which acted as the agent of the state is nothing more than anti-catholic bigotry. The same sort as was exhibited by the ignorant, bile-filled mobs in the Gordon riots. Or in the hate-filledOrange parades in the North.

  5. tiko says

    Child abuse ,slavery,an AIDS epidemic in Africa due to deliberate misinformation and now dead children in septic tanks,what atrocious act will it take for these people to admit the catholic church has a serious humanitarian problem.
    Slightly off topic but here’s another example of the catholic church trying to wriggle out of it.Over on the Friendly Atheist there’s a post about a catholic youth group leader who is accused of molesting a boy (now a man) multiple times. The church won’t take responsibility because the priest in question was not on duty when the crimes were being committed.How can they tell when he was off duty?According to them every time he molested the boy he was off duty.

    Unfuckingbelievable

  6. Blanche Quizno says

    It was Jesus who said “You’ll always have the poor with you” to justify an expensive asset being squandered on his smelly feet instead of being sold to provide money for the poor.

  7. RuariJM says

    Unity #10

    How do bigots explain the absence of penicillin and very similar social attitudes in contemporary societies that could never be argued to be dominated by the Catholic Church?

    Or than by falling back on bigoted fantasy, of course?

  8. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Ireland can, of course, blame the Catholic Church for its nastiness and failures but how would that then explain pretty much exactly the same attitudes in England, which expelled and outlawed the Catholic Church 400 years earlier?

    Except that:

    the death rates in Tuam seem to be consistent with the death rates of illegitimate children throughout Ireland as a whole, which were 3 or 4 times that of legitimate children and double the death rates of illegitimate children in England and Wales.

    It looks like the roman catholic church was twice as nasty as comparable English institutions.

    Seeking to shuffle all blame off the shoulders of the people – who also voted for the state and government, after all – onto the Catholic Church, which acted as the agent of the state is nothing more than anti-catholic bigotry.

    Well,the roman catholic church didn’t merely “act as the agent of the state”, it demanded the right to provide such care and institutions as were provided and that the state pay it for providing them. If anything, the state was the agent of the church. Dr. Noel Browne- who came off badly when as Minister of Health in the Republic of Ireland he challenged the Irish church’s powers in the 1950s- has some interesting passages in his autobiography on the relations between the two.
    As for your comparison with the Gordon Riots, you are rather over-stating the case: no-one has suggested repealing the acts granting roman catholics emancipation and the death rate among roman catholics as a result of this controversy is so low as to be unnoticeable.

    All the same, there was an acceptance that bastards tended to die younger as this poem from 1916 shows:

    The Inquest

    I took my oath I would inquire,
    Without affection, hate or wrath,
    Into the death of Ada Wright –
    So help me God! I took that oath.

    When I went out to see the corpse,
    The four months’ babe that died so young,
    I judged it was seven pounds in weight,
    And little more than one foot long.

    One eye, that had a yellow lid,
    Was shut – so was the mouth, that smiled;
    The left eye open, shinning bright –
    It seemed a knowing little child.

    For as I looked at that one eye,
    It seemed to laugh, and say with glee:
    ‘What caused my death you’ll never know –
    Perhaps my mother murdered me.’

    When I went into court again,
    To hear the mothers evidence –
    t was a love-child, she explained.
    And smiled, for our intelligence.

    ‘Now Gentlemen of the Jury,’ said
    The coroner – ‘this women’s child
    By misadventure met its death.’
    ‘Aye, aye,’ said we. the mother smiled.

    And I could see the child’s one eye
    Which seemed to laugh, and say with glee:
    ‘What caused my death you’ll never know –
    Perhaps my mother murdered me.’
    -W.H. Davies

  9. RuariJM says

    Chigau #12

    Mob violence fuelled by irrational and ignorant hatred, based on bigoted fantasies.

    Do you not see the parallels?

  10. RuariJM says

    Chigau #14

    You are obviously unaware – people used to die of infections we now consider to be minor. Childbirth was dangerous as was something as simple as an appendectomy, until penicillin became widely available – which was after WW2.

  11. tiko says

    Comments 5,9 and 11.
    Why do apologists think that because organizations other than the catholic church do bad things,that somehow gets the catholic church off the hook?

  12. RuariJM says

    Sc sockpuppet #12 -

    Have you compared mortality rates in Scotland and N Ireland with that of the Republic? And other countries in Europe?

  13. RuariJM says

    Tiki #17 -

    Why do bigots believe so firmly that convenient scapegoats carry more responsibility than reality can justify? Only deliberate lack of knowledge -and prejudiced resistance to it – can explain it, I suspect.

  14. kieran says

    Constitution had to pass muster with the catholic hierarchy hence article 44.1.2 and yes there was mention of other denominations in article 44.1.3 both deleted in 1973.
    Catholic church ran the education system, parts of the penal system( Magdalene laundries and industrial schools) and the hospitals. Society was saturated with catholic teaching, my mother would run past a church of Ireland church from fear of what the protestants might do to her, such was the fear instilled in children of other religions by society and schools.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that the state and through the state the population as a whole are also culpable but without the all encompassing nature of the catholic church in society they would have been investigated as occurred slowly with the church’s loss of power over the Irish electorate in the last twenty years. People are asking questions and expecting answers for what was done in the past. Those asking the questions and telling their stories no longer need fear the retribution of the church directly or society treating them as pariahs.

  15. says

    Sockpuppet?? Who are you to come here and call regular commenters sock puppet? For all we know you’re the sock puppet.

    Don’t be so rude. Do your apologetics for the church politely.

  16. RuariJM says

    “…I don’t think anyone is arguing that the state and through the state the population as a whole are also culpable but without the all encompassing nature of the catholic church in society…”

    Ok away but the problem is: how do you explain the same attitudes in other countries that did not have the same influence from the RC church? Societal attitudes were the same in England, Wales, Scotland, Canada, Republican Spain, etc, etc…

  17. RuariJM says

    Beg your pardon, it wasn’t note 12, it was 13. The one with the gibberish name.

    Ophelia Benson? As in Law & Order SVU.

  18. RuariJM says

    Mortality rates were generally higher back then, People unaware of that fact might, in their ignorance, draw (or be persuaded by) unsupportable conclusions. They might even judge other societies, in the past, by the mores and beliefs of today. Which would be foolish, of course, and lay those people open to ridicule.

  19. chigau (違う) says

    RuariJM
    Are you fucking kidding?
    You are, right now, commenting on Ophelia’s blog.

  20. RuariJM says

    I’m sure Ophelia is capable of looking after herself but I’m sure she’s grateful for your gallant gesture.

  21. karmacat says

    So, I noticed that the mortality rate was twice as much for illegitimate children as legitimate children. That tells me that there was more neglect of illegitimate. So why didn’t the Catholic church, this supposed paragon of morality, step in and say this is wrong. Why would they let people mistreat children that happened to be “illegitimate.” RuariJM you will of course argue that this happened in other countries, but that is a distraction. Because the catholic church says it is the moral authority, I would expect more from it. the church had (and still has) a lot of influence in Ireland.
    The other problem in this story is that the church ran these homes, but never advocated for these children. And these nuns (these supposed paragons of virtue) labeled these children as defective. Then they threw them in unmarked graves because they thought these children were less than others. I don’t understand how anyone can look at a child and not want to take care of him or her. Yet these supposed paragons of morality did not feel any empathy.

  22. RuariJM says

    I suggest you check similar rates in other countries, during the same period. Not just England, which had had an industrial revolution over a century before and had higher living standards. Try Republican Spain, Greece, Poland, Soviet Union, USA, etc…. It may cause you to scratch your head a bit.

  23. RuariJM says

    Anyway, I shall leave you to your mutual … Congratulation circle. I’m off to bed.

  24. Athywren says

    Do I need to point out that the anti-Catholic hysteria of the correspondents above rivals anything that was seen at the time of the mobs of the Gordon Riots?

    I fail to see why they would be called riots if the “hysteria” above rivals them. Maybe the Gordon Criticisms would be a better label? Unless… but no, you wouldn’t be using past atrocities in order to demonise any source of critical commentary would you? No, no, that would be vile, I’ve obviously misunderstood.

    Did you read what was said, or did you just see that it was being commented on, and make hysterical assumptions that rival anything that was seen at the time of the sacking of the library of Alexandria?

  25. says

    No not as in Law & Order SVU. As in that’s my name and this is my blog. And you misunderstood, or pretended to – I don’t care which comment it was, you don’t get to call people here sockpuppets when you just arrived. You don’t have enough information.

  26. Athywren says

    Of course he won’t be back – not after our anti-catholic hit squads have had their way! Muaha, etc.

  27. kieran says

    Yes and in these countries was it the practice to dump the bodies in a disused septic tank because it was cheaper than giving them a proper burial? These weren’t just babies as Catherine Corless has already found out, she was on the radio today saying that she has found names that were of nine year olds in her investigation.

    If history of church scandals in Ireland is anything to go by we will find many such mass graves near or on the land that was occupied by mother and child homes.

  28. says

    I’m vaguely curious, given the astroturf angle, whether our ‘pointing out atrocities is bigotry’ dude up there is perhaps well-paid for emitting their ichor…

    Meh. Who ever knows, anyone. But have fun heaping the misdirection on top of the bodies, either way, though, chum. Great hobby, too, I guess…

    And ah, yes, ‘bigotry’ is a handy word to wave around, I’d expect, in hopes of scaring off critics, when you’re caught with blood on your hands, and people are staring and pointing…

    Sure, sure. Were it in wartime, it would be a war crime. But as it is, it’s just a pile of bodies, the markers of the ends of short, miserable, exploited lives. Must be bigotry, that anyone complains.

  29. Maureen Brian says

    I wonder how the now defunct RuariJM has persuaded himself that a lack of penicillin can cause death by starvation? Alas, we will never know.

  30. Athywren says

    I wonder how the now defunct RuariJM has persuaded himself that a lack of penicillin can cause death by starvation?

    You don’t eat penicillin?
    You have no idea what you’re missing out on.

  31. carlie says

    Comments 5,9 and 11.
    Why do apologists think that because organizations other than the catholic church do bad things,that somehow gets the catholic church off the hook?

    Exactly. How well does that work as a defense? “Yes, your honor, I murdered that person, but other people have murdered too so you should let me go free!”

    Why do bigots believe so firmly that convenient scapegoats carry more responsibility than reality can justify?

    Please read this very slowly. It’s not a scapegoat to blame the organization that actually carried out atrocities for doing so.

    And you cannot use social norms of the time to excuse their decisions – not when they claim to be the main moral arbiters and that they get their ethics directly from God. One would expect them to act differently than social norms dictate. Remember the verse “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds”?

  32. says

    #44:

    Well, it was meant to be ‘anymore’. Referring to increasing use of astroturfing online by professional PR types. But I guess it does kinda work either way.

    I think the moral of the story anyway is I probably shouldn’t even post this part of the day. Always a bit hairy

  33. tiko says

    @45 Carlie

    I too thought of the defence example you gave. I’ve heard it used so many times and it makes absolutely no sense.

  34. says

    Ooh, “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” – I’m not familiar with that; that’s good.

    I am however familiar with Bertrand Russell’s grandmothers favorite, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” Also good.

  35. unity says

    @AJ #39

    Aside from the people at the very top who co-ordinate this nonsense, the rest are primarily volunteer zealots.

    The lead apologist on this one, whose blog post Ophelia dismantles in the o/p also does a nice in line turning on BBC’s “The Big Question” – which if you’ve never come across it is a Sunday morning god slot religious discussion show that’s invariable as dreadful as it sounds; last week’s topic was ‘Is there life after death’ and featured a women who claims to be an animal psychic – and not bothering to disclose her affiliation with Catholic Voices.

    As for Ruari, without completely doxxing the guy he actually appears to be a freelance journalist, if you can credit such a thing.

    Come to think of, given some of the people who get copious amounts of media time over your side of the big pond, you probably can credit that quite easily.

  36. carbonfox says

    I’ve never thought about how offensive the term “illegitimate” children is. Shit like that — the thinking that makes it possible to declare a human being’s existence is “illegitimate” — is part of what paved the way for crimes like this.

  37. carlie says

    I was going by memory – once upon a time I had to memorize a lot of verses.

    It’s from Romans 12:1-2, which is a passage that is part of the “Romans Road to Salvation”*:

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

    2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    Of course, my Catholic friends always thought it was strange that anyone would bother to read the Bible themselves rather than just listen to the priest and learn the catechism they were supposed to. Maybe the Irish Sisters hadn’t read that part.

    *One of the final nails in the coffin of my Christianity was something a pastor said in church about those salvation spiels I learned by heart. The ABCs of salvation, the Romans Road, etc. What he said was that they were useful because “if you just read the Bible straight through, it wouldn’t make as much sense and you might not understand what salvation was and how to get it.” And right then, finally, after far too long, it occurred to me that any God worth his salt wouldn’t take the most important message he had to send and hide it scattered through the text, so that people would need to cobble together verses from different chapters and different books and even different testaments to tell the story of salvation. That, in fact, putting random passages together like that was probably NOT the right way to interpret any text.

  38. says

    I am however familiar with Bertrand Russell’s grandmothers favorite, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.”

    I hadn’t heard that one before, but I like it. A lot. Which grandmother?

  39. says

    #48/Opheila:

    Aw shucks. (Shuffles feet.)

    … but it’s also a practical thing. When the corrections begin to outweigh the original post, I just dunno.

    I’ve got this whole not-very-alert period in my day, I find. It goes from somewhere mid-afternoon to early evening. It doesn’t seem to be getting any longer, but deeper, just possibly. And I’ve never got along very well with virtual keyboards figuring they can guess what you mean in general.

    (Hell, half the time I don’t know, though I guess this doesn’t rule out the possibility software could somehow do better.)

    Unity/#50:

    I regrettably can very much credit such a thing.

    I wonder what sorts of qualifications one needs to get airtime like that. I’m suddenly toying with some Randi/Carlos-ish confidence stunt, just to plumb the depths of this question…

    … except that: I’m afraid I’m not even sure I could find the range. Seriously, I would have introduced ‘I can talk to people’s dead pets’ as the final act, the ‘oh, let’s just see if we get away with it’, thing, after you’d already gone through stuff a smidge less audacious/at least a little more commonly done… like, I dunno, claiming gods recommend policy on NRTs through me…

    So, okay, this is a cute idea. It probably proves nothing we don’t already know, just provides a little entertainment. Still, suddenly the challenge appeals to me. Now we have to top ‘I can talk to dead pets’…

    Oh, and actually, I probably just don’t watch enough broadcast media anymore, and that’s why not, but, actually, I haven’t seen or heard anything quite that hopeless on the CBC. We do have this kinda obnoxious regular interviewer personality type who drops generally slimy aspersions on excessively vocal unbelivers at the drop of a hat, and there’s this sorta ‘spiritual’ thing called Tapestry that turns up on the weekends regularly, but so much as I’ve ever listened it seems a lot of fuzzy unsubstantiated belief is good for you and wind chimes stuff…

    Back to our challenge: can we get on the BBC claiming to… umm… I dunno…

    Can we get on the BBC claiming we can sense from people’s auras whether they’ve cheated on their taxes?

    (/Okay. Fine. Needs work. Leave it with me.)

  40. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Have you compared mortality rates in Scotland and N Ireland with that of the Republic? And other countries in Europe?

    Ruari: you should have asked Caroline Farrow that question. Her blog defending the sisters of the Bon Secours and quoted in the OP compared English and Irish infant death rates. It would be interesting to compare death rates within institutions supposedly dedicated only to the benefit of children too.
    She was also the person who spoke of “preventable diseases easily treated with antibiotics”- which- as you point out- weren’t available then. There were other ways of avoiding disease though: most notably strict and obsessive concern with cleanliness and nutrition. That required a lot of work and was a measure of the effort carers made for their charges and so of the concern they showed for them. The different levels of health and death rates of children in different categories in the same institutions shows that the nuns who ran those institutions had different levels of concern for those children.
    Bastard children were stigmatised in the wider society and had higher death rates. That is why institutions which specialised in raising and educating them were established. The fact that the sisters of Bon Secours and the Irish roman catholic church did not allow their supposed recognition of the equality of every soul to overpower their personal and social prejudices meant they did not fulfil the duty and rights they claimed with these children.

  41. says

    Wow, Ruari acts as if the public opinion on children born out of wedlock were something that came out of nothing, that people made up independently of the catholic teaching on those matters. As if the RCC didn’t have the RoI firmly in its grip. As is Savita Halapavanar didn’t die after being told that it was a christian country she was in (therefore no abortion for you). Just coincidences…

  42. says

    Do I need to point out that the anti-Catholic hysteria of the correspondents above rivals anything that was seen at the time of the mobs of the Gordon Riots?

    Ruari is equating vocal criticism with RIOTING, and he expects us to take him seriously? This is no better than the “taxing the rich = death camps!” rhetoric that we hear from crybaby millionaires.

    Ireland can, of course, blame the Catholic Church for its nastiness and failures but how would that then explain pretty much exactly the same attitudes in England, which expelled and outlawed the Catholic Church 400 years earlier?

    If the best defense you can offer for your church is “we’re no worse than the others,” then what good is your church? Isn’t a church, and a religion, supposed to lead people to a better state?

    It’s convenient to identify a scapegoat and avoid responsibility.

    …says the guy who screams about “bigotry” every time he hears any criticism of his church.

    Ruari flushed his credibility down the toilet with the first sentence of his first comment here. Is efficiency a Christian virtue?

  43. dmcclean says

    @45:

    And you cannot use social norms of the time to excuse their decisions – not when they claim to be the main moral arbiters and that they get their ethics directly from God.

    Actually, I think you can use that this — not excuses, but — mitigates the awfulness of their decisions somewhat. Their avowal of access to revealed moral knowledge isn’t relevant to whether one can make such a claim. What is relevant is whether the claimant believes that they had access to revealed moral knowledge; you can’t simultaneously claim that the someone has/had ethics from God and that that person should have reduced accountability for reasons that might make some sense when applied to us mere benighted mortals.

    I share your implicit suspicion that RuariJM believes as such, but as xe never said and appears unlikely to return we may never know.

    I also think there are other reasons in this particular instance (namely, the church’s outsized influence on what “the social norms of the time” were at the time and place in question) why such a defense is unlikely to have much if any merit here.

  44. Sili says

    Could you check the IP of the Catholic apologist? It is a rather convenient attempt at astroturfing.

  45. says

    Check what aspect of which apologist’s IP, Sili? You mean Heather’s to see if it’s Ruari’s? It’s not. That doesn’t surprise me – I always get Catholic apologists who sound very like each other when I talk about things like this. There’s a party line, and they recite it. But maybe that’s not what you meant.

  46. Sili says

    I meant to see if Ruari was from Ireland or more specifically from one of these institutions trying to defend the RCC.

  47. says

    Sally @ 53, I had a memory it was taken verbatim from scripture. Google tells me it’s from Exodus 23:2. As for Bertrand Russell’s grandmother, I think she made a good choice given that usually Biblical morality is uselessly obvious or bizarrely perverse. ;)

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