A horrific crime was committed by the Catholic Church at Tuam, Ireland. Single mothers and their babies were neglected and died at the hands of a “pro-life” religious cult, ignored, and the deaths hidden away, until the remains of about 800 dead were unearthed. They’d been dumped in a septic tank. That is apparently what Catholics consider death with dignity.
So, you’ve found a mass grave…what do you do next? In the case of Irish authorities, you convene a public meeting and ask the locals if it’s OK if they just ignore all those corpses, maybe put up a nice little plaque or a stone over them, and just move on. It turns out the public wasn’t too happy about the idea of sweeping dead bodies under a discreet rug.
The meeting was supposed to gauge opinion on what to do with the site: (a) leave everything as it is but erect a memorial to tell the world how much we care; or (b) fully excavate the mass grave, exhume and identify the remains, and return the lost loved ones to their grieving families and enable them to rest in peace after a formal and appropriate burial.
Spoiler alert — I was rooting for option (b).
Let’s cut to the chase. What we are dealing with here is a mass grave, one containing the remains of abused persons, people discarded as second-class citizens, coercively separated from their families, born in captivity, and denigrated with the zeal that only religious sanctimony and god-fearing hubris can muster.
It seems simply unconscionable that any humane society would respond to the revelation that nearly 800 babies have been interred in an unmarked grave — a septic tank, no less — and say, ‘Well…let’s just leave them there.’
And yet that is what was being proposed for Tuam.
I agree with option (b), with the addition that a good forensic team be commissioned to identify as many of the dead as possible, along with tracing the paper trail to determine the details of who was responsible and who was lost at Tuam, and the bill, no matter what the cost, should be paid by the Catholic Church. And then they can do (a) and put up a memorial that not only acknowledges the victims but clearly assigns all blame to the Catholic Church for the atrocity.