Suffer little children

The terrible way that the nuns in the Catholic church treated unwed mothers and their children in Ireland has been documented over and over again, but new horrors keep emerging. The latest is the report in the Washington Post about the discovery of the remains of nearly 800 children found in a massive septic tank at the back of a home run by nuns. These children are supposed to have died between 1925 and 1961.

According to documents [local historian Catherine] Corless provided the Irish Mail on Sunday, malnutrition and neglect killed many of the children, while others died of measles, convulsions, TB, gastroenteritis and pneumonia. Infant mortality at the Home was staggeringly high.

“If you look at the records, babies were dying two a week, but I’m still trying to figure out how they could [put the bodies in a septic tank],” Corless said. “Couldn’t they have afforded baby coffins?”

Special kinds of neglect and abuse were reserved for the Home Babies, as locals call them. Many in surrounding communities remember them. They remember how they were segregated to the fringes of classrooms, and how the local nuns accentuated the differences between them and the others. They remember how, as one local told the Irish Central, they were “usually gone by school age — either adopted or dead.”

According to Irish Central, a 1944 local health board report described the children living at the Home as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” and with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.”

How could anyone be so cruel to children? This kind of atrocity can only be committed by people who think of themselves as so righteous that they do not have any self-doubt and I have to believe that it was religion that gave them such assurance. When you think that god is on your side, nothing is off-limits. The nuns probably thought that the women were terrible sinners and their children inherited the sin and that no fate was too bad for them. Jealousy that the young women had experienced sex that they had denied themselves may also have played a role.

Whatever the reasons, the church has a lot to answer for.


  1. colnago80 says

    Hey, this is the Raping Children Church we’re talking about, the biggest criminal conspiracy in the history of the world. Makes the former USSR look like pretty small beer indeed.

  2. tiko says

    Below is my comment I left on Butterflies and wheels ‘Trying to wriggle out of it’ post.I think it applies here too.

    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.

    Sorry but I can’t get the links to work.

  3. says

    I’m sure it’s not just children. It would surprise me if such acts were perpetrated against other defenseless groups of people (e.g. the mentally disabled).

    When there’s no accountability and no consequences, such things are inevitable. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and those who don’t have (any) power in society can be easily tempted to take and abuse power over others weaker than themselves (e.g. those nuns over children, larger prisoners over weaker prisoners, kapos over other jews in the death camps).

  4. Mobius says

    The idea of original sin is one of the worst in Christianity (IMHO) and is very prevalent in Catholicism. It says we all have inherited the sin of Adam and Eve and are therefore deserving, from birth, of hellfire. One could see why, therefore, the nuns would think the children of “wayward” women would inherit the sins for their mothers.

    This is, in my opinion, a vile position to take. So very negative. It focuses on children as being potential monsters rather than potential saints (in a non-religious sense). It dehumanizes people, both its victims and its perpetrators. Humanism is a positive philosophy that strives to make all of us realize the humanity of all other people.

  5. Del says

    My father was born in England but when he was still only very young, in 1920s was sent to live with his Irish grandmother who was a very strict catholic and extremely cruel and intolerant with him. He only told me many, many years later of how much he had suffered and it explained so much to me as he was always so afraid of showing love to anyone, including us, his children. His trust and ability to show love was taken from him by that woman.

    Now I read about these babies being found, or little ones, anyway, and I am not so surprised. I think an inquest should be held and all those accountable brought before the courts and the public of Ireland, not only to face their punishment, if they are found guilty, but also to try to expunge the terrible atrocities that were carried out in the name of religion and allow you all to accept what happened and move on into the future. I think these memories hold you all back, whether you deny it all or accept that it all happened and it needs to be brought out into the open.

    I read somewhere that you should be looking also at a society that condoned that treatment as well in the early 1900s and carrying on until almost the middle of the century. I know that there were also very loving families there but yet so many of the opposite variety, too.

    May those hundreds of babies rest in peace!

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