Pro-Family Christians Support Child Kidnapping, Continued

I never thought I’d say this, but I think the Catholic church is actually relieved to be dealing with a scandal that, for once, doesn’t involve priests raping children with the protection of their higher-ups. How else to explain their abject contrition over the discovery that, in Australia, they abducted tens of thousands of children born to unwed mothers in Catholic hospitals and gave them up for adoption without consent?

Australia’s Roman Catholic Church has issued an apology for its role in the forced adoptions of babies from unmarried mothers during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, a practise that has been described as a “national disgrace”.

It is estimated that more than 150,000 young women across Australia had their children taken away at birth without their consent, often never to be seen again.

Women subjected to forced adoptions in Catholic-run hospitals have described being shackled and drugged during labour and prevented from seeing their children being born or holding them afterwards.

…”We acknowledge the pain of separation and loss felt then and felt now by the mothers, fathers, children, families and others involved in the practices of the time,” the apology said.

“For this pain we are genuinely sorry.”

Like the Magdalene laundries of Ireland, this horror had its roots in Christianity’s wicked theology of original sin and human depravity. Doubtless, young unwed mothers were assumed to be sinful, immoral, the “wrong” kind of people; and of course, in the church’s eyes, that meant they had no human rights and could be treated like slaves.

What’s remarkable is that this practice continued even after society as a whole had become more enlightened. The article mentions that, by this time, Australia offered state-paid benefits to single parents in recognition of the fact that there’s more than one kind of family. But even after the country as a whole had recognized that these less-conventional family relationships deserved protection and support, the Catholic church continued to act like a medieval dictatorship, treating women and children as if it was entitled to decide their fates with or without their consent, and splitting up mothers from their babies in the interests of forcing them into the “right” kind of family.

Now that the truth has come to light, the church’s tattered moral standing has taken another blow. I said earlier that they were contrite, but maybe I spoke too soon. After all, they’re still displaying their usual sense of entitled superiority, acting as if others should bear the burden of compensating the victims of the wrongs they committed:

As well as issuing an apology, the Catholic Church has called on the government [emphasis added] to establish “a fund for remedying established wrongs” and a national programme to help mothers and children who were harmed by the forced separations.

Notably absent from the church’s apology is any offer to help identify the people who organized and participated in this act of mass child kidnapping so that they can be prosecuted. Given the time involved, many of them are probably dead by now, but it’s an avenue that should at least be pursued. As with the child rape scandal, it appears that the Catholic authorities are willing to make a symbolic show of apology only as long as no actual punishment follows for any of their wrongdoing.

* * *

In other news, there’s this cheering story wondering whether the Vatican’s relations with Ireland have been permanently damaged. In the wake of the Cloyne report, public anger against the church is at a high-water mark, with some going so far as to hope that the church will follow the News of the World’s example and shut down permanently. And the Pope isn’t helping, with a stiffnecked response that can best be summarized as “How dare you peasants act so ungrateful after all we’ve done for you”.

Even when the facts of the situation would seem to dictate sackcloth and ashes, the church continues to take the path of defiance, acting as if it’s not subject to the laws of the nations in which it resides. Granted, opinions change so slowly inside the Vatican, they may not have realized that this is in fact no longer the case. But, I have to say, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the Irish government and people jolt them into the present!

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Jeff

    The only thing sweeter than the termination of the Catholic Church – and the release of its assets to the billions who could benefit from them – would be for Ratzinger to be remembered by history as the man who killed it.

    Of course, the diehard conservative Catholic drones, who refuse to see anything wrong with their precious “Mother Church”, are still going around the internet with their cries of “Catholic bashing” and “anti-Catholic bias”. God, I cannot stand enablers.

    Unfortunately, the Catholic Church, the Evangelicals and the tobacco companies have been busy in recent years consolidating their hold on the Third World – so it’s likely that none of them are going anywhere any time soon.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Asking the government to set up a fund to pay for the sins of the Church — typical Catholic strategy.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Jeff,

    That’s something that has always irked me. No nation-state, past or present, has been or is the imperialistic colonizing force that is the Catholic Church (and organized religion in general).

    Why is it ok for the Catholic Church to colonize other peoples and other lands?

    Remember too, that the Catholic Church acts as a nation-state in the form of the Holy See, based upon its territory of the Vatican City-State (which is a joke). And, that the Catholic Church continues to be in the habit of forcing less powerful nation-states to sign treaties in which the less powerful nation-states bind themselves under international law, but the Holy See does not (because they cannot be subject to secular, civic law, blah, blah, blah).

    Talk about having your cake and eating it too. Marie Antoinette would be proud.

    Nation-states in the developed world need to do their part and cease all diplomatic relations with the sad parody of a nation-state that is the Holy See.

    The UN also needs to stop recognizing the Catholic Church as having international legal personality.

    We don’t recognize any other religion as having international legal personality.

  • KShep

    Nice post. I swear I’ve heard this story before, though, but it was the Salvation Army who ran the clinics and forced girls to give up their babies. Disgusting.

  • Fargus

    I can’t wait for Verbose Stoic to come in and tell us why it would be wrong for the government to hold the Church to account for crimes like this.

  • Charles Black

    Just when I thought the Catholic Church’s rap sheet of crimes including genocide couldn’t get any longer, then this comes along.
    Then again the more scandals like this occur to the Catholic Church the sooner humanity will be rid of it.

  • Brock

    No one would be happier than I to see the Infamy come crashing down. But as I think I have noted before here, when a giant falls, it has a long fall. As Jeff notes, they have a firm grip on the Third World, and plenty of apologists, here and abroad.

  • http://journal.nearbennett.com Rick

    I’m surprised that the apology didn’t include a statement about how this was caused by the culture of the times… Therefore you can’t blame them for moral failings 30-40 years later.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    As with the child rape scandal, it appears that the Catholic authorities are willing to make a symbolic show of apology only as long as no actual punishment follows for any of their wrongdoing.

    I’m sure someone said some Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s. What more do you want?

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    I’m sure someone said some Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s. What more do you want?

    Absolutely, absolution!
    The farce of the confessional is that no matter what you’ve done, you’re forgiven by God and the church. Whilst catholics would argue that true contrition and a resolve not to repeat the sin is expected, it’s not mandatory. I wonder how many pedophile priests ‘fessed up in the confessional secure in the knowledge that the priest could not divulge the sin to anyone else.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com (Ani) Sharmin

    This is the church that goes around telling other people about family values? Really? This is so sad. I feel so bad for the parents who had their kids taken away.

    Re: The Church being a nation state, etc.
    Why does the Roman Catholic Church get the benefits of being a nation state, but not of the responsibilities? So, it gets to have power, but then its leaders can’t be held accountable?

    @Steve Bowen (#10):

    I wonder how many pedophile priests ‘fessed up in the confessional secure in the knowledge that the priest could not divulge the sin to anyone else.

    This very thought disturbed me when reading about the sex abuse scandal.

  • karen

    Good grief, I cannot even begin to imagine the emotional and physical suffering of a pregnant woman shackled and drugged, only to wake up to the horror of her baby vanished and no way to retrieve it.

    That’s just about as sick a thing I’ve ever heard perpetrated on women.

    There is a physical ache for an infant and an emotional bond that cannot be overstated. Of course if a woman is in a position to offer a baby up for adoption, it’s difficult enough but at least she makes the choice and lives with the knowledge that she did the right thing for both at the time.

    But to have a baby taken away without your consent!? Argh. Disgusting.

    I believe the Australian government forcibly sent aboriginal children to live with white, Christian families around the same time frame. There must be such a well of suffering in that country, I can’t imagine.

  • Jeff

    The Irish PM recently spoke in favor of abolishing the “seal of the confessional” in cases of sexual abuse of minors.

    I’d LOVE to see this happen, worldwide (and let it begin in a country that’s historically been one of its strongholds), for two reasons – 1) It would serve to protect children; 2) It might make actual steam come out of Bill Donoghue’s ears.

  • KShep

    ^^^If steam came out of Donohue’s ears, that would indicate the presence of something in his cranium. Can’t see that happening.

  • http://indiscriminatedust.blogspot.com Philboyd

    I believe the Australian government forcibly sent aboriginal children to live with white, Christian families around the same time frame. There must be such a well of suffering in that country, I can’t imagine.

    In Australia we call that the ‘stolen generation’, and generally everyone recognizes what a terrible, terrible thing it was. However, there’s the usual few popular right-wing pundits who claim that it wasn’t so bad – or even that it never happened. And they have the gall to act offended when someone compares them to Holocaust-deniers.

  • http://puceronie.org/ Julie

    This reminds me of the Duplessis Orphans (the article is marked as disputed, but its contents are roughly the same as the well cited French-language article).

  • Jormungundr

    I would never have imagined that this sort of thing happened just a few decades ago.
    Both the Australian version and the Duplessis Orphans version is almost beyond belief.
    Some of the people who did this must still be alive. One hopes they would all die in a prison.

    believe the Australian government forcibly sent aboriginal children to live with white, Christian families around the same time frame.

    I was told that those were orphans sent for legitimate adoption or half-white kids that aboriginals liked to kill for being racially impure.

  • Eric

    The shocking possibility we must consider given the time period these might have been “Twilight Sleep” births. Twilight sleep doesn’t so much reduce pain as erase memory. Twilight Sleep was common from the late 40s to the late 60s. Doctors were just too creeped out about to continue. Mothers reported trauma free birth, but doctors and nurses saw the pain that was not remembered.

    These women may have given birth in a scopolamine trip that erased their memories. They might still have been memory impaired when they signd the papers.

    Scopolamine is easily refined from natural sources. There are few laws against doing this. The Scopolamine trip is thought to be so disturbing that doing it, the trip is its own punishment.

  • http://daylightatheism.org J. James

    Sweet Zombie Jesus on a stick, WHAT!? They STEAL BABIES NOW!!? Holy shit, you’ve gotta be kidding me! They’re evil, but this is cartoon-villain-grade evil!

    I never thought that the Catholic Church could make itself lose membership EVEN FASTER THAN IT ALREADY HAS. Never underestimate their stupidity, I suppose. If this and the protection of child rapists isn’t enough to pound the final stake into the black heart of Catholicism, then I shudder at the thought of what WILL.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    These women may have given birth in a scopolamine trip that erased their memories. They might still have been memory impaired when they signd the papers.

    That’s certainly plausible, Eric. Something else we should consider is that every other Catholic scandal we’ve heard about so far hasn’t been confined to just one country. If they did this in Australia, they may well have done it in other places as well. I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    I don’t get it, I really don’t. Why is everyone so shocked and surprised that the Church would offer only a back-handed apology and then ask for money? A few years before he died, Pope John Paul II went to Mexico to, among other things, show the devout population there how he lives off their tithes. One of his missions was to finally make a statement regarding the then-burgeoning child-rape crisis within the Church. His speech on that topic, when boiled down to its essentials, basically apologized for the Church suffering such a terrible setback. There were many outraged voices even back then. So, really, why were people expecting anything different–or better–now?


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