Catholic Church in Ireland won’t contribute to the victims of Magdalene laundries.

From 1765 all the way up to 1996 the Catholic Church in Ireland kept women suspected of being sexually active outside of wedlock prisoner, using them as slave labor (I blogged a documentary about it here).  These institutions were known as the Magdalene laundries or Magdalene asylums.  The Irish government has accepted its complicity with the the asylums from 1922-1996.

Ireland has admitted some responsibility for workhouses run by Catholic nuns that once kept thousands of women and teenage girls against their will in unpaid, forced labor.

The apology comes after an expert panel found that Ireland should be legally responsible for the defunct Magdalene Laundries because authorities committed about one-quarter of the 10,012 women to the workhouses from 1922 to 1996, often in response to school truancy or homelessness.

“To those residents who went through the Magdalene Laundries in a variety of ways, 26 percent of the time from state involvement, I am sorry for those people that they lived in that kind of environment,” said Prime Minister Enda Kenny on behalf of the Irish government, according to Reuters.

As a result, the present Irish government has announced its intention to provide compensation to the survivors.

The Catholic Church, however, will not be contributing so much as a penny.

The Mercy Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity, and the Good Shepherd Sisters have told the Minister for Justice they will not pay into the scheme, which could cost up to €58m.

It is believed the orders will assist in the assembly of records ,and looking after former residents who remain in their care.

Ain’t that sweet?  The groups that used the women as slave labor are willing to look after them to make things right.  How sweet…and inexpensive.

Morality is an empty concept absent the weight of conscience, and it’s clear the Catholic Church’s conscience weighs less than helium.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Jack Carlson

    It must be nice to be such a wealthy and politically powerful institution that you can afford to ignore public perceptions and behave in ways that totally contradict the image you present to the world.

    • Zinc Avenger

      It helps if you can terrify your followers with threats of Hell if they dare to ever notice that you’re not the paragon of goodness you portray yourself to be.

    • John Alexander Harman

      Not to mention flagrantly violate civil and criminal laws and, in the vast majority of cases, suffer no consequences for doing so.

  • smrnda

    Didn’t the Catholic church actually make $$ of these laundries? If you make money through an illegal activity, in the States (to my knowledge) that money can be taken from you. Any idea (JT or anyone?) on how this works in Ireland?

    • Michael W Busch

      If this situation were happening in the US, you could charge the Church as party to a criminal conspiracy under RICO ( ), as has been done in some of the sexual abuse cases. Canada and Australia have laws that provide for similar prosecution.

      But I can’t speak to Ireland either.

    • Feminerd

      Yes. The reason for the decline of the laundries was the invention of the home washer/dryer, not any sort of moral awakening that slavery was wrong.

  • baal

    1996. I was born in the 70s. Functionally slave labor. By the RCC with back up from a modern western democracy. It’s hard for me to conceive of it.

    • Feminerd

      Sinead O’Connor spent time in a laundry. There’s a reason she hates the RCC with a fiery, burning passion.

      • Olive Markus

        I didn’t realize that! She has every right to hate them.

        • CottonBlimp

          She does, but most Americans in the 90s didn’t think she DID have the right to hate the people who enslaved and tortured her. It’s really depressing.

  • Ryan Hite

    Wow…. And people say that religion is good??? The Catholic Church proves itself to be more evil by the day.

  • Lurker111

    I was going to add my voice to the disgust against the RCC, but I’ve done it all before and it has become tiring. Now, whenever I see a priest, I just look at him as if I were looking at a parasite under the microscope. And, I think, some of them do sense this. And walk away, gingerly.