A reader cries out

A reader cries out June 5, 2014

“What do we say about the 800 dead children buried in a septic tank in Tuam, Ireland–by nuns?

I think “Horrible and shameful” and “Kyrie Eleison” is a perfectly appropriate response. They were human beings and deserved Christian burial, not this.

As far as I can piece together from the story, it is an indictment of a culture and a time when a particular view of sexual purity was vastly more important than human life and dignity. The idea (behind the whole culture and with acquiescence and support from the Church) was to punish the “fallen woman” and then to leave the child in the “care” of nuns when mom finally left her indentured servitude to find some kind of life. I would be interested in hearing stories from children who survived the place on what that care consisted of. As to the children who died, it does not appear murder was involved (thanks be to God), and I don’t know what the childhood mortality was in the rest of Ireland at the time. It was a poor country with lousy healthcare under, recovering from being ground under the English boot, so a high infant mortality rate–and an even higher one for those at the bottom of the social ladder, would not surprise me a bit.

But everything you need to know about the attitude toward the dignity of those children (and the very high likelihood of neglect and abuse when they were alive) is told you by their burial place. One hopes they received the sacrament of baptism at least. And it is a credit to the Irish that when the grave was discovered, they treated it as a graveyard and gave them their dignity at long last.

But this is one more reason that the Irish Church is in dire trouble, and one more wound on the Body of Christ. Kyrie Eleison is the only reply to it, along with prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

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