Horrifying Report from Ireland Demonstrates Human Toll of Enabling Institutional Abuse
A horrifying report from one of the world’s most Catholic nations is the latest in a series of government-commissioned investigations that demonstrates yet again the Church’s propensity for committing terrible abuses and then working to cover them up. We hope that this shocking report will spur other nations, including the US, into using the full powers of their government to investigate cases of wrongdoing within their own borders. We need to lay bare the truths that have long been hidden from the public.
This newly-released report demonstrates that the abuse scandal within the Catholic Church goes beyond the serial sexual abuse of children. This investigation, which studied 18 “Mother and Baby homes,” confirms that, in essence, young unwed mothers were enslaved, berated, tortured and shamed, and many of their children lost to neglect or even outright murder. These homes were managed by institutions of the Catholic Church in concert with the national government and demonstrate the depravity of officials who desire control over women and their bodies.
Our hearts ache for the dead, around 9,000 souls, and the broken families that were left in the wake of these terrible decisions by the Church and the Irish government. We hope that this report will bring about new understanding of the depth of abuse and lead to lasting change in how parishioners and the public interact with the institutional Catholic Church.
Ireland is reckoning yet again with a nearly unimaginable cruelty borne of arrogance and faux moralism. If "clericalism" is at the heart of the sexual abuse scandal that numbers thousands of perpetrator priests and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of victims, what does one make of these Irish institutions that crushed spirits, souls, and lives?
We stand with the relatives - mothers, children, fathers - of those victimized. We ask now what will Pope Francis do? This is an issue for not only the government of Ireland but also the leader of the Catholic Church, the largest, richest institution in the world. The most concerning matter of this situation is whether similar homes have been employed by the Church in other countries. Pope Francis must be clear on where else these crimes occurred, and whether or not any similar homes are in operation around the world.
It is difficult to understand such cruelty, in this context or any other. The Catholic Church has much reckoning to do with the pain it has caused these families in Ireland. Their next immediate step must be to ensure that other women and children are not being victimized in similar ways in other places.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)