Dead babies and children in Tuam

Investigators have discovered the remains of hundreds of foetuses, babies and young children at the site of a care home for unmarried mothers and their children run by the Catholic Church until 1961 in the town of Tuam in Ireland. Until as recently as the 1990s, unmarried pregnant women were often sent to such homes where they often had to carry out forced labour. Child mortality rates at such institutions were disproportionately high, according to media reports. How should the Church and society react?

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The Irish Independent (IE) /

Church and state must shoulder responsibility

The Church must do more than just voice schock, the Irish Independent rails, reminding readers of the Church's poor track record regarding payment of compensation in cases of child abuse in Church institutions:

“The orders put forward various reasons, including the economic downturn, which led to fluctuations in value. Yet the gap between pledges and the sums realised raises major questions about the intent of the orders to keep their side of the agreement, which has spared them a string of expensive court cases and payouts. The Comptroller urges the Department of Education and Skills to pursue the religious orders. The department says property transfers are being actively pursued. But that is civil service language and fails to set a target or timeline. The obligation rests with the religious orders and officials to ensure justice is done to survivors and also the taxpayer.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Irish must look in the mirror

Those who hold the Church solely responsible for these crimes tend to overlook the people who bear responsibility as perpetrators and accessories, the Irish Examiner comments:

“The wrongdoing of the kind witnessed in Tuam was also aided and abetted by the conduct and indeed silence of Irish people. What should not get lost in the narrative is that this abuse and neglect was committed by Irish citizens upon Irish citizens, and was, in turn, facilitated and tolerated by Irish citizens. Though it is easy to take the high moral ground that hindsight affords, the deafening silence of the Irish public was striking. ... There are many lessons for us in this shameful history, lessons that should jerk us out of any sense of complacency or smugness about our own progressiveness. The dangers of dehumanisation remain steadfastly apparent.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Not really a shock at this stage

The widespread horror can only be fake, The Guardian criticises:

“We know too much about the Catholic church's abuse of women and children to be shocked by Tuam. A mass grave full of the children of unmarried mothers is an embarrassing landmark when the state is still paying the Church to run its schools and hospitals. Hundreds of dead babies are not an asset to those invested in the myth of an abortion-free Ireland; they inconveniently suggest that Catholic Ireland always had abortions, just very late-term ones, administered slowly by nuns after the children were already born. As Ireland gears up for a probable referendum on abortion rights as well as a strategically planned visit from the pope, it may be time to stop acting as though the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church are news to us.”