Fri 1st Aug 2014 | Last updated: Fri 1st Aug 2014 at 10:22am

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

The Magdalene laundries were used as reformatories where girls were sent without due process. But they were not brutal: anti-Catholics have lied about them

The laundries were tough places, undoubtedly. But there was no sexual abuse and no physical punishment

By on Monday, 25 February 2013

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny (Photo: PA)

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny (Photo: PA)

I usually maintain a general scepticism about the BBC’s reporting of stories involving the Catholic Church, but I have to admit that I missed out on this one, maybe because it has to do with Ireland, and because there have been so many true Irish stories one really didn’t want to contemplate. The saga of the Magdalene laundries has been one I just didn’t want to think about; here we go again, I thought: now, it’s Irish nuns. And last week, the BBC reported (as did everyone else) that another enemy of the Church, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has formally apologised on behalf of the state for its role in the story.

Some 10,000 women and girls, reported the BBC, were made to do unpaid manual labour in laundries run by Catholic nuns in Ireland between 1922 and 1996. More than a quarter of those who spent time in the laundries had been sent there by the Irish state.

Mr Kenny apologised to all the women affected.

He said their experiences had cast a “long shadow” over Irish life and that it had been “humbling and inspiring” to meet them. “For 90 years Ireland subjected these women, and their experience, to a profound indifference,” he said. “By any standards it was a cruel and pitiless Ireland, distinctly lacking in mercy”.

Cruel and pitiless: that was the story; and most cruel and pitiless of all were allegedly the Irish sisters who presided over the women’s incarceration. The popular perception of the story of the Magdalen laundries has been a growing certainty which in the end led, politically, to the Taioseach’s apology (itself an implied attack on the Church) and it has been formed over the past 20 years by a series of plays and movies about what went on in the laundries. None had greater impact than the 2002 film The Magdalene Sisters, which won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. It is about four teenage girls committed to a laundry where they experience or witness routine physical and sexual abuse by nuns and a priest. It depicts the laundries as profitable, money-making rackets, and shows the women subjected to various indignities including head-shaving.

But how true was all that? According to the Irish Times, a striking feature of the government report by Senator McAleese is the number of women recorded as speaking positively about the sisters, women who absolutely rejected allegations of physical abuse. Most agreed that there was what was termed “psychological abuse”: most “described verbal abuse and being the victim of unkind or hurtful taunting and belittling comments. Even those who said that some Sisters were kind to them reported verbal cruelty as occurring during their time in the Magdalene Laundries”. The real question about these places is whether they should have existed in the first place in the way that they did, and whether the women sent there understood why. Why was their freedom taken from them? Often they were never told, and for that, the State is directly responsible (usually the sisters didn’t know either). But these were not, as is widely believed, brutal institutions.

I quote directly from the government report by Senator Martin McAleese:

“33. A large majority of the women who shared their stories with the Committee said that they had neither experienced nor seen other girls or women suffer physical abuse in the Magdalene Laundries.

“34. In this regard, women who had in their earlier lives been in an industrial or reformatory school drew a clear distinction between their experiences there and in the Magdalene Laundries, stating clearly that the widespread brutality which they had witnessed and been subjected to in industrial and reformatory schools was not a feature of the Magdalene Laundries.

“The following examples and quotations relate to the majority of women who shared their stories with the Committee and who indicated that they had never experienced or seen physical punishment in a Magdalene Laundry:

“One woman summarised her treatment in a Magdalene Laundry by saying ‘I might have been given out to, but I was never beaten’.

- Another woman said about the same Magdalene Laundry ‘I was never beaten and I never seen anyone beaten’.

- Another woman said ‘It has shocked me to read in papers that we were beat and our heads shaved and that we were badly treated by the nuns. As long as I was there, I was not touched myself by any nun and I never saw anyone touched and there was never a finger put on them … Now everything was not rosy in there because we were kept against our will … we worked very hard there … But in saying that we were treated good and well looked after’.”

Fr Tim Finigan described an article by Brendan O’Neill in the Telegraph, the standfirst of which was “Catholic-bashers have embellished the truth about abuse in Catholic institutions. It’s time to put the record straight” (and which pointed me to much of the above) as being “The kind of article Catholics dare not write”. Well, Brendan O’Neill wasn’t writing as a Catholic (though he may well be one); I, however, unavoidably am. So if Fr Tim is correct, I expect I’ll get it in the neck for this one. I’m not saying that the use by the Irish state of the Magdalene laundries as reformatories to which people could be sent without explanation or due process was in any way defensible. And Irish nuns could undoubtedly be tough in those days (my wife has fond memories from her convent school in Swanage, now a holiday hotel, of being called “a bold girl” and having her hand thwacked with a 12-inch ruler). But, says one woman quoted above, there was in the Magdalene laundries no physical punishment that she saw, and though things were “not rosy”, “we were treated good and well looked after”.

Needless to say, none of that was reported by the BBC.

  • Kevin

    One reason Catholics tend to be defensive about stories of abuse within the Church is because they are perceived to be associated with a desire not simply to right the wrongs but to abolish the Church in its entirety.

    This is often contrasted with the treatment of the state, whose abolition is rarely considered to be a solution to similar problems. Thus, while the Australian Parliament apologised in 2009 for the plight of the “Forgotten Australians”, it is not common to read of calls for the destruction of Australia.

  • $20596475

    That sir, is because the article, and not the many decent Catholics who are upset by it,  is hateful.

  • $20596475

    I don’t know anyone who wishes to see the Church abolished. At it’s best it is a great force for good. It is when the worst is denied that people get angry. We need the many good Catholics to rise up and insist on change. That this seems impossible, due to the top down structure, is but one of the many problems. 

  • David Lindsay

    Perhaps I have been wrong in always pronouncing these institutions’ names “Mawdlin” because they were what Oxford and Cambridge must still be like?

  • liquafruta

    That makes it all right then. They didn’t torture them, just used them as slave labour. 

  • liquafruta

    If you had been in one you would have known how to pronounce it properly. They were dreadful places. When I was at University in Ireland our laundry was sent to “The Good Shepherd Convent”. If only we had known the degradation and inhuman conditions which operated in them we would never have allowed our laundry to go there. May God forgive us for our ignorance and may He forgive Mr Oddie for trying to defend the indefensible..

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    How you can possibly assert that there was no abuse is beyond me

    How you can conclude that he was asserting any such thing is beyond me.

  • Patrickhowes

    It is the same institutional arrogance that made Bishops hide child abusers and deny for decades that it was a real problem.It is quite sad really.I will be emailing the editor and asking the Bishop to see a written and public apology!It is disgraceful and hurtful to the victims of abuse and as a devout Catholic,it gets the Churcha  bad name.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    You make some good points, but Dr Oddie’s own point still stands, that there seems to be little actual material evidence of any “being force-marched wearing wet bedsheets, lying prone on the floor for hours kissing it, heads shaven as punishment, food withheld as punishment and other forms of degrading and tortuous abuse” …

    And let’s be clear: physical abuse includes being locked in a facility and forced to perform commercial labour for no pay. That’s also slavery.

    I agree — and this is something that the Irish Government, the Irish civil Laws, and the Irish penal justice system were fully responsible for. The collusion of the Magdalen Sisters in this state of affairs is certainly not admirable — but don’t you think that accusing them of their actual failures is quite sufficient ? Why do you think that these massive evidence-free exaggerations (AKA “lies”) are acceptable ?

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    A good example of how to properly address the real issues involved here — thanks !!! (though I don’t agree with you that Dr Oddie and the CH should have kept silent, instead of publishing this article)

  • Patrickhowes

    But surely if it is done in a spirit of purification and renewal,it is good and necessary to expose the evil that went on in God´s name.

  • mally el

    All abuse, whether by Catholic or others, should be exposed and steps taken to ensure that it does not continue. Unfortunately, abuse still continues everywhere. Re. Prevailing condidtions: I grew up at the same time in antother part of the world where similar disciplinary measures were adopted. In a boarding or hostal environment this is how they maintained discipline and we resped the benefits that came from it. Good or bad this is how it was accepted in those days.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    Interesting — though your second link rather questionably claims that one set of stories is true, implying the opposing stories to be fabricated.

    As such, they have no solid basis to complain of poor methodology, because their own methodology is so blatantly flawed — which does not mean that their counterpoints themselves can be just ignored ; quite the opposite.

    Nevertheless, one has heard one too story too many of women having claimed such atrocious abuses later recanting their accusations, and stating that they were straightforwardly encouraged to fabricate their stories of gross physical abuses. This calls into question the overall reliability of all of these survivors’ stories, which would naturally have to be subjected to a proper cross-examination, instead of just accepting them wholesale.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    I do not believe these accounts are all fabrications

    Nor do I.

    The issue though, is as to whether those abuses were isolated cases involving some individual abusers, or whether they were widespread and institutionalised.

    The pattern of facts seems to suggest the former, rather than the latter.

  • greenmoon

     I’m not sure anyone is attacking Catholicism (the faith) or Catholics (followers of that faith). The problem here is that fact that some people in authority feel they have the right to ignore / cover up those abuses because they think that the institution of the Church needs to be protected from the scandal. What those people in the Church need to do is to show love and compassion to those individuals who have been abused.

    I would currently have major difficulties defending my “Church”, but I would never have any difficulty defending my faith.

  • http://jabbapapa.wordpress.com/ Julian Lord

    This is an anachronistic and partial complaint — it is ludicrous to single out the Church for abuses that were very widespread in all educational and correctional institutions throughout the British Isles at the time.

    If you have five individuals guilty of such abuses, two Catholic, two Anglican and one atheist — it is hypocritical to point the finger at the Catholics and the Church *only*.

  • Aonghus O’Kelly

    Mr Oddie,

    Your attempts to unveil a global conspiracy against the Catholic church whilst it’s foundations crumble before our eyes in disgrace or questionable motivations, from it’s hierarchy in Scotland to the recent events in the Vatican, means you not only deny these victims justice, you perpetuate the idea that the Catholic church’s hierarchy and teachers are beyond reproach.This has always been the problem of all power that carries unquestionable influence within any society. There should never be a single human nor organisation, from the leader of a church, a monarch or a head of state, who should ever be ‘beyond reproach’ or the rule of law or held responsible for human rights abuses and called to account at any stage.Why are you still so blinded by your faith, that whilst the truth is documented evidence and obvious, (following decades of cover up’s and collusion by the State and Church), you continue to pedal lies with the illusion of an imagined anti-catholic conspiracy theory wrapped up in journalistic freedom of the press. To defend such crimes against children was never part of any true catholic or Christian teaching I received, nor indeed even morally defensible.In doing so, you prolong the mistreatment these ‘servants of God’ meeted out to thousands of children and perpetuate the crimes that shamed Ireland, the Catholic Church and successive Irish Governments. The parallels to those who attempted to excuse soldiers from heinous war crimes in Nuremberg with the ‘we were just following orders’ reasoning or for the extreme factions of society who despite the evidence, feel they can re-write history, denying the Holocaust, injustices of the British Empire over it’s dominions or numerous other errors of judgement in order to retain power are far to close for comfort.This brutality was not confined to Ireland, Irish Governments or the Catholic church. Yes, the puritanical work house of the Magdalene’s, “work will set you free” ethos or similar control mechanism used by many religious and non-religious organisations with state collusion from the UK, Australia, Canada, the US and Worldwide was widespread. Many of them were not Catholic, however they were still just as cruel and wrong. The problem in Ireland was how long it continued and how those who had a voice, like you, denied the existence of the crime and hence it continued, leaving generations scarred with more recent memories than in many other countries. Most of the World had moved on, but in my youth in Ireland during the 60′s and 70′s, was a climate of unspoken violence. We were still the poor of Europe, economically years behind our closest neighbours. This allowed for the Catholic churches influence on society to go unquestioned for far too long. Only now has our involvement in Europe enabled those who endured this abuse to have legal recourse under European law. The message that would seem more fitting coming from one of the journalistic voices of the Catholic church and hence accountable to it’s readership is how to reconcile the events and the errors of the past with the current enlightened faithful is to admit and condemn the errors of the past and find a way to modernise and move forward.The power you hold as a writer or a journalist requires that you not only seek, but also defend the truth on behalf of your readership and are seen to be impartial whilst fair. Surely, your newspaper has the same responsibility that you lay at the feet of the BBC for examining and reporting the truth, regardless of how difficult that may be for us all to stomach. 

  • Elaine

    Did you read the headline and sub-headline? If so, what does it say ? That is where I draw my conclusion from. Many people will not even read the full article as a journalist he would know this. Whatever is in the headline sets the tone for the article. By all means refute something I’ve said. Challenge it and back it up with fact and I’ll be happy to discuss further

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Even the report into these laundries says there’s no real evidence of bad behaviour at all. 

    The Irish State now hates the Church. Unfaithful Ireland!

  • Seguidora

    This must be one of the most ill-informed, disgraceful article I have read in years. Your ill-informed opinions and assertions must have prolonged the suffering of the unfortunates who had to endure these  institutions through no fault of their own. Shame on you, Oddie!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    It’s accurate. 

  • $20596475

    It seems that the overwhelming viewpoint of responders, Catholic and non Catholic alike, disagree with you. So do I.

  • Peter

    “Your attempts to unveil a global conspiracy against the Catholic church whilst it’s foundations crumble before our eyes in disgrace or questionable motivations, from it’s hierarchy in Scotland to the recent events in the Vatican, means you not only deny these victims justice, you perpetuate the idea that the Catholic church’s hierarchy and teachers are beyond reproach.”

    Let’s get things into perspective.

    The Church is not crumbling; it is booming worldwide.  Seminaries across Asia and Africa are bursting.  The tragedy is that young men are turned away for lack of funds.   Don’t be fooled by an anglocentric perspective.

    Furthermore the ancient doctrines of the Church regarding creation are sound, having been vindicated by a deeper scientific understanding of creation.

    That said, people are people and because they are ordained, it does not make them better people than those who are not. 

    No-one is beyond reproach.  You judge a tree by its fruits.  A priest is worthy to say mass even if he is a bad man.  But a priest is not worthy of respect if he is a bad man.  If a priest is a bad man you should stand up to him, not in a harsh way but in a gentle persistent way, never giving up.

    This is why the Church should never give up identifying and gently rooting out clergy who should never have been ordained, or who need to be corrected.  Offending priests and bishops should spend a year in a monastery to rediscover their direction.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking the Church is just clergy and religious.  They are merely the head.  The body of the Church are the faithful.

  • Peter

    “the son of a Magdalene survivor”
    Despite the rhetoric, your disingenuous mentality slips through.

    In your description above, you are intentionally projecting the image of Nazi concentration and extermination camps where millions died horrific deaths.

    What is your motivation in doing so?

  • mally el

    The point is that these women were not abused physically or sexually. They were abused emotionally because they were victims of their times. Ever heard of child migrants? The governments of several countries were involved in the removal of children from their parents, families and friends and dispatched to other countries.  This was abuse of women and children on a gigantic scale and it does not make news. Very sad!

  • Mike Ward

    I note that you have deleted the two (sourced) testimonies I posted which are (thus far) unchallenged but you have not deleted the similar testimony I (unwittingly) posted which seems to have been duplicitous, I suggest that this behaviour is as disingenuous as the claim that there was “no” physical or sexual abuse.

  • Coombe

    ‘Even the report into these laundries says there’s no real evidence of bad behaviour at all’

    Do you think that keeping women against their will in brutal living conditions as unpaid slave labour constitutes  good behaviour? 

    How do you think they stopped these women from leaving if they wished, by praying for them maybe, or gently asking them nicely if they would like to remain with them for a life of involuntary servitude?

  • Coombe

    These organisations were inherited by the Irish Government on becoming Independent of Britain and recognised as such. In 1922 Ireland gained independence and passed over the running of most state run organisations from schools and hospitals to care homes and Magdalene’s to the representative church of the people. This was the Catholic Church.

    The Church should probably never have been given a role for which they were not prepared, mind you, no one else was either.

    This unbridled power and lack of experience of all concerned may well have contributed to the problems, however, it was one of the countries darkest times with the Army killing it’s own citizens in the bloody street battles that ensued.

  • Rodaylward

    As one who was beaten by Catholic brothers at school, legally as this was the accepted way in most schools in England at the time I will not complain here about such treatment, except to say that it was crude , unpleasant and painful. What appals me is the tone of this article. Women were imprisoned for no good reason – itself a crime against humanity. Even if they were well treated and the evidence seems to be very mixed, this was unacceptable behaviour by church and state. Psychological abuse, which seems to be more acceptable here than physical abuse or even sexual abuse, is still abuse.It might even be torture. Is that OK? Seemingly so. How dare then, Mr Kenny, who I think was not involved in this mess dare to criticise the church by apologising retrospectively for state involvement? This seems a little reminiscent of the big bully crying and whining when caught out. It is time for the church to grow up and take it on the chin. And then sort itself out. Too many scandals, too many people hurt.

  • Coombe

    Yes, if any of the victims still have any faith left after their treatment, I’m sure they will welcome some justice on judgement day, however, for those who understandably lost faith, I’m sure they would prefer some justice now. 

  • Nat_ons

    Rose, heartbreaking as the facts are – and indeed they are terrible to read let alone relate – place her treatment in line with that of other state affirmed ‘charity-run’ industrialist care/ reform homes (in fact, Lord help her, her treatment was better than many).

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-21541801

    This harsh regime was not the creation or even charism of the Magdelen system let alone the Catholic form of it provided by (astonishingly few) religious in Ireland; this harsh regime was what the state required.

    “34. In this regard, women who had in their earlier lives been in an industrial or reformatory school drew a clear distinction between their experiences there and in the Magdalene Laundries, stating clearly that the widespread brutality which they had witnessed and been subjected to in industrial and reformatory schools was not a feature of the Magdalene Laundries.” Senator Martin McAleese: Magdelen Report – Living Conditions.

    This witness, of course, is hard to square with the woeful reality, yet it too is fact, and cannot be dismissed because it does not please us to accept it. And the unwillingness of society at large – in the UK and Ireland, as elsewhere – to act of concerns is also not to be wondered at .. other than in sad reflection (as for social workers, even of the clerical variety, seeming to be devoid of human sympathy – well, simply put, these civil servants still do not always get it right). Today’s Boot Camp forms of Youth Detention and our own Swinging Door orphanages (no longer reliant on charitable funding or workforce, at the moment) must give us a long moment of pause before laying blame at others feet; look at the Bethany Homes and at your aunt’s treatment, then view the abuse regularly meted out in care homes now .. the compare our lack of reaction (or downright support) for short-sharp-shock treatment for troubled children and the social services pussy-footing around families unable to cope (with state funded reports, and promises that lessons have been learned, tripping over themselves on a yearly basis).

    “22. The women who engaged with the Committee were admitted to Magdalen Laundries in a variety of ways. The majority of the women had previously been committed to Industrial or Reformatory Schools. In some of these cases, the women referred to the involvement of the Legion of Mary or the NSPCC (‘cruelty man’).” Senator Martin McAleese: Magdelen Report – Living Conditions.

  • Coombe

    Because, I would ask my conscience where do you stop?
    Which abuse of a person, and in particular, a child’s human right is acceptable and should be denied or excused with a ‘well it wasn’t really as bad as they say’

    Even if this article suggests that it wasn’t as bad as it’s made out, how can we imagine what it’s like;

    -to have your life stolen from you.
    - to work as an imprisoned unpaid slave.
    - for this to be done in the name of God by those who you believe are just.

    Do you suggest that these women were held against their will with kind words, prayers  and a decade of the rosary or maybe the promise of eternal salvation and redemption of their supposed blackened souls, when they had rarely committed any wrong.

    It’s far more likely they were brain washed and lived a life of fear from as they saw it, their captors and the brutal regimes enforced with violence if needed to hold them in these institutions.

    Would all reasoning people not agree that it would be disrespectful to the memory of those murdered by the perpetrators of war crimes, whether in Rwanda, Kosovo, Germany, Russia or anywhere else to deny it ever happened. 

    Why is this any different for the victims of the Magdalene Laundry.

    As a Catholic, it makes me just as angry that Mr. Oddie writes such a salacious piece of tripe in order to increase his coverage as it does that these crimes were carried out and covered up by people I respected and was taught to respect and believe.

    So, if not war crimes and murder, which of the following is an acceptable form of abuse, – the answer is surely none.
    Not violence, torture, psychological, sexual, mental, imprisonment, loss of liberty or the right to an education or most importantly in this context, the right to have your faith in your religion questioned.

    So how dare Mr Oddie, excuse these crimes are deny them. To the victims, it’s a disgraceful insult and he should resign his post.

  • Nat_ons

    The harsh regime of the Boot Camps and their short-sharp-shock treatment of offenders/ misfits/ educationally-deficient souls today cannot be excused by our moral awareness, yet they are more than merely tolerated .. not least by politicians eager to show they are tough on crime and the causes of crime.

    http://www.doc.state.mn.us/facilities/willowriver.htm

    So no, the wilful use of corporal punishment was not morally excusable then – its regularised application was, nonetheless, de rigour and expected to be part of the regime followed (with political approval if not political correctness); the ‘fault’ lies, therefore, in the system not keeping up with (the swings in) the public perception of victimology.

    As for the notion of ‘data protection’, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and the pursuit of ‘due process of the law’ (however flawed this can seem), well, this is not just a Catholic thing it is still the ‘prevailing thing’. What is disliked about lawfully protecting your data and mine by institutions, of allowing the accused to be deemed innocent until judged, and of judging only by due process not media harangue or pressure group must be applied to all in public service .. even charities. And this is what you desire to see ripped up, trodden underfoot, and completely ignored – when it comes to the Catholic Church, and it alone; that, after all, is what you mean in effect by say that it: ‘continues to ignore the worst abuses, until and unless the facts are dragged into the public spotlight by others’; riding roughshod over law (and its abuse) is not a new idea, but tearing down law (especially the difficult ones) is fraught with dangers now as in the past.

    ‘And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?’ Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons; (Act One, scene seven).

  • Coombe

    “Offending priests and bishops should spend a year in a monastery to rediscover their direction” – Really! 
    It would be far more effective for “Offending priests and Bishops to spend the appropriate number of years in a jail to reflect their crime like the rest of society. I’m sure this would help them refocus their minds far quicker and rediscover their direction far sooner!

    Perhaps if the Church had stopped moving them around to avoid prosecution in collusion with the state, far more minds would have been “refocussed” as you put it and the Catholic Church would not be in it’s current crisis! 

    Not sure what the whole ‘creationist’ reference is all about, so I will ignore it as it has no relation to the article.

    In response to the booming seminaries Worldwide across Asia and Africa, although I doubt it, yes all churches will stand more chance to convert an unquestioning flock in less enlightened areas, but have you examined the attendance figures in Ireland lately? 

    That young men are turned away for lack of funds – really!

    Well, you could always ask the Vatican to dip in to help as the Irish Tax payer is currently trying to fund the huge bill the catholic church left it to pay for the victims of it’s abuse. Funny that, we seem to be a bit short to the value of several hundred million, while the church, sells off “our land” and then cuts and runs.
     

  • Nat_ons

    Sadly many well meaning souls (above) propose to do away with data protection law, civil regulation in codes of conduct, and the right to be judged as an innocent until proven guilty – in so far as these relate to the Catholic Church (no other group).

    You see, that is the dilemma; not that the Church ought to be ready to accept responsibility, clearly it does (and more so than any other body whether charity of state-run), but how its public administration and service may be monitored.

    Wilful use of corporal punishment is never acceptable, its regularised and controlled application may be; in fact detention, withdrawal of privileges along with isolation, curfew and restraint are bodily punishments still in use.

  • Acleron

    I too wondered about that because I’ve usually found the CH to be fair about publishing contrarian views. Perhaps a word from one of the editors is in order.

  • http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/ The Catholic Herald

    Apologies – the posts should be published now. They were blocked by our spam filter, which we tightened up recently and which has been blocking quite a few legitimate comments, unfortunately. We are doing our best to sort it out.

  • shieldsheafson

    A significant number of comments on this blog seem to come from someone or several people with no discus history.  All are hostile to the Church.  Has anyone else noticed this?

  • Peter

    “Not sure what the whole ‘creationist’ reference is all about, so I will ignore it as it has no relation to the article.”

    It is central to the article.

    The Church is under attack from every quarter because it is gradually emerging that she has been right all along.  Her ancient doctrines, stubbornly guarded for centuries against opposition from pagans and atheists alike, are turning out to be true.  A deeper understanding of discoveries made last century vindicates the catholic doctrine that the universe had a beginning, began from nothing and is finite.  This is proof that her long-held doctrines are divinely inspired, making the existence of God a reality.

    Against this revelation there is a growing groundswell of rage in the world which marshals every conceivable weapon to viciously  hurl at the Church.  The realisation that God’s existence is no longer a question of faith but also a matter of reason has unleashed a torrent of fury direct from the gates of hell.

    True, humans are pathetic, especially those who hide within the Church to do their dirty deeds.  But the assault against the Church goes far beyond that.   It is a tsunami of hatred that will stop at nothing short of her total and utter destruction.

  • vuvuzela

    I beg your pardon, Peter?! The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

    Yes, the man I spoke to was indeed the was the son of a Magdalene survivor and his mother shared her story with him before she died. I keep his name to myself.

    I am not intentionally projecting the image of Nazi concentration camps. You miss my point completely. In fact, you are WAY OFF.

    Can you imagine a family who would put their daughter into one of these institutions just because she was good looking – yes, GOOD LOOKING? Or a little temperamental/spirited/ill? That was one of the many facts that this man’s mother told him. Sad.

    I heard of children being ‘threatened with the priest’ during their chastisement. I didn’t understand what that was until I found out about the Magdalene Laundries etc. etc. My blood ran very cold indeed.

    All I am asking is that those who took advantage of these women – the posh Dublin hotels etc. etc. etc. – should also be asked to generously contribute to what the Magdalene survivors wish… that they should be paid the money overdue for their work.

    Those women did not deserve such servitude. There is a programme on RTE about prisons – they did commit crimes (robbery, murder, drugs) and were found guilty.

    They get good meals, televisions and education now.

    ’nuff said.

  • Peter

    Even though some of it was undoubtedly bad, I wonder how many billions the Church has saved the Irish taxpayer over the last 50 years by doing its welfare work for free.

  • spanners

    Hmmm,,, another person who has not read the full report.
    Just to put you at ease your use of the term “slave labour” implies a profit motive – the report explicitly says that there was no profit motive involved. In fact contrary to media reports (RTE for one) no profits were made and the laundries were run at a financial loss. 
    The Institutions operated as a laundry, one of, if not, the only things that could be carried out on their premises.
    The women worked there to supplement their keep, the Government did not pay a penny farthing to their welfare other than through laundry contracts, they all had to be clothed and fed and whilst we are not talking 2013 Health and Employment standards the women’s protests are in the main about not being told why they were there and the loss of freedom that they experienced.
    But let’s not get too carried away, the vast majority, if not all, of these women had no where to go. Their families didn’t want them and neither did the Government who had no where to put them even if they did. Many women have returned to live out their lives with the Orders who ran the Institutions hardly complicit with the many abuse allegations that have surrounded the laundries.     
    It’s an extremely sad situation but the unfortunate truth is that if it were not for the laundries most of these women would have ended up in a far worse situation and probably with an early death.     

  • liquafruta

    So why was Enda Kenny in tears when he made the apology on behalf of the Irish Government in Dail Eireann? One can use all the sophistry that can be summoned up but a defence of these places for any reason whatsoever is inexcusable And where are all these anti-catholics whom Mr Oddie says have been lying about them? These places were run under the auspices of the Catholic Church with the government being implicitly involved. The government has now apologised. The Church now needs to do the same rather than Mr Oddie trying to create a fairy story to exonerate their complicity. I am a practising Catholic and I wouldn’t dream of defending them. They were exploitative, cruel quasi-prisons which made innocent people feel guilty for the crime of being born.

  • Baltar

    “The point is that these women were not abused physically”
     
    But they WERE:

    “Her head WAS shaved in that place and she WAS beaten also, I know that because she told me. One of her friends in there had boiling water thrown over her because she was talking to another girl. 

  • Asif

    I find it increasingly disturbing, the number of Politicaly motivated, disparaging articles that are appearing. As Catholics we are supposed to be in search of truth, not the rubbishing of things perceived as being a threat. Semantic acrobatics, squewed interpretations and personal attacts. It makes us look like nasty deranged fools.
    I suppose contributors to this rag have nothing better to say. Things are getting McCarthiest

  • Pingback: What happened at the Tuam children's home was a human tragedy, not a Catholic one – Telegraph Blogs

  • Pingback: What happened at the Tuam children’s home was a human tragedy, not a Catholic one | newsantiques