Revulsion Over Infant Deaths in Catholic Institutions Grips Ireland

Judgmental Moral Certainty and Perverse Religious Morality

James Finn
Jan 13 · 5 min read
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Protesters held up placards of the names of babies buried at Tuam during the Pope’s visit to Ireland in August 2018. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

Shocking mass grave in Tuam

The judicial commission was formed in 2014, largely at the prompting of survivors, after the bodies of almost 800 unburied babies were discovered in a Bon Secours institution septic tank in the town of Tuam, County Galway.

Survivors demand apologies and financial compensation

Historian Catherine Corless, who uncovered the mass grave in Tuam, has said she is very disappointed the commission did not single out specific institutions and people for criticism. She calls the report a “whitewash” that does not go far enough in judging individual culpability or recommending victim compensation.

Taoiseach accepts responsibility and calls out perverse religious morality

“The regime described in the report wasn’t imposed on us by any foreign power,” Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin told a news conference yesterday. “We did this to ourselves as a society. We treated women exceptionally badly, we treated children exceptionally badly.”

Sexual shaming and theology

Individual stories of Catholic nuns emotionally abusing and shaming unwed mothers are a big part of this Irish tale. Survivors have given journalists and commissioners heart-rending accounts of cruelty imposed with deliberate punitive intent based on Catholic theology that brands sex outside of marriage as “sinful.”

The Irish have rejected Catholic sexual shaming and Catholicism

Catholic church attendance in Ireland over the past two decades has plummeted, and most Irish people (including almost all Irish youth) no longer identify as Roman Catholic. They cite the Church’s child sexual abuse crisis, its hostility toward LGBTQ people, Church abuse of unwed mothers, and the Church’s continued political work to stop women from accessing contraception and abortion.

Will the Church ever change?

As a gay man from a large Irish-American Catholic clan, I’ve personally experienced the toxicity and hatred springing from Catholic teachings of sexual shame. My nieces and nephews learn in Catholic school that LGBTQ people like me are “intrinsically disordered.” Nuns teach them that men and women like me commit “acts of grave depravity” when we form loving sexual unions.

Let the Irish crisis be an object lesson in religious sexual shaming

Institutions staffed by Catholic nuns who abused single mothers and neglected their babies resulted from theologies of sexual shaming that the Church refuses to change.

Let 800 dead babies in a septic tank testify to the need for immediate, fundamental change.

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James Finn

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

James Finn - The Blog

Collected Writings. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist.

James Finn

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

James Finn - The Blog

Collected Writings. Stories and ramblings from a long-time LGBTQ thinker and activist.

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