When I read historian Catherine Corless had researched records indicating the bodies of 796 infants crammed into a massive septic tank in Tuam, Ireland, had been discarded there by Bon Secours nuns — the Catholic order operated a now-demolished home for unwed mothers at the site between 1925 and 1961 — I was horrified (“Grave Holds 800 Babies Born Out Of Wedlock in Ireland,” June 4). Even worse, a health board report from 1944 described the children residing there as being emaciated. The Irish Catholic Church wouldn’t baptize illegitimate babies, so they couldn’t be interred in blessed ground, hence the septic tank.
Systematic degradation of unwed mothers led to these atrocities because Ireland was a theocratic state controlled by an ultra-conservative, misogynistic Catholic Church. Sex became the “ultimate” sin. And by controlling sex, the Catholic Church controlled women. Pregnant, single mothers were herded into unwed mother homes because they were viewed as pariahs, even by their church-going families. And if they couldn’t pay the 100 pound fee, they were forced to work it off, sometimes for five years in deplorable conditions while their children were being abused or adopted by wealthy American, British and Irish couples. Children who didn’t die or weren’t adopted often were sent to industrial schools where they spent years laboring without compensation.
Many of their unwed moms, along with other “fallen” women, were imprisoned in the infamous Catholic Magdalene laundries. They became unpaid, abused slave laborers, some for life.
I’m a Catholic. I’m part Irish. I’m disgusted! Thank you, sweet Jesus, for permitting me to be born in a country with separation of church and state!