The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

In the Name of God and the Morality of the Wealthy

Jun 23, 2014

Human remains buried in a pit in Galway, Ireland have recently come to light due to the work of Irish historian Catherine Corless. There were 796 babies and infants who died between 1925 and 1961 in the Saint Mary “Mother and Baby Home” in the town of Tuam. The bodies piled in a septic tank, didn’t have normal funerals because they were born to unwed mothers and weren’t baptized! But beyond their deaths, the horror resides in the lives of these children born in institutions managed most of the time by nuns.

Up to recently, the Catholic church, and more particularly its nunneries, ran pretended homes for young single mothers who in Ireland were often poor. These Mother and Baby Homes were in fact places of mistreatment and slavery designed to bury alive young women “in a state of sin” and their children, to hide them from the eyes of bigoted bourgeois society. Further, a number of these locked up women furnished free labor in “Madeline laundries” for their entire lives, as shown in the 2002 movie Magdalene Sisters.

The scandal revealed at Tuam isn’t an isolated case. Other “homes” run by nuns have been brought to light, despite the influence of the Catholic church and the collusion of the Irish State to keep this outrage quiet. After a great deal of difficulty, people raised there as children and the close relatives of those who died have been able to find records. They show the inhuman scorn with which these children were treated. According to hospital records, in some “homes” the infant mortality reached 25% to 50% a year.

Records have revealed establishments in Castlepollard, Bessborough, Roscrea and Sean Ross Abbey–where Philomena Lee was forced to give her son up for adoption to a couple from the U.S., as shown by the recently released movie Philomena. Some of these “homes” were run by Protestant churches and three others by the local authorities themselves.

The surviving victims are still demanding apologies and compensation from these inhumane institutions. Other countries have done the same thing, including Scotland where orphanages provided free labor to farmers and France, where the authorities imported by force 1,600 children from the island of Reunion off the coast of Africa in the 1950’s to work in the Creuse region.