This has been a bad week for a lot of people.
One wit on twitter said it was a bad week for organised religion after the discovery that approximately 800 babies and small children had been disposed of (Not even buried) in what appears to be a septic tank. In other news a woman was killed by her family outside of a court in Pakistan for marrying for love, and in Sudan a woman was given the death penalty for changing her religion. The wit missed the point. It was a bad week for women.
A local historian by the name of Catherine Corless went through records and discovered the identities of 796 children who died while their mothers were incarcerated in ‘The Home’ a place for women who had become pregnant outside of marriage. You can read a full article here.
My friend, Donal O’Keeffe wrote about it here and was published in the Journal here, and brilliantly draws on our humanity, and comes to the depressing conclusion that, as a nation, we simply didn’t care. And in this I think even Donie missed the point a bit. People did care, but they cared about the wrong things.
This comes out mostly in the commentary that you can follow online if you look at the attacks on Donal over on the tweet machine, or following his article in the Journal. Plenty of people seem to care a lot, all right, but they care about protecting an institution. They are more worried about a perceived attack on the Church rather than on the horrific tragedy of what happened to so many children.
And that is where we lose humanity.
Here’s my messed up theological version of events:
The Catholic Church in the 20th century was resurgent in a new republic after a few centuries of repression. Suddenly it was the official church, and its leaders were afforded an elevation and power that they were simply not suited for.
The Church as institution became all too powerful, to the extent that people believed more in the Church itself rather than the deity that the Church is supposed to guide people towards.
I believe in God, and I believe that Jesus walked and lived on Earth and taught us a lot of things, and that what he taught us boils down to two ideas – how we should relate to each other and how we should relate to God.
Safe to say that many of the things that happened in the name of the Church during the 20th century are wildly off the mark of how Jesus wanted us to live. Whatever happened to ‘Love your neighbour’, the lessons of the ‘Good Samaritan’ or ‘the Woman caught in sin’?
After the brutal exposure of so much child abuse you would have hoped that we learned lessons. That hurts need to be exposed. That we need to think more of the victims. That nobody is served when we focus on protecting an institution.
The people on the attack over the past week, the people who think they are protecting the Church, they have missed the point. The core of this story is the hurt that was endured by hundreds of young mothers and their babies. The Christ I believe in would not lose that focus. He would not be involved in attacks on those who have done so much to bring this story to light.
- If you want to follow Donal O’Keeffe on Twitter, he’s @Donal_OKeeffe
- ‘Defensores Fidei’ means ‘defenders of the faith’ Just in case you can’t be bothered going to Google Translate!
- To whoever wrote the comment ‘it’s been a bad week for organised religion’. Apologies for not referencing you. I couldn’t re-trace where I’d seen your line originally.