Monday, March 5, 2012

The Irish Gulag: How Ireland & the Church Betrayed Its Innocent Children

It's been called "The Irish Holocaust" and "The Irish Gulag." This is the first in a 4-part series on the Irish Industrial Schools. 

About ten years ago, a friend in Rotary gave me a book on this subject. She was Irish and had strong feelings of hatred and resentment toward the Catholic Church. What she had read and knew about the Industrial Schools in Ireland has soured her on the Church as well as Christianity. As I have read about what transpired at these industrial schools, I was confronted with such unspeakable horror and evil that is reminiscent of the German concentration camps for the Jews in WWII.
However, what makes this even worse is that these industrial schools were run by Catholic priests and nuns, totally sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Ireland has the notorious distinction of having the greatest number of cases of children who were beaten, tortured and abused in a government and church sanctioned system that began in 1862 and 1990. Similar  abuse occurred at industrial schools in England, Scotland, Australia, Canada and the United States. In every case, these schools were run under the auspices of the Catholic Church.

It is estimated that about 130,000 children were committed to industrial schools in Ireland alone between 1868 and 1990. On May 20, 2009, the (Irish) Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse released its findings. The five-volume, 2,600-page report is a catalog of horrors, describing "endemic sexual abuse" at boys' institutions and the "daily terror" of physical abuse experienced by the estimated 130,000 Irish children who were sent to them. The report lists the sexual, physical and emotional abuse—including rape, molestation and severe beatings inflicted on children in about 100 so-called industrial schools in Ireland.

Future posts will debunk the myths that are associated with the industrial schools, some personal accounts from the victims of this systematic abuse, some who triumphed in the face of trauma and some who didn't. Finally, the concluding post in this series will be an attempt to understand how this dark evil is endemic to the Catholic Church in Ireland as well as here in the U.S. with the sexual abuse scandal which was uncovered in the 1990s by the Boston Globe. How does the Catholic Church respond when it is confronted with these unspeakable horrors. I'll cite the Church's "own words" as to how it answers the charges made by the surviving victims and their families. Before you go, take time to view the video: "Four Walls, One Faith, No Identity" with scenes from the movie: "Song for a Raggy Boy."