The Irish government is considering a wider inquiry into the possibility of many more mass graves for abused and neglected children across the island. The legacy of this evil system – deeply rooted in the church and the state – could emerge as something even darker than we have just witnessed. What we’re looking at is an entire society designed to make undesirables invisible – the “wayward” young women, and their stigmatized illegitimate children. And the point of that forced invisibility and, in the case of children, mass death, was to uphold the Catholic doctrine that regards sex as something so dangerous, that any exception to the one-partner-for-life-and-babies rule had to be extinguished from view. And that, of course, also applied to the other unmentionable class of people who could not live up to this rigid, punitive ideology: gay people. In Ireland, homosexuality was decriminalized as recently as 1993.
This is the social architecture necessary to ensure that the godly republic of Rod Dreher’s dreams actually could exist in the modern world. This is what you need to prevent fallible human beings from infecting society with their Satanic impulses. The Magdalene Laundries were really a kind of gulag for sexual miscreants:
[Boston College professor and activist] James Smith refers to it as Ireland’s “architecture of containment,” and that’s exactly what it was. You had these industrial schools, the Magdalene laundries, the mother and baby homes, all with different remits, but the basic model was to contain and segregate anything that was deemed morally inferior by society, whether that’s children, unwed mothers, the women in the Magdalenes, etc.
The mother and baby homes were different in that they were regulated by the state and had to be accredited adoption societies, at least by 1952, which is when that became legal in Ireland. They received stipends from the day they opened, from the government. They were receiving the equivalent of an industrial wage at that time for each mother and baby, from the state. If that were the case, why were so many of these women, like my mother or Philomena Lee, expected to earn their keep if the state were in fact funding that? It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Obviously there was some profit being made there, not to mention what half of our parents paid. That’s another story unto itself. Adoptive parents were “donating” huge amounts of money.
So these homes were both labor and internment camps. And the inmates were deemed beneath any empathy or decency. What’s impressive about the thoroughness of this vision of theocon perfection is that it extended even to the children of such wicked women.
The sexual theology was so all-important no other values – not even protecting the innocent and vulnerable – could be allowed to dilute it. At the apex of this system, of course, is the celibate priesthood, whose sexuality is also simply regarded as non-existent, whose human needs and urges are made invisible as well, even as their damaged psyches – damaged by the same theology that created the gulags – led them to the mass rape and abuse of other children.
This is a form of Christianity which treats children as objects to be raped, neglected or left to die. It is a reminder of how foul and dangerous the union of church and state can be, and of how utterly distortive sexual repression and delusion can be. Here’s what the Catholic church is when its sexual repression is its first and fundamental value: a church that essentially aborted its unwanted children – but only after brief wretched lives of abuse, neglect and sickness.