Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Irish Catholic Church: Slavery for Pregnant Girls

Back in 2009 I wrote a blog about Philomena Lee, a young Irish lass of eighteen years who became pregnant. Her baby was stolen from her and sold for a profit by the Catholic Church. The story would have been lost in obscurity except for this:
Philomena's baby became Michael Hess, a chief architect of the Republican National Convention's election strategy, whose brilliant work ultimately won the presidency for George H.W. Bush (senior), and for which he was appointed Bush's chief legal counsel.
It turns out it's even worse. In addition to selling babies for profit, The New York Times now reports that the babies' unwed mothers were forced into slavery:
The Magdalene laundries were a network of profit-making workhouses run by four religious communities ... they were initially used to reform prostitutes. By the 1940s, however, most of the residents, or “penitents” as they were called, were young women who had sex outside of marriage (in some cases victims of rape), unmarried mothers, women deemed flirtatious and the mentally disabled.
These weren't voluntary homes for unwed mothers. The women were kept behind locked doors and forced to work. They weren't paid. They were forced to endure physical hardships and hard labor until they died. There are also allegations of sexual abuse and mental abuse. If they escaped, the police captured them and returned them to their forced labor.

With the cooperation of the highest levels of the court system and the Irish Catholic Church, pregnant women and prostitutes were effectively sentenced to a life of slavery. The laundries, which were for-profit companies, served as a sort of secondary prison system with the full knowledge of the courts and the Church.

And we're not talking about something that happened in the 1800s or even the 1950s – it was till going as recently as 2001. There are still women alive today, now in their seventies and eighties, who were victims of this modern slavery. These women made one mistake – sex outside of marriage – and were given a life sentence of forced labor.

If that's what the Roman Catholic Church calls morality, I'll take the secular version any day.

1 comment:

  1. This does not surprise me at all. . .this is NOT the way to teach people good habits and the Catholic Church seems nice on the outside, but qite judgemental on the inside. This is a shame and It believe it allm Ny Grandmother lived in Mass for a while, down the dtreet from a Nunnnery and when all was finished there, after many decades, when it was torn down the found babies in the walls and a tunnel that led from the nuns to the Priests quarters. Hiw sad!


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