“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isaiah 54:13)
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
It’s been a long few weeks since I’ve written. It has been a busy time for me and those around me but today my head and heart were filled with words. Perhaps impulsive and over emotional, but how else could I react to the revelations of yesterday’s Ryan Report?
I had known what was to come. I think we all did. As the editorial in the Irish Times today put it, “Mr Justice Ryan’s report does not suggest that this abuse was as bad as most of us suspected. It shows that it was worse.”
I cannot begin to understand the pain and continued torture suffered by those committed to the “care” of these bastards purporting to carry the banner of Jesus. I speak as a daughter of a mother who is so devoted to her life within the catholic faith that she can only talk about the church in the way one would discuss a family member who’s gotten on your bad side.She’ll slag them off but as soon as someone else joins in the slagging she’ll leap to the church’s defence.
I attempted to discuss the report with her today. She accepts its findings, to a point. I can understand her position to a certain extent. If she were to wholly entertain the findings her whole world would fall apart at her feet. She attends mass every day, she has lived in the shadow of priests her whole life. She was of a generation of women who were “churched”, a ritual during which the apparently sinless priest cleansed you of sin and impurity after you’d given birth. In the time period between giving birth and being churched, the new mother would sit in the “churching pew”, away from family and friends, marked out as an impure sinner.
I have tried to imagine what it was like for these children, these babies. I have mentally placed my 6 year old niece or my 2 year old nephew in their position and wondered what I would do if it was happening to them. At the end of the day i’m getting nowhere.
The continuous torture they suffered is so horrendous, so unimaginable that I am just left with a feeling of unease and a unyielding swell of anger.
I am not a parent but I spent a large part of today conversing with Sorcha. As well as being a gifted musician and all-round exemplary human being, Sorcha is mammy to a gorgeous daughter.
It is through Sorcha’s reaction that I began to understand. She pointed out that the Irish Examiner had extensive coverage of the report. I said I would go and buy it to which she replied “I couldn’t buy it. I know it sounds like I’m ignoring it but I just couldn’t cope with reading it. I don’t have the strength. Babies and children. Nobody to love them. I wish I could travel back and mother them and save them.”
That’s the key, isn’t it? That’s the first reaction, for parents or non-parents. The thought of hurting a child, let alone molesting a child, is enough to make anyone lose all control of their rational thought processes. How was this reaction absent from all the members of the religious orders involved? From the bishops who received complaints? From the Government ministers who knew what was going on? How could you hear about the torture of a baby and simply move the torturer into a new area, knowing he or she would do it again? What the fuck has happened in our country?
The Ryan Commission has proposed a memorial to the victims of the abuse which, to be honest, means fuck all unless they get a full, unreserved apology from all involved and convictions to boot. This memorial will bear the words:
“On behalf of the state, and all the citizens of the state, the Government wishes to make a sincere and long overdue apology to the victims of childhood abuse for our collective failure to intervene, to detect their pain, to come to their rescue”.
I cannot agree to this. Where is the apology from the people who allowed children to be raped, to be humiliated for skipping class or wetting the bed? It is not my crime. I am a citizen of this state but I am not part of this “collective failure”.
The Greenmount Industrial School is a few steps from my home in Cork City. When I spoke to my mother today I asked her if people knew what was going on. “Of course they did”, she said, “but sure weren’t we all beaten then?”.
It was then that the sadness hit me hardest. The failure is only on the part of the torturers who have ruined the any goodness the church had in Ireland and the Gardaí and politicians who did nothing about it.
They have failed those who were abused, in every way. They have failed my mother who thinks it was normal to be beaten to shit by those who were meant to look after you. And they have failed my generation for robbing us of any chance we had of having faith in an honourable church or an honourable government.
Peace be with all those who have waited so long for a justice that has yet to be served.