The investigators said they were trying to identify “who was responsible for the disposal of human remains in this way.” The answer to that is staring everyone in the face: it was the nuns of the home, under the direction of their priests. A Labour Party lawmaker, Joan Burton, called on the Roman Catholic “Church” to provide more assistance to the investigators. Typically, the “Church” of Rome was not exactly rushing to assist. The Bon Secours order of nuns, which ran the home until it was closed, merely issued a terse statement in which it said: “The Bon Secours sisters are fully committed to the work of the Commission regarding the mother and baby home in Tuam. On the closing of the Home in 1961 all the records for the Home were returned to Galway County Council who are the owners and occupiers of the lands of the Home. We can therefore make no comment on today’s announcement, other than to confirm our continued cooperation with and support for the work of the Commission in seeking the truth about the home.” Terse, unemotional, and hardly contrite! This has ever been Rome’s way: it either attempts to cover up its crimes – or to deny any responsibility. A pledge to “co-operate” means little unless concrete co-operation immediately follows. Corless saw through this typical response from the nuns, criticising it as “the usual maddening nonsense. They must apologise and take responsibility for what happened here.”
We agree wholeheartedly that this kind of response is, indeed, “the usual maddening nonsense.” We also agree that they must take responsibility. We do not believe, however, in this modern fad for “apologising”. Everyone is doing it: the pope “apologises” for the Rwandan genocide, and “apologises” to the Waldenses for Rome’s massacres of them; politicians “apologise” for this, that and the next thing; etc. It is all a farce. It is simply not enough to say, “We apologise”, and expect that to be the end of the matter. If the nuns called a press conference and said, “We apologise that almost 800 children were discarded in unmarked graves by us” – does this belated “apology” remove the sin of what was done? A feeble “we’re sorry” is not true repentance! Besides, one can only apologise for what one has done personally – not for what was done in the past by others!
No, an “apology” is a mockery, a farce, a sop designed to pacify people.
And what was the response of the archbishop of Tuam? Michael Neary is his name, and he said that he was “horrified and saddened to hear” of the commission’s revelations. Well, of course this is what he would say, isn’t it? But what, really, does this expression of “shock” amount to? Nothing. Why is it that these people are always so “horrified and saddened” only when they cannot cover up the crimes of their “Church” anymore?
He went on: “This points to a time of great suffering and pain for the little ones and their mothers. I can only begin to imagine the huge emotional wrench which the mothers suffered in giving up their babies for adoption or by witnessing their death. Some of these young vulnerable women may already have experienced rejection by their families. The pain and brokenness which they endured is beyond our capacity to understand. It is, then, simply too difficult to comprehend their helplessness and suffering as they watched their beloved child die.” Note what he actually said in this speech: nothing but the same thing over and over. In summary this is what it amounted to: no one can imagine what those women and their children went through. That’s it. This was the response of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Tuam. No outrage and disgust that nuns committed these atrocities! He knows – of course he does – that whatever those nuns did on that property to those children and/or their bodies, it would, at the very least, have been done with the knowledge of a number of priests, perhaps many priests, in the area; and also, in all likelihood, with the knowledge of at least some of the archbishops at the time: his predecessors. Nuns, priests and archbishops of his religion: they knew. But he would not mention these things. Of course not. Keep the response general. Keep it absolutely non-committal. Keep it overflowing with “nice” sentences about how painful it must have been for the mothers and their babies. And hopefully the faithful in Ireland (and the world) would not notice what he did not say, and focus solely on what he did.
Children who died at Roman Catholic facilities such as this one were, in fact, often buried in unmarked graves. “That was a common, but ill-documented practice at such Catholic-run facilities amid high child mortality rates in early 20th century Ireland.”
There were various other Mother and Baby homes. There was St Patrick’s Home in Dublin, and three institutions run by the order of nuns called the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary: Bessborough in County Cork, Sean Ross Abbey in County Tipperary, and Castlepollard in County Westmeath. Each of these homes had high mortality rates, and each one of them had mother and baby burial sites.