The Shame of Ireland
If they would only Listen
We are most privileged to address you on a topic which will bring home to you, how much we need the presence of Christ among us, and more so today than at any other time mankind has been on this beautiful planet. This Congress acknowledges His presence in a wonderful way. The Church and sin are inextricably linked. O Felix culpa we might chorus –O happy fault.
But sin makes for little joy, as human suffering in all its forms, most often inflicted on the poorest, weakest, and most vulnerable in our society, is what sin is all about.
We are survivors of these sins, and we represent many other survivors, whose lives have been blighted by acts of incredible coldness, meanness, and neglect and by vicious assaults inflicted on our persons fueled by all the most unimaginable horrors of human depravity. We know the depths that human nature can sink to, when we fail to acknowledge our inner darkness. The first step to virtue, is to acknowledge our guilt.
This huge injustice, unmentionable vice happened to us and thousands of others within the confines of the Industrial Schools system, manned and operated by and under the supervision of the Catholic Church in Ireland. We served ‘Child, Life Sentences’ in these Institutions.
Irish society had early warnings that things were awry. Fr. Flanagan of Boystown fame in Nebraska was here in 1946, and spoke loudly and unequivocally about what was being perpetrated.
Church and State, the chief culprits in the system, ignored his warnings.
What kind of evil force could push well educated, austere, apparently virtuous men and women, into a situation where they incessantly and consistently harassed and punished young girls and boys, whose only crime was poverty. What warped view of these children, could sustain such persecution over so long a time.
Were we seen as subhuman, diabolical?
The perpetrators of sexual abuse against us, we’ll leave to God.
Nothing in Christianity explains all of this. We must look more closely at Irish society, and come to some judgement on what was the root cause. There is some constant, across the country, which must be identified and labelled. This constant predates and negatives to different extents, the later Christian indoctrination these people endured. This preChristian mindset must be eradicated from our Church.
For too long we blamed the Famine on British malpractice, until some brave historian asked a few awkward questions. The things he discovered about our own complicity in the event, should help us find an answer here as well. It may be an unpleasant realisation.
The end result of policies reminiscent of the gulags and death camps, is that there are many hundreds of men and women, who survived the system, living lives of sadness, misery and constant moral and physical suffering. They are living mostly in Ireland and the UK, average age, over sixty, on the brink of disaster, and need our help to soften the hard edges of what have been excruciating existences.
We have requested the Hierarchy, who so far have given us nothing, to help us, help these people, only to be fobbed off with expressions of sympathy, offers of counseling and prayers, when something further is so badly needed.
Smoke screens of different shades and murkiness have been edged in between us and them, to prevent their being called to account. They present the hard faced bargaining abilities of a conscienceless cattle dealer at an old fashioned Fair Day, who knows he has all the advantages on his side.
This is indeed a travesty- their main concern is to preserve their bank balances. The poor man on the way to Jericho who fell among thieves, was ignored by the same type of lofty cleric, resplendently attired, hurrying on his way.
The one constant, over the centuries, is human nature.
All of this is so, even though the same hierarchy have openly admitted their role in this terrible tragedy.
Imagine Christian churchmen also resorting to the civil judiciary and courts system, in their attempt to stave off any effort made by us to get some recompense. The people intent on destroying Christ did the same. We in fact have a deep feeling of affinity with Christ, because of what has happened to us. We were also dehumanised.
We asked for bread, they gave us a stone. We rejected a memorial stone, but that is all we got, much to our annoyance, last Sunday.
Claims made by Church press releases during the last few days have described the Clerics as being in dialogue with Survivors. We know for a fact that one person was involved in one such meeting, and not very many in the others. The Church technically was telling the truth as usual, while it handpicked its ‘survivors’.
The implications of the Church resorting to the legal road have been cruel and wasteful. We have come across crooked dealings in this area, where people frequently speak duplicitously, expend the least amount of energy in their endeavors, and walk off with a huge percentage of the compensation funds, in their copious pockets. These are the backbone of Irish Society, ‘mara ea’.
The statute of limitations has been invoked against us, and poor, often illiterate men and women have been made to sign a waiver that they could not understand, and which prevented them from ever being heard from again.
The State and Church are determined to keep the victims of Industrial School abuse in their proper place.
The problem is that the Church has lost so much money paying the compensation for clerical abuse, they are determined to hold the ring against us, the victims of institutional abuse.
Our plight is deserving of equal if not greater comforting. We Served 'Child,Life Sentences', under their watch, and in their Catholic Institutions.
Refusing to help us is not a Christian option. We do not have access to the proper courts, and never will, because of political manipulations.
Likewise the Hierarchy have allowed the Religious Orders involved in the whole sorry mess, to face demands made on their resources, without any advice or help, the result being feelings of discord between the diocesan and these religious bodies.
At least the hierarchy should have had the courage to let us talk to you here today, and fill you in on a campaign which is so dear to our hearts. Personally we have nothing to gain from any of this. The PP back in West Waterford was most gracious last month, when he allowed a talk to fellow parishioners on the same topic.
This may be a beginning.
We have also asked the clergy to institute an Annual Day of Atonement for the victims of the Industrial School system, living and dead. This would be a perpetual warning that such horrors must never again be visited by any of us on weak and vulnerable people.
Yet the time for talking is over. Let the Hierarchy recover their dignity, and their soul, and make a new beginning, no longer hiding behind all kinds of stratagems and smoke screens. We will be grateful for any help we receive.
There are hundreds of people in dire need ; these and all of us will rejoice in a new beginning. It will be a cheap price to pay for the resolution of problems and healing of injuries inflicted on innocent children.
‘Anything you do to these Victims/Survivors, you do it to Us’. This is the only Law the Hierarchy need worry about, and surrounding which there are no waivers.
We end by thanking this Government for the ‘Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill 2012’. It will go some way to alleviate and help the suffering of survivors of Institutional Abuse.
Our thoughts, prayers, and support go out to ‘Justice for Magdalenes” .
Our heartfelt sympathy to all members of ‘Patient Focus and Survivors of Symphysiotomy’.
Thank you all for your patience.
Michael O’Brien P.C. Chairman:- ‘Right to Peace’
Christopher Heaphy B.E. Chairman:- ‘V.O.T.E.S.’ ( Voices of the Existing Survivors ).
|Founder of Boys Town in 1917||1 of 6|
Edward Flanagan, centered in the front row,
with his family in 1908.
Source — Boys Town Hall of History, Boys Towns, Nebraska.
Edward Flanagan was born in County Roscommon, Ireland on July 13, 1886. As a young man Flanagan wanted to be a priest. Father Flanagan moved to America in the 1910s. His first parish was in O'Neill, Nebraska. His second one was in Omaha, Nebraska.
Father Flanagan developed an understanding for the boys and young men who were orphaned by society. He realized that children who were neglected often turned to crime.
"Smoke screens of different shades and murkiness have been edged in between us and them, to prevent their being called to account. They present the hard faced bargaining abilities of a conscienceless cattle dealer at an old fashioned Fair Day, who knows he has all the advantages on his side. "
love the prose!
1st prise for anyone who can say that they knew of ONE Intelligent person (Nun's ,Priests, Christian Brother who worked in Industrial Schools. no matter how deep the dig there wouldn't be one. NOT ONE.
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