The Irish Catholic Church was glorified for their adherence to a code of honour most closely paralleled by medieval history. The relationship between the Irish Catholic Church and their slaves, the unwed women and their children, provides a glaring example of how passages in the Catholic Bible have been cherry-picked by the Irish Catholic Church and their various Religious Orders to justify all kinds of actions and ideologies, nowhere does the Christian Bible condemn slavery, and the good book even instructs slave holders, the Religious Orders on how they should treat their slaves. I would say that some translations of the Christian Bible use the word “servant” rather than “slave” to, presumably, soften the language so as to not make it seem so arcane and inhumane. Many of the women and their children were in a kind of indentured servitude to the Irish Catholic Church, that these same women would enter into when they became pregnant with no financial support from either their male partner nor family. The women were shackled by vicious cycle of scandals and shame in their perspective communities. Where the master is the Irish Catholic Church, the benevolent priest figure to his grateful flock. What slave really meant in the Bible is central to our understanding of a holy book that claims to be the inspired word of a benevolent god. A god who a) condones human ownership in his book to mankind and b) does not condemn the practice at all seems decidedly malevolent and is depicted exactly as we would expect him to be depicted as if this book was written by a superstitious people in the ancient Middle East.
Slavery was never abolished in the Republic of Ireland, sadly Ireland held thousands of slaves until 1996, in addition, Ireland sold "thousands of children into slavery” the repulsive idea of having to work long and dangerously hard, with little food or water, and all the time without proper remuneration or appreciation. Many other women were also sold into domestic slavery, and their children, separated and illegally sold abroad, mostly into America. The vile practice or system of owning slaves was established by the Irish Catholic Church as going lucrative business, a ruthless opportunity for over 200 years ago, and most if not all the slaves the Irish Catholic Church owned were women and children. These Irish Slaves were housed in peculiar institutions of Irish Catholic Convents and Religious Industrial Schools throughout Ireland, at one time it was estimate over time, that tens of thousands women and children were housed in slave work camps of the Catholic Convents and Religious Industrial Schools dotted throughout Ireland. Irish Catholic Convents and Religious Industrial Schools throughout Ireland, implicit message was that slavery in Ireland was different from the very harsh slave systems existing in other countries and that Irish slavery had no impact on those living in the real Ireland. Their righteous slavery, the religious men and women of the Irish Catholic Church were acting in accordance with the divine will and God’s moral law, and were morally right and justifiable in the eyes of the Roman Mother Catholic Church. Whose duty was to save the women and children, wanton women who behave in a sexually immodest or promiscuous way, by enticing boys and men into wicked, sinful acts. As was explained by a senior Irish Catholic Archbishop, “these whores who used their sexually immodest and promiscuous behaviour on unsuspecting boys and corrupting Catholic men”. In the eyes of the Irish Catholic Church which was obsessed with sex of all kinds, women were viewed as wanton “seductress" and all were whores, promiscuous, immoral, shameless, unchaste, unvirtuous and especially sinful of easy virtue, wanton “seductress”, according to the Archbishop. Sexually immoral and promiscuous women where a great danger to the Irish Catholic Family unit, according to the rules of the Holy Mother Church and their offsprings, their children were the true spawn of the devil.
In reality the Irish People were shackled to a rich vein of Celtic superstitions and religion, a wealth of traditional beliefs and superstitions which have been held by Irish people for thousands of years. That in reality were the few things in their dreary lives that gave them, the Irish people any sort of comfort or meaning whatsoever, and they were literally shackled to that way of life, its folklores and its many strifes. These arcane superstitions and religion, that was ingrained at birth, entrenched in both Irish identity and culture, gave the Irish Catholic Church immense power over their fellow conscious creatures through its doctrines, a set of unshakeable principles laid down by the Irish Catholic Church as incontrovertibly truths, "the dogmas of Catholic faith" societal rules and morality, which the Irish People took in as absolute truths, unalterable facts preached hourly by the robust Irish Clerics, beating daily into their children at their religious madrassas, run exclusively by the Clergy. Irish People, blindly clung to their superstitions and faith through despairing times of immense personal poverty, wretched human suffering and violent social upheavals.
So what is Slavery, in the strictest sense of the term, any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure, (legally recognised by official state laws) form of property. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement and works without remuneration. Many scholars now use the term Chattel slavery (personal property) of the owner, like the Irish Catholic Church who bought and sold women and children as commodities. Chattel Slavery refer to this specific sense of legalised, de jure slavery. In a broader sense, however, the word slavery may also refer to any situation in which an individual is de facto ("in fact" or "in practice") forced to work against their own will. Scholars also use the more generic terms such as unfree labour or forced labour, to refer to such situations. Many children born in the Irish Mother and Baby Homes became automatic Chattel Slaves from the time of their birth, to single mothers. Most of of the women and their daughters were forced to work in the Magdalene Laundries, while their sons, the boys were forced to work in the Industrial Schools. All the women and their children were Slaves, subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment on a daily basis.
While Irish slavery was unique institutionally and recognised and supported by the Irish Catholic Church, Human Trafficking of Irish Children and Babies were most common during the 1930s, 40s, 50, 60s, and even into the late 70s., it was never outlawed. The most common form of this Chattel slave trade was commonly referred to as domestic servants, women and their children, their daughters as young as five, were used in the Magdalene Laundries, these women and children were kept in captivity, and some times the children were forcefully adopted in which these children were dehumanised as slaves and sex workers. As for the young boys, most were funnelled into slavery, raped and disappeared, brutality through the Irish Catholic Industrial School systems or work camps. In other areas, slavery or the free labour of these women and children continued through practices such as debt bondage to the Irish Catholic Church, or sold into Serfdom to rural Farmers or nearby hotels or great houses as domestic servants, or indentured labourers. Most if not all the women and children weren’t paid, many were both sexual and physically abused.
Forced Labour was used to refer to when an individual, woman or child was forced to work against their own will, under threat of great violence and rape, and other daily punishments and humiliations, but the generic term unfree labour is also used to describe Chattel Slavery, as well as any other situation in which a person is obliged to work against their own will and a person's ability to work productively is under the complete control of another person, say like a Farmer or an institution like the Irish Catholic Church.
Human trafficking primarily involves women and children forced into prostitution or sexual exploitation of both the women and children. As I said in a previous post, over 60,000 vulnerable Irish Children were illegally sold this way by the Irish Catholic Church, into bondage and slavery in America. Many of these abused children that were sold were frequently subjected to every form of coercion, such as physical violence, and brutal rape. All experienced restrictions on their normal childhood activities and movement once adopted by their new American Families, most ended up as both domestic workers and sex slaves. Ireland has a written Constitution, but in reality it never applied to the Irish Catholic Church, after all they, the Irish Catholic Church, wrote most of the Irish Constitution. As can be seen and read, Article 4 speaks for itself, in a clear concise manner and is a noble effort to protect the unprotected. It’s a shame that Article 4 of the Irish Constitution at the time was never enforced in the slave camps that were both the Magdalene Laundries and the Industrial Schools in Ireland. The Irish Clerics gorged over the written Irish Constitution, they did this because they could and worse still they rampaged over the written Irish Constitution, and better still, the Clerics got away with it.
Furthermore, not to speak in too contemptuous a tone, but, here is what the The Irish Bishops had to say;- “These findings demonstrate how as a Church and as a society we have failed to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. In life and in death, Women and Children should be treated with the utmost care, dignity and respect.”
And now not to be ungracious to The Nuns who ran the Mother and Baby Homes and the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland; - “All Women and Children should be loved unconditionally and treated with equality and dignity.”
The Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann)
Article 4 protects your right not to be held in slavery or servitude, or made to do forced labour
• Slavery is when someone actually owns you like a piece of property.
• Servitude is similar to slavery - you might live on the person’s premises, work for them and be unable to leave, but they don’t own you.
• Forced labour means you are forced to do work that you have not agreed to, under the threat of punishment.
Owen Felix O’Neill
Owen Felix O'Neill
Author of Child Laundering Secrets, 2017