Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injury done to some person or other, and some other man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who hath received any damage, has, besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation.
— John Locke, “Second Treatise”
12. If your kin, a Hebrew man or woman, sells himself or herself to you, he or she is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year you shall release him or her as a free person.
13. When you release a male from your service, as a free person, you shall not send him away empty-handed,
14. but shall weigh him down with gifts from your flock and threshing floor and wine press; as the LORD, your God, has blessed you, so you shall give to him.
15. For remember that you too were slaves in the land of Egypt, and the LORD, your God, redeemed you. That is why I am giving you this command today.
Deuteronomy 15: 12–15
Religious texts in Judaism, Islam and Christianity all recognise slaves. So the question I pose is should the Irish Catholic Church pay financial reparations to the women and children of their Religious run Institutions, like the Magdalene Laundries, the Mother and Baby Homes and the Industrial Schools of Ireland?. My answer is a clear “YES”, the IrishCatholic Church made money, hundreds of millions of pounds from the dehumanisation and demonising of unwed women and their children. It is naive to think that the past has nothing to do with the shape of today. It’s not enough that the Irish Catholic Church closest to ever offer a full apology was “ with deep sorrow and great sadness”. Financial reparations should be paid in consideration of the forced and uncompensated labour these women and their children performed in the Religious run Institutions in Ireland in which the Irish Catholic Church gained. Also many private institutions and local business, gained with the use of free labour from these Religious run Institutions.
These are the reasons why:
1. The women and their children built these Religious Institutions against their will. They were compensated with rape, torture, beating and death.
2. The women and their children never had anything of value to pass down to generations to keep their memories alive, many lost their complete families within these run Religious Institutions.
3. Slaves of these Religious run Institutions were not considered humans so we have no true documented history of where we are from, who we are related to or anything pertaining to our family history.
I believe that our entire Irish society would benefit from this move of paying reparations to the women and children of these Religious Institutions. First of all, much of the economy of these Religious run Institutions, current and past were built upon the success of the Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes and the Industrial Schools, with the use of free slave labour in the form of women and their children. For example all the Magdalene Laundries made money with the use of free slaves in the form of women and their children, who were held captive in these Religious run Institutions. The Religious Orders as slave owners were allowed to do whatever they wanted to their slaves including beating them, sometimes to death, raping them, including impregnating them, stealing their children and babies from them to be sold as slaves and worse than anything else, dehumanising them. In many areas of these Religious run Institutions, educating their slaves was actually discouraged. The Religious Orders took any possibility of education away from them. If our parents were not educated then we would begin life with a severe disadvantage. We went a step further by continuing to deny educational opportunities once slavery in these Religious run Institutions had ended. In addition to this, the Religious run Institutions actually convinced many of women and their children that they were, in fact, less human than other Irish people. Many of the women and their children of these Religious Institutions, believed they were animals.
The Irish Catholic Church, run Institutions, sold thousands, of women and children into a hellish life of slavery, including the illegal sale of babies abroad to finance the Irish Catholic Church’s continuous operations and expansions, both at home and abroad. On that fact alone, there is no dispute, the Irish Catholic Church history’s worst crimes against humanity, was the selling of children and babies as slaves. Another fact, Catholic Church, run Institutions in Ireland sold children as slaves for vast profits for a low estimate of $100 million dollars. This revenue from the sales of babies and children subsidised expansions of their state schools and private hospitals that the Religious Institutions ran at the time and run to this day, and paid the school and hospital building debts that the Irish Catholic Church, had accumulated at the time. Many Convents, schools, churches lands, bishops palaces, church buildings and hospitals, private nursing homes were all built on the broken backs of slave children and their mothers. All the women and children of the Magdalene Laundries, the Mother and Baby Homes and the Industrial Schools in Ireland were slaves. Now it seems to some morally imperative that they, the Irish Catholic Church, repay their ethical debts to these former slaves of these heinous Religious run Institutions. When the Religious run Institutions fell into financial trouble, the illegal sale of the Irish babies, women and children staved off its ruin.
Finally, Church’s asset portfolio included 10,700 properties, the Catholic Church in Ireland own or occupied more than 10,700 properties across the country and controlled nearly 6,700 religious and educational sites. With property worth in excess of 4 billion Euros, plus billions more in assets like Hard-Cash, Art, Books, Manuscripts, Gold, Silver, Jewels, Furniture, and other investments. This information was gleaned from known records. Something else the Irish Catholic Church pays no taxes an even get vast sums of free money from the Irish Government. So the money for paying reparations could easily come from the very wealthy Irish Catholic Church’s assets. If we moved that Irish Catholic Church money, into reparations it would provide the recompense deserved for the abuse of all the Survivors, it would help also to remove the stigma many Survivors feel today. I want to elaborate on how reparations improve Survivors lives. By acknowledging the disadvantage created by slavery in these Catholic Church run Institutions and the subsequent human rights violations committed in them. It’s important even significant factor that slavery played a huge part in bolstering the economic strength of the Irish Catholic Church, and Ireland in general.
We here in Ireland must take responsibility as a nation for allowing such a thing to exist, we also restore the dignity of that suffering to those, the Survivors, who have descended from it and most certainly been impacted by it. Improving those relationships and removing the stigma from the money that this Irish Catholic Church should distribute, would unite our nation, improve our economy (putting money into the hands of people who will spend it) and significantly improve the conditions for many of our elderly Survivors. The Irish Catholic Church directly benefited from the slavery of these women and their children, as did all the Religious Orders, with the illegally, selling of babies and children, enforced labour on the captive women and their children. The vast profit making of the Industrial Schools through the selling of their farm products, clothing, shoes, and carpentry, and of course the illegal trafficking of babies and children directly out of the Mother and Baby Homes of Ireland. Also the vast profits made in the Magdalene Laundries run as a criminal enterprise with the full support of the Irish Government and Irish Business Contracts.
These women and children of the Religious run Institutions in Ireland, did not go to a proper school and had little or no time to play. Also in most cases they very often did not receive proper nutrition or care. They lived the life of an adult and had their childhood, abused, raped and stolen. A vast majority of the women and their children worked in hazardous environments, as slaves. The women and their children were forced to work long hours as slaves in the Magdalene Laundries, the Mother and Baby Homes and the Industrial Schools of Ireland. Many within the Religious Orders that ran these vile Institutions, beat, raped and even killed their charges, forcing the women and children to work long hours, many in poor health. Many women and their children were physically tortured, with beatings, rapes and starvations. All the women and Children were verbally abused and physical assaulted on a daily basis, many women and children were worked or beaten to death. Child slavery and child labour was acceptable in our society and encouraged and run by the Irish Catholic Church.
Let’s be clear, child labour, exploitation and child slavery destroys the innocence of the child, children should not have their childhood taken away. It is not the children’s duty nor should it never be the duty, to meet the needs of the Irish Catholic Church, in all cases, child labour leads to corruption, child abuse, child rape, human trafficking and slavery. Slavery in any form is wrong and it is disgusting that the Irish Catholic Church profited by enslaving women and children in their Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes and the Industrial Schools of Ireland. “Slavery is the use or the threat of violence to make another do work without compensation”, and this is what the powerful Irish Catholic Church did. The Irish Catholic Church’s now has a Moral Debt owed to these women and children of their Religious Run Institutions.
Slavery is the ownership, buying and selling of human beings for the purpose of forced and unpaid labour, and this is what the Irish Catholic Church did with tens of thousands of unwed mothers and their children throughout its many Religious run Institutions in Ireland. Even Irish Catholic Church practice of slavery didn't usually try to defend it - they made excuses and attempt to avoid being caught; which suggests that they, the Irish Catholic Church know that they were doing wrong.
• Slavery increases total human unhappiness
• The slave-owner treats the slaves as the means to achieve the slave-owner's ends, not as an end in themselves
• Slavery exploits and degrades human beings
• Slavery violates human rights: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly forbids slavery and many of the practices associated with slavery
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”.
Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms”.
Article 4, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
• Slavery uses force or the threat of force on other human beings
• Slavery leaves a legacy of discrimination and disadvantage
• Slavery is both the result and the fuel of gender discrimination
• Slavery perpetuates the abuse of children
While slavery was certainly an accepted part of life in Ireland during that time, paying those reparations would be far more significant than constantly lying or selling of the land only to find secret burial sites, or tearing down Church buildings to hid the truth. For the Survivors, this can be a powerful moment of finding some peace for lost lives and families. Many of the Survivors have wept openly when they were told of family histories blighted in these hellholes of Religious Institutions that had been a mystery to them.The Survivors want their families recognised in a durable way. Some would like to see a permanent memorial, but where, and what!!. Many Survivors what to continue to find their family, real people with real names, and not a nameless body or bodies dumped into black pits at the back of all the Irish Religious run Institutions.
How ironic from the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis considers exploitation 'a grievous wound in the body of humanity’ and therefore for Catholics a wound in the body of Christ. If Pope Francis believes his own words, then let him speak out about the past practice of slavery of women and children in the Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes and the Industrial Schools of Ireland.
Some children were kidnapped by force, by the Nuns often after their Mothers had died, during birth or the mother was murdered, by neglect, or deprived of medications, in the Mother and Baby Homes of Ireland. These kidnapped babies would not be permitted to remain even with other living relatives who were lawfully married and in some cases had no children of their own. Other kidnapped children were sent to special centres and other Religious Institutions to be fattened up for future sales. All their official documents were altered by the enterprising Nuns, including their date of birth, the place they were born in, and their Mother’s name. Some of the kidnapped children had their original metrics of birth destroyed, and their names changed so were classified as "of little sale value" due to chronic undernourishment, deformity or ongoing illness, they would then be sent to other Religious run Institutions, within Ireland or abroad. Many of these kidnapped children now grown women and men, upon returning to Ireland to look for their families, in the last few years, said that their childhood kidnapping and abuses with their new families abroad has left an indelible haunting impression on them, when years later they learned the truth.
The extent of this secret program run by the Irish Catholic Church became clear to researchers over the course of many years, as they found groups of “returning Irish men and women, with dubious paperwork of their birth, false paperwork, issued to their adoptive parents by the Nuns, who sold them as nothing more then chattel. These returning adults, now come to beg for any official help in tracing their true families, which is now provided by the different Survivor groups partly funded by the Irish Government. Locating these children’s childhood was and is a hidden minefield which turned up their horrendous stories of forcible removals, beatings, rapes and even death at the hands of the savage Irish Religious Orders. Some researchers with Bernardo’s Tracing Services, were constituted to search for any paperwork or family that would or could help. But sadly with Irish Religious Order’s paperwork altered deliberately on the adults as children, it has proven hopeless. The Religious run Institutions and the Religious Orders that ran them were trained and coached to provide false information. Thousands of these children now adults, suffered emotional trauma when they were removed forceable from their Mothers or other relatives, and will continue to do so to this day. Many have memories of their wretched childhood, the youngest children sold out of the system had no memories of their mothers or other family members that could be recalled. Now returning in their thousands to Ireland, desperate for any scape of information about their true identity, sadly not finding it, as the criminally desperate Irish Catholic Church, continues to destroy all documentation of their criminal past crimes.
Owen Felix O'Neill.
Owen Felix O'Neill
Author of Child Laundering Secrets, 2017