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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Response to Andrew Sullivan "The Dish" Regarding Tuam

Andrew Sullivan has denounced this blog post.

I said that there is nothing "Catholic" about the horrors that occurred at The Home in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, an institution run by nuns where a mass grave of dead children was recently discovered.

Sullivan replies,

"Yes there fucking is."

Apparently Sullivan assesses himself as so important that he can speak abusively to a person like me who is not famous and who is not present.

Sullivan rants about others' lack of righteousness while behaving like a bully himself.

Sullivan goes on to say

"These children were treated as sub-human because their births violated a Catholic doctrine that there can be no sex outside of marriage. The young women – denied contraception, of course – were equally subject to horrifying stigmatization, hatred, and inhumane rules that took their children away from them. None of this would have ever taken place without this doctrine."

There is no Catholic doctrine that illegitimate children should be treated as "sub-human" as Sullivan wrote.

I am Catholic. I grew up in a very Catholic world. My friends had children out of wedlock, and nothing like what happened in Tuam occurred. My friends' kids are adults now and no worse for wear.

Something evil was going on in Tuam. Something that is utterly foreign to me as a Catholic.

That same evil victimized children in Romanian orphanages, in the offices of Portuguese socialists, in the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, where, for just one example, doctors purposely infected retarded children with hepatitis, in the mind of Harvard and MIT scientists who fed American boys radioactive breakfast cereal, in America's child protective agencies, where children who are obviously being abused are returned to abusive parents who kill them.

Discarded children, especially discarded female children, are nothing new. Andrew Sullivan should educate himself by reading "Bare Branches" about female infanticide.

Andrew Sullivan should educate himself by reading Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize Winner, who told us about the hundred million missing women and girls in Muslim, Hindu, and Confucian Asia.

I lived in Nepal. I watched as the families living on either side of my rented home methodically starved their youngest daughters. I attempted to intervene by providing the families with lentils. They cooked the lentils and fed them to sons. Destruction of the youngest daughter is standard operating procedure in the Indian subcontinent. Oh, but those are Hindus and Muslims, so Sullivan doesn't care – can't use these facts to pursue a vendetta against Catholicism.

People who are troubled by the news from Tuam should not waste their time ranting against Catholicism.

Ridding the world of Catholicism will have zero positive impact on children. My guess is that given Catholicism's role in providing social services, it would have a negative impact. If we roll back the clock to BC, we find a Roman legal code that mandated infanticide for daughters after the first; we visit Sparta where defective children were exposed; in Carthage parents sacrificed their children to Moloch by burning them alive. Drums were used to drown out the cries.

When Catholics abuse children they do so against their own teachings. That is not true of all belief systems. Some belief systems either mandate mistreatment of children or take no stand, thus, effectively, condoning it.

The solution to horrors like Tuam is not to demonize Catholicism. Not to insist, falsely, that child abuse is a Catholic thing – it isn't. The solution is to return to Jesus' teachings on children. "Whatsoever you do to the least you do to me." Those are the words that matter.  

Sullivan's evident concern is not abused children; they exist, to him, solely as an excuse to stir up hatred against a religion.

I am a survivor of child abuse. I attended 12 Step meetings for years for survivors of child abuse. My brother and sister survivors came from every racial, religious, and economic group. We were white, black, brown. We were rich and poor. We were Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, and Buddhist. Some of us were abused in institutions. Some of us were abused in foster care. Some of us were abused in our natal families.

For all of us, one thing was very, very true. Others saw, and did nothing. Catholics saw and did nothing. Buddhists saw and did nothing. Jews saw and did nothing. Atheists saw and did nothing. Angry, arrogant loudmouths like Andrew Sullivan saw and did nothing.

When I witness child abuse, I do something.

When I talk about child abuse publicly, I advise others to do something.

I do not waste time attempting to exploit the suffering of children and say, "Oh! The reason this happened is because you are a Jew / Italian / from South Asia! So let's hate Jews / Italians / Asians!"

To do so would be to betray abused children, and to use their pain to monger hatred.

Those who insist that child abuse is a Catholic thing are betraying abused children.

You can read Sullivan here. But why waste your time?

Rather, go to a site like World Vision or Big Brothers Big Sisters – and help a child who needs help.

And next time you see child abuse – DO SOMETHING 

Coincidentally enough, I recently blogged one chapter of my own child abuse experience. As I mention in that post, I turned to a teacher of mine I admired, even though she was anti-Catholic. She was a gay rights activist. She let me down. I feel no animus toward her for this, or toward gay rights activists. People do bad things. You can read that blog post here

There is another post on the Tuam topic here.


  1. I totally agree with Danusha. Child abuse is NOT a Catholic thing. The Catholics who committed the offenses, as Danusha points out, are doing so OUTSIDE Of the teachings of the Church. These homes in Ireland, for unwed mothers, were barbaric, the poor young women were treated horribly, made to work like slaves, stripped of the rights to their children. But these abominable acts, were committed by Nuns, who themselves were sick and twisted and maybe had been forced by sick and twisted families to join the convent. These were unhappy woman, who were bitter cruel and vengeful. Just as the nuns were when I went to Catholic school, they were very abusive to small children,,surely these were NOT "brides of Christ" but frustrated unhappy women. The Catholic church did NOT teach them to behave this way. I think it is highly unlikely that anyone in Rome with any power in the church had any idea what was going on in those homes. They were meant as a refuge, and unfortunately they were anything but. Not a Catholic condition but a human condition. And as Danusha pointed out, something that all religions, cultures, societies have had to deal with through the ages. Our prisons are FULL of child abusers of all kinds, colors, shapes, sizes, religions, nationalities. I too am a survivor of Childhood sexual abuse.. It had NOTHING to do with being Catholic and everything to do with the fact that sick and perverted people come from all walks of life. O.k. just my two or three cents on this...

  2. Oh please! No one ever said anything about all child abuse being caused by Catholics alone (the martyrdom is strong in this one!). But as we have seen in the last decade or more, it does have an institutional record of ignoring child abuse at the hands of it own. And for you to pretend that it is the people (priests, nuns, layfolks, whomever) and not the institution that are entirely to blame is disingenuous and has allowed that child abuse to go on for far too long.

    If you weren't so intent on your own martyr complex, you would be aware that many Protestant congregations are going through similar ordeals. They don't attract the same kind of attention, probably due to the fragmented nature of the Protestant churches.

    Those nuns at The Home were supervised by the hierarchy of their order and the larger church, and no one in that time saw a problem? Perhaps they are as blind as you.

    You claim "When I witness child abuse, I do something" but then stick up for an institution that coddles and protects (or has in the past - to a massive degree) these abusers. Sullivan is a Catholic, but one that understands that the Church is not infallible, and is working to change the many problems that such and old and massive organization will undoubtedly have over time. It is folks like you who claim to want to protect children, and then end up protecting the abusers and the environment that fosters them implemented by the Church. that is the problem. And then you have the nerve to castigate Sullivan? Wow.

    Maybe you should remove the plank from your own eye before you start pointing out the plank in others.

    1. Anonymous -- why not post under a real name -- you wrote:

      end up protecting the abusers

      Can you please tell me how I have protected an abuser?

      My guess is that you know zero about me and don't want to know -- which is fine -- but since you know nothing about me, why accuse me falsely?

      I've received many emails from Sullivan's readers, and most are lynch mob style.

      How does that make any of you any good at all?

      Lynch mob members are not exemplars of ethics.

  3. You know that Sullivan is Catholic don't you? At least he was until he was hounded out of your church because he married a man. How Christian of you all! Good luck on your hate campaign against any form of criticism of your blind support of the Vatican no matter who suffers in the wake.

    If you knew anything about Sully you'd know that he's been writing about female infanticide and genital mutilation for years. Hell, he just wrote about the evils of the caste system just yesterday. But of course you don't care. Your faith means more than the lives of anyone. God forbid if any Catholic is called up to answer for participating evil or its cover-up. The church must survive no matter what, right?

    1. Anonymous -- why don't you post under a real name?

      You say I am part of a hate campaign. Huh?

      You say I blindly support the Vatican.

      Right. That's why I am on record as a gay rights activist, a feminist, pro choice, and in favor of women priests.

      Again, I say Huh?

      Do you get it anonymous that you are acting the lynch mob?

      I've received many posts from Sullivan's readers and they range from "fuck you you should die you deserve to die" to more civilized versions of that.

      I don't admire your behavior or the behavior of your comrades.

  4. In 1944, with German U-boat activity at its height, how much of Ireland was malnourished?

    There is a whole lot of forgetfulness of history in this anachronistic Catholic hate-fest.

  5. "I am on record as a gay rights activist, a feminist, pro choice, and in favor of women priests. "

    Why didn't you say so to begin with? You're not a Catholic at all then.

    In any case, as a gay man I have to say, the church had gone out of its way to vilify, berate, and humiliate gays and lesbians my entire 52 years on this planet. I am to old too let go of the pain that catholics and other Christians have inflicted on us. If you call yourself a Christian or a Catholic my first reaction is fear and loathing no matter what you believe. If you live with pigs you may end up a sausage!