Magdalene nuns hit back at critics and defend their role

Patsy McGarry

Fri, Mar 8, 2013,

Two nuns who were involved in running Magdalene laundries have hit back at criticisms of the four congregations which operated the 10 such institutions in Ireland up to 1996.
In interviews to be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1’s The God Slot at 10 o’clock tonight “Sister B” said: “All of the shame of the era is being dumped on the religious orders.”
When asked whether an apology might be appropriate after the McAleese report on the laundries, “Sister A” responded, “apologise for what?”
Reporter Claire McCormack interviewed the nuns for America magazine and was allowed share it with The God Slot on condition that the nuns, their congregation and where they worked were not named. Their words are voiced by an actor.
“Sister B” claimed that religious congregations in Ireland have been “stigmatised by the media”. “Some people claim generational hurt but we are suffering the generational hurt as much as any of the residents out of this and it is unfair . . .
“The sins of society are being placed on us, the scapegoat, and we are being sent off into the desert because that’s the only way they can get rid of the stigma. It’s the media who are portraying us in this light.”
Asked whether an apology might be in order, “Sister A” responded: “Apologise for what. Apologise for providing a service? We provided a free service for the country. Okay, it may have been putting away an ugly part to society, which it was in a sense, but it was the family who chose to put them there,” she said.
“Some of the orders accused educated the country, nobody is blamed for that. Society at the time had a great need to help these women and we stepped in . . .
“There was a terrible need for a lot of those women because they were on the street, with no social welfare and starving. We provided shelters for them. It was the ‘no welfare’ state and we are looking with today’s eyes at a totally different era.”
Asked why the four congregations were not speaking out more, “Sister A” said: “Because we would be stoned! . . . Society is more inclined to believe the bad stories and people have forgotten the good we have done through all our years.”

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Categories: Magdalen Women

14 replies

  1. In another article on this site, I read that 4 orders of nun, orders that were responsible for the laundries, are refusing to contribute to the very modest fund set up to compensate the victims and families of victims. Well, how about if instead of putting our Euros, our pounds, our dollars, our hard earned money in whatever currency we have, how about we toss in a pink slip of paper printed with the following words “Until women have a stronger voice and better representation, we refuse to supply any monetary support to our parish and by extension, the Catholic Church”. Just a thought.

  2. Well one thing that really shook me was when i read that xeveria answered when questioned about the landing she said i forgot them for 7 years nearly every night she dident worry about leaving a child shaking in fear for hours

  3. The nuns only looked after the Children for their own gain. They used the Children to do all kinds of work from a very early age. They considered the Children in their “care”inferior to other Children and didn’t think them good enough to give them an education. But to stuff the Childrens heads with nonsence that was no good to them when they were thrown out at the age of sixteen they weren’t at all
    embarrassed about.
    What made them take on looking after Children? One thing is for sure it wasn’t for the Childrens sakes. As they were uncapable of showing any kind of love towards the Child. I for one had the missfortune of being brought up by loveless nuns from the age of two and a half. I longed for nearness and kindness and a feeling of being loved but was left to starve completely from all feelings that a Child badly needs. So it is not more than right that they now should ransack their conscience and ask themselves:Would they themselves have been content to have had our uppbringing?
    What I would loke now is a Little of the Money to help me in my Winter years of Life. Education is no good for me now. I would have loved it earlier in Life,but then we didn’t get the choice. Now I just want some help to get a holiday or something nice Before leaving this horrible Life. Mary

  4. Sister A and B why are you speaking out now. For the last few years groups and others have been campaigning for these women where were your voices then. Just because the Irish government has found you guilty of every single crime you are trying to sound good.How dare you say you gave these women a home. They were locked up from society and every human contact. Holy sisters of mercy you had your own farm land and grew crops that is what these women ate if they worked hard enough. Sister B why aren’t you dead by now and buried in a mass grave with all the other mental ill nuns. None of you will ever get to heaven the only place for you is to burn in hell. I remember been told that was going to happen me. I wont waste another word on stupid people. You did wrong admit it

  5. From 1946 to 1950 or so 1000 children were brought from Germany to Ireland. These children were fostered out to mainly catholic familys. I have nothing against this but it does say that there were familys in Ireland who were ready to take care of another child. this was also organised by the church. So this legend about the whole country starving seems doubtfull to me. During these years many men from Ireland were absent because of wars so many women were left alone to deal with problems but that doesnt mean that thay dident want to keep thier babys.

  6. Christina wrote:-

    “Sr. B equating the discomfort the religious orders feel by the reporting of their crimes in the media to the ‘hurt’ these religious orders caused to the women (and children) in their institutions is like complaining of a hangover to someone with a brain tumor. It’s disgusting.”

    LOL! That reminded me of a recent remark on the Irish Times comments website re the current Irish controversy re abortion:- “Its like opening up a can of embryos” LOL, again!

    ” It’s none of her damn business how people spend their own money.”

    Well, Christina, these women (nuns A & B) are RC after all. Do you really expect them to be rational? You know, Normal adults, with normal brains? I don’t. But, there IS method in madness -:)

    Kind regards,
    Martha

  7. Pauline wrote:-

    ” … Even when it was the familys who sent them there it was often on the advise of the local priests or nuns,,,”

    Pauline,

    It wasn’t always the case that parents sent their children (e.g., pregnant teenage daughters) to those RC prisons, it was more that such parents had themselves internalised the shame of such a “situation” and/or were absolutely terrified of their neighbours, who were brainwashed Roman Catholics.

    We’re talking here about having nowhere else to go – as in, being trapped like a cornered animal. That’s how it was for the vast majority of Irish people back then – most of whom were permanently psychologically fucked-up as a result of their childhood conditioning. Note, my own mother was one such person, I’m sad to admit.

    During the course of my education (I left school at the age of 14, by the way) I have met a few women who had the misfortune to have spent their entire childhood in Irish RC industrial schools. And despite their subsequent University degrees and professional training, they are still as RC as they were as children. It was truly a fascinating experience for me as an adult meeting them and having long discussions with them, but they are not normal adults, nor will they ever be. Such is the lasting effect of early childhood experience …

    “As for education in the schools qualified teachers went abroad because the church had taken all teachers jobs for themselves.”

    I think the word “HIJACK” perfectly describes what Roman Catholicism did to Irish society, and is still trying to do. Another name for it, is Tyranny.

    I’ll finish off this reply to your post, Pauline, by quoting (paraphrasing) Mark Twain: “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education” :)

    Kind regards,
    Martha

  8. I listened to that “God Slot” programme on RTE radio and I was (how shall I put?) intrigued by what Sr. A, in particular, had to say about Irish society. For example this:-

    ““There was a terrible need for a lot of those women because they were on the street, with no social welfare and starving. We provided shelters for them. It was the ‘no welfare’ state and we are looking with today’s eyes at a totally different era.”

    This woman (Irish-American?) is obviously a very dehumanised adult, who has no understanding of what actually went on in the Magdalene Laundries, or in Irish society in general, back then when the Catholic Church ruled Ireland with an Iron Fist – which is another way of saying the RCC was as tyrannical as the Brits who dominated us Irish for 800 years, with their “Military Might”.

    In short (though I do love to “rant” – and I’m on “night shift” again) this nun, and adult female, has no understanding of her own personal childhood experience. For all I know, she could have been lobotomised as a child.

    Some adults are like that: they have a rose-tinted view of their childhood, which they never grow out of – and they make great “fodder” for the “Snake Oil Salesmen” …

    Meantime, a new Pope has been selected. He’s a 76 year old white man. Fuckit, I was hoping the younger Black guy from Nigeria was going to be the new Head of Mafiosa Rome. There goes my bet of a tenner. Ah well, ya win some, ya lose some – dats Life!

  9. Sr. B equating the discomfort the religious orders feel by the reporting of their crimes in the media to the ‘hurt’ these religious orders caused to the women (and children) in their institutions is like complaining of a hangover to someone with a brain tumor. It’s disgusting.

    Also, it is not ‘widely accepted’ that those compensated by the Redress Board ‘wasted’ the money and I can’t even begin to understand why Sr. A or Sr. B (I can’t bring myself to listen to the interview again) would argue against compensation for the Magdalene women on this point. It’s none of her damn business how people spend their own money.

  10. They may hit back all they like even the nazies thought they were the super power and followed their leaders

  11. how dare these nuns even think of trying to defend what they did ?there is no excuse for abuse ands abused beaten and battered these women were ! the nuns should be defroccked and charged and the ladies should get redress asap as we are all getting older dont let the maddie girls go through the system we went through for redress as it is a farce as is the new fund pay them out now and they can at last have some peace in their lives that is the least that they owe them as a survivor i am fuminf on their behalf .

  12. I was reading a book about art. In the 1500’s Caravaggio, the artists, was protected from charges of murder by membership of a Catholic order. Over the centuries membership of Rome’s orders was [sic] a licence to commit everything from robbery to rape without fear of punishment by anyone but the Vatican. In 21st century Ireland the Vatican’s equivalent of SS guards benefit from the same immunity. They are allowed to speak under code names and air their indignation at being discommoded by pesky allegations of crimes proven against them. When their organisation is found to have committed crimes against children, to have corrupted an entire country and to have hidden money to avoid the bill, they still get away with it. And Catholic “sister” A and Catholic “sister” B feel like they’re the victims.

  13. Well..What do you expect from “people” that would abuse children and degrade women…back then..there is NO excuse!
    If the entire world was abusing certain people,
    does THAT make it excusable!
    These ” nuns” had their chance to speak out against violence, abuse and A P O L O G I Z E,
    but they choose to keep the same attitude – ARROGANCE – they will have to answer to God, as THEY say we all will?

  14. Thats what happens when after so many women were sent straight from industriel schools or the courts. Even when it was the familys who sent them there it was often on the advise of the local priests or nuns and the lack of freedom wasent neccesary. the fathers of babys born under the care of the nuns dident even get to share decisions about thier babys. i have never heard anywhere that the washing was done for free. Everything changes with time but these women were locked inside these places otherwise the police would never have brought back girls knowing that thay would be locked up for years. As for education in the schools qualified teachers went abroad because the church had taken all teachers jobs for themselves.

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