Saturday 23 September 2017

Emer O'Kelly: Faceless nuns shame the God they profess to serve

The religious orders responsible should be relentlessly pursued for full financial reparation

EXPLOITATION: A memorial plaque in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, for those who suffered at the hands of religious orders in the Magdalene Laundries
EXPLOITATION: A memorial plaque in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, for those who suffered at the hands of religious orders in the Magdalene Laundries

Emer O'Kelly

There is a term used in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church: "making reparation". It's required before a sin can be forgiven. But the four orders of nuns whose members used, abused and exploited for profit hundreds of other women over generations, seem not to be aware of it. The women who had the power, the all-powerful authority figures in the headquarters of the religious orders, and their "sisters", who had less but perhaps even more dangerous power, and stalked the Magdalene Laundries like the jailers they were, denied their prisoners hope, justice and charity. And they made a nice little (actually a very large) financial profit from it.

The crimes for which their victims were imprisoned were poverty, loneliness, bereavement, abandonment, and in the cases of those who were pregnant, innocence betrayed.

The money the victims' unpaid sweated labour made for the orders who had power over them amounted to vast wealth: assessed at €1.5bn in 2009.

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