Is $34.5 Million Enough for Ireland's Magdalene Victims?

What do you think of the Irish government's announcement yesterday that it would provide the estimated 770 living victims of Catholic Church-run Magdalene laundries at least $34.5 million to compensate them for their months and years, even decades of forced labor?

In remarks to former Magdalenes, Justice Minister Alan Shatter apologized to the women and said he hoped they would accept the government's compensation plans as "a sincere expression of the state's regret for failing you in the past, its recognition of your current needs, and its commitment to respecting your dignity and human rights as full, equal members of our nation."

Here's some related information:

Ireland to pay $45 million to Catholic laundry workers (CBS News)

Irish Cillini and Magdalene Laundry Panel with Linda Evangelista, Toni Maguire, Mari Steed, Gerry Regan

'The Magdalene Sisters' Hits America's Shores


Tags: Faith, Magdalenes

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Hmmmm ... I don't know.  Difficult to put a dollar amount on something like this, isn't it?  The thing that's most ridiculous -- and I've heard plenty of other people here in Ireland say the same thing -- is that the government is picking up the tab for the Catholic Church.  That's ridiculous.  This means that Ireland's taxpayers will be penalised for what the Catholic Church was doing.  Again ... ridiculous.  Any time "the government" is paying for something, it means the taxpayers.  

How is it okay for normal, hard-working people who had nothing to do with this horrible scandal to be paying damages?  The Irish government either needs to go after the Catholic Church for this money, or tell these victims and their families (and the entire world) that the Catholic Church not only allowed these things to happen, but they're also now refusing to try to make it right.

I agree with Ryan on several accounts, e.g. how do you put a Euro amount on the damage done and placing the blame on the Church's although I think the Irish government was somewhat complicit in the scheme.

I hate to sound anticlerical, because I'm a churchgoer, but isn't it ironic, given the financial doings of the Vatican Bank and the recent arrest of the monsignior seeking to smuggle money into Switzerland, that the service these poor ladies provided was laundering?

LOL, so true, Jim. Richly ironic.

Our formerly beloved Church and clergy:   their is a lot of dirt in their backgrounds.  We must now reform, and find ways to  have our own Reformation, but also make corrections  that hold onto what was good.

Many times we hold onto something because it is old.   Often it just means the same ignorant mistakes have been made over and over.  The priests' horrendous mistakes and emotional problems  of our time is just one example.

If the Church that left us wants us to let it back into our lives, it needs to reform;  No more mandatory celibacy, which only makes the priesthood and religious life a very attractive place for those with sexual conflicts and desires.  I can see optional celibacy, but with rigid requirements and supervision for those so dedicated.  And it is dedication or sickness that causes a young man (or lady) normally, to give up sexual attraction to another.  Lets quit pretending.

We Irish need to get up off of our rears and be active.  We often think and talk good, like Ryan here, but if we just talk, we are the enemy.

I want to be happy here. And say nice things about love to all Irish. 

But., that is not enough.   We need the Jerry Adams in our ranks and more like him..

I have never said or thought the Catholic clergy as individuals were enemies of the Irish people, but in truth many were and simply mouthed the Church's then and now ultra conservative edicts.   Like sheep. 

Today they do the same.  Young men having no emotioal or physical maturity become celebate to be priests.  Please?  They teach and talk to heterosexuals and homosexuals about what is right and wrong.  Hell, my Catholic parents like most priests and nuns of my youth considered sex in general as dirty.   Quit hiding this stuff.   Do not be afraid of being called anti clerical in a time when it is richly deserved and needed.

I will always try to support this site and be fair and balanced, but will always call a spade a spade unless I step on one in the dark.  

This is just ONE THING I have been alluding to on here.   At first blush, I would think a figure around $770 million dollars would be in order.

It is, however, just another example of our sickness as Irish people that we do not INSIST, march every day if needed, so that THE CATHOLIC CHURCH NEEDS TO PAY ALL OF THIS, and then that is peanuts compared to the hurt they put on innocent poor people they  could not even see around them for years and years.

That is just gross when those like priests (Bishops etc) and nuns who are there to help, actually turn on our people and hurt them.  My gawwwwd.

Yes, of course the criminal entity, The Roman Catholic Church, should pay all of the restitution.  They should be forced to pay much more than this.  But, to those who say the Irish citizens are without responsibility, I say, "Who sent the "wayward girls" into these catholic laundry prisons?  Who failed to rescue these poor girls after a few months of unfair punishment?  Why have the passionate Irish people allowed this sex sick church to torture young women for expressing a normal, healthy sexuality?"  Sex was the infraction, or fear that the girl might engage in sex, that usually justified this imprisonment.   Women were enslaved for years in these work-houses.  They were like factory farms for girls. Why did their families not act?  No criminal conspiracy of such scope can operate but for the complicity of regular people.  These crimes continued until very recently.  The church is financially and ethically responsible, but the Irish people also bear the shame of abandoning their girl children to become slaves of the church.  Even I, as I grew up in Boston, was threatened by my mother with being sent away to "The Home For Wayward Girls".  Didn't women, before the church, once enjoy respect, and freedom in Ireland?

Gael, yes, I believe women held considerable authority in Celtic Ireland. Read our three-part series on Irish Goddesses. See if you agree.

Interesting letter to the editor in the indo recently:

Blame the State for laundries, not the
05 August 2013
* I would like to write a few words in defence of the nuns who are being castigated and vilified. If
everything that happened 50 and 60 years ago was judged by today's standards, almost every person over 50
would have a reason for putting somebody behind bars or extracting money from them.
I could sue my father for making me milk cows at 7am at the age of seven. I could claim I was subjected to
child labour when I was made to scrub floors, feed calves and pick potatoes. I could claim I was traumatised
at the age of nine or 10 after being thrown up on young horses when they were being trained to the saddle.
I didn't get paid. I didn't think it was unusual and it wasn't unusual. Many people I know would have had the
same experience. I was probably afraid of my father, but I also loved him. We were slapped, as were many
people back then, and there was very little open affection shown.
Some women in the Magdalene laundries were not able to cope mentally with a harsh regime. If a girl
became pregnant, her family didn't want her, the father of the child didn't want her and everybody was
ashamed of her.
Women who became nuns in that era were subjected to a very hard regime themselves. They opted not to
have children.
They believed they were devoting themselves to a life of prayer for those who had sinned. The nuns
probably thought of the girls they took in as soiled goods, people who needed to repent and pray to become
holier and learn the error of their ways. Everybody else thought the same, including the State, and nobody
else was prepared to do anything about it.
The media have an important role to play, but they should not be allowed to play judge and jury.
I would be much more critical of the State than of the nuns.
It is the State's job to see that the country is looking after its citizens.
E W Burke
Dun Laoghaire
Co Dublin

It is an interesting rebuttal, or, perhaps attempt at clarification. It's a thorny issue, judging people of a previous era by the moral and humanistic norms of today.

And I think that is it in a nutshell, Ger... Each generation will look at this from a view point all their own... Whilst I agree that the Church should be picking up the tab, I can also see the view point of those who might believe the State to be also responsible.

Again, we are looking at this...and society as a whole are looking at this... differently than anyone would have during the time frame in which it all occurred... The Mores were different then. It was thought to be a charitable thing...sending them off to work in the laundries...if the nuns were strict and meted out physical was not outside the boundaries of the norm

In the days of the Laundries, unwed mothers were sent away, locked away, made to do countless rights of penance. They were shunned and held up as an example of what every GOOD girl shouldn't be. Today we have television shows glorifying teenage and unwed mothers.

I liken it to the reparations demanded here from descendants of the Slave times. The only difference is that there are still living survivors in the case of the Magdalene Laundries. Who shold pay out the raparations in the case of the slaves? I would say the descendants of the Slave Owners but we, the taxpayers, would foot the bill.



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