This is the article that appeared in the October 2023 edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal. The date that prints out reflects the day that it was uploaded to our website. For a more accurate date of when the article was first published, check out the news release, here.
In 2014, Bill Donohue wrote a monograph, Ireland’s “Mass Grave” Hysteria, on claims that 800 bodies of children were found in a mass grave outside a former home run by nuns in Tuam, near Galway. It was all a hoax, just as he had suspected. There was no mass grave. The result: It made the anti-Catholic activists and journalists look like fools.
Two years ago, the Canadian government claimed that Indian children were buried in “mass graves” at residential schools established by the government and run, in part, by the Catholic Church. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sounded the alarms and ordered the nation’s flags to be flown at half mast; he pledged to spend $40 billion to settle with those associated with the alleged victims.
Looks like Trudeau, and all the critics of the Catholic Church, were fooled. It is becoming increasingly apparent that this story is also a hoax. After 14 sites were excavated recently, not one mass grave has been found. Indeed, the body count is zero.
This story began in 2021 after claims about unmarked graves emerged. Immediately, pundits and activists speculated that the Catholic Church (which did not run the majority of the schools) was to blame for the deaths of thousands of indigenous children. Murray Sinclair, who was chosen to chair the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, opined that the number of corpses was in the range of 15,000-25,000. Now the attorney and member of the Peguis First Nation can’t find even one.
When the Report was issued last year, it did not make claims about mass graves. Instead, it focused on the “cultural genocide” that the indigenous children experienced. After reading the Report, on August 2, 2022, Donohue titled his assessment, “The Genocide That Wasn’t.”
No sooner had the charge of “cultural genocide” been bandied about when it was shortened by Catholic critics to “genocide.” On p. 6 of the Report, it noted that “Despite the coercive measures that the government adopted, it failed to achieve its policy goals. Although Aboriginal peoples and cultures have been damaged, they continue to exist.” So much for the “cultural genocide” thesis—never mind the more serious charge of genocide.
Was there no violence at these residential schools?
In the 535-page Report, there were exactly two testimonials about killing. One was made by an indigenous woman who said she witnessed her older brother kill one of her other brothers when she was nine. The other was in reference to a killing that took place between 1980 and 2012. The residential schools were closed in 1969.
If the residential schools were guilty of genocide, surely the Report would’ve found instances of torture, if not whipping. We looked in vain to find such incidents. Oh, yes, there was one instance of whipping: it was committed by a government teacher in 1895.
Were the Catholic-run schools free of wrongdoing? Pretty much.
On p. 68 of the Report it says the missionaries opposed integrating the indigenous children into the public schools, but not for nefarious reasons. They did so because “1) teachers in public schools were not prepared to deal with Aboriginal students; 2) students in the public schools often expressed racist attitudes towards Aboriginal students; and 3) Aboriginal students felt acute embarrassment over their impoverished conditions, particularly in terms of the quality of the clothing they wore and the food they ate.”
None of this was highlighted by the media, nor by Trudeau’s government.
Mass graves. Genocide. We saw those words thrown about with alacrity in Ireland a decade ago, and more recently in Canada. These false charges have stoked anti-Catholic sentiment in Ireland and have led to the burning of scores of Catholic churches in Canada. The consequences of bigotry can be severe, especially when promoted by the secular-minded members of the ruling class.