Bill Donohue

Mass hysteria has gripped Ireland, England, and the United States over reports that nearly 800 bodies of children have been found in a mass grave outside a former home run by nuns in Tuam, near Galway. The Catholic Church has been hammered incessantly, and shrill cries of maltreatment abound. Fresh off the heels of horror stories about the Magdalene Laundries, and the torment of Philomena Lee (as recorded in the film, “Philomena”), the public is reeling from the latest report of abuse at the hands of cruel nuns.

None of this is true. There is no mass grave. Women were not abused by nuns in the Magdalene Laundries. And Philomena’s son was never taken from her and then sold to the highest bidder. The evidence that the public has been hosed is overwhelming. Truths, half-truths, and flat-out lies are driving all three stories. That’s a bad stew, the result of which is to whip up anti-Catholic sentiment. This is no accident.

Regarding the latest hoax, many reporters and pundits have charged that the “mass grave” story is “Ireland’s Holocaust.” The Nazi analogy belittles what happened to Jews under Hitler, and dishonors Irish nuns. The nuns never put kids into ovens; they did not starve them to death; and they did not torture anyone. Even if the most glaringly dishonest stories about children who died in Irish homes were true, they would not come close to approaching the monstrous atrocities that Jews endured under the Nazis. To make such a comparison is obscene.

It is true that 796 children died in the Tuam home between 1925 and 1961, and their whereabouts is uncertain. But that hardly merits the fantastic leap that wicked nuns dumped them in a septic tank, treating them as if they were raw sewage. There is not a scintilla of evidence to back up this scurrilous accusation. Yet in May and June, this propaganda was disseminated on both sides of the Atlantic, treated as if it were an accurate account.

What is perhaps most striking about this story is the extent to which much of the mainstream media has had to walk back its inflammatory stories. The Associated Press even apologized in June for distorting the record. But the damage has been done: once again, the Catholic Church in Ireland has been unfairly blamed for persecuting innocent women and children.

Anti-Catholicism in Ireland, England, and the United States is fueling the “mass grave” hysteria. It’s a sick appetite, and there is no shortage of irresponsible persons feeding it.

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