Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Philomena: the shameful truth behind an eloquent film

Disgrace: the Magdalene laundries

The Irish Catholic Church's placement of illegitimate children to families in America was far more common than anyone realised in the past.

But the unfortunate unmarried pregnant girls who were hidden in convents north and south of the border knew only too well of the thinly disguised baby trafficking that went on, with the Church pocketing the fees for the adoptions.

Stories are legion of the cruelty of some nuns, both in schools and laundries. Although I was taught by perfectly decent nuns in Belfast, one in authority left mental scars on many pupils lashed by her vicious tongue.

However, I had no idea of the scale of the abuse perpetrated by some nuns until the scandal of the Magdalene laundries began to unravel.

There are thousands of women today who are still affected by the disgrace heaped upon them as a result of their teenage pregnancies, in many cases the result of what would now be classified as date rape.

In many such cases the Catholic Church offered genuine help, but I've no doubt there are girls who found themselves in Philomena's shoes at 16, who will never speak out due to the censure which should be placed at the feet of the Church.

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