edited: Monday, June 11, 2007
By Merlene Fawdry
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2007
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Missive to the Catholic Church
Forgotten Australians of the Magdalen Laundries
Less than ten years ago, an order of nuns in Ireland sold off part of its convent to real estate developers. On that property were the remains of 133 women buried in unmarked graves, and buried with them was a scandal. In life, these women had been virtual prisoners, confined by the Catholic Church behind convent walls for perceived sins of the flesh, to remain in unpaid servitude in the Magdalen laundries. The church, perhaps afraid of litigation and a movement to win some sort of compensation for the women, has remained silent. The situation in Ireland continues to be one of denial by the good sisters, while they re-invent history to enhance public perception and promote modern day mythology
Such is the plight of a hidden sector of the Forgotten Australians; the women who were once inmates of the Magdalen laundries that operated in this country throughout most of the 20th century. These women suffered a violation of human rights, perpetrated by the Good Shepherd order of nuns, through their incarceration within the convents to work in unpaid labour to the enrichment of the Catholic Church. For many of these aging women, the emotional and psychological wounds of their abuse are as raw today as it was during their enforced incarceration and slave labour. These women and girls were not bad, nor were the deserving of the name penitents, for what had they done to be sorry for, except for being placed in this place of punishment and deprivation. They live in invisibility in the community where they hide, under a shroud of undeserved shame, from society’s opinion of them as deserving of their fate.
Lorraine Digney is one woman who is determined to see justice done for these women by speaking out about her own experiences to the Senate Committee enquiry into the Forgotten Australians and the Tasmanian Ombudsman Enquiry into adults in care as children. She uses her own voice and self-funds activities to raise public awareness of this stain on our history; to give a voice to the voiceless; and recognition to the invisible, through her tireless efforts and support for those affected.
The Catholic Church now professes to embrace social justice issues and has a major focus on exploitation of outworkers. It also recognizes and supports the fight for back wages owed to Australian indigenous people. This church has no difficulty identifying human rights abuses and social justice violations committed by others, then surely they should lead by example, by addressing its own past debts, as a testament to their sincerity.
The former inmates of the Magdalen laundries have yet to receive acknowledgement, apology, or any kind of reparation for the wrongs committed against them. If the Catholic Church is to be sincere in addressing contemporary social justice issues, it should first attend to its own human rights violations, through acknowledgement leading to reconciliation and healing for those affected by past practices.
Web Site: Merlene Fawdry
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|Reviewed by Lynn Meyers (Reader)
|This kind of thing was going on all over the Country in these slave labour place.Especially the church run places,and the nuns were so cruel to little kids.
Justice will NEVER be done,and they know they have got away with it.If only we had a strong government that would look right into these things.