The grotesque story coming to light of the sexual shaming of single mothers and their children in Tuam in mid-20th century Catholic Ireland–and the septic tank there that was used as the collective and unmarked grave for bastard children–800 of them–is becoming known as “the scandal of the Irish 800 of Tuam,” and it has rattled Andrew Sullivan’s Catholic faith: “In the wake of the immeasurable silent pain of so many children for so many years in the sex abuse crisis, to witness another form of barbarism against children in the heart of my own church … well, it’s one of those things that really does shake the foundations of one’s commitment to an organized religion. And maybe it’s because it’s in a part of Ireland where my own grandmother was born and grew up, and about a particular strain of Irish Catholicism that I know only too well – but it’s one of those news events that are hard to get past. It will sink slowly into our consciousness, the way the sudden revelations at Abu Ghraib did, and hint at so much more darkness beyond.”
I wonder if this incident might deliver Andrew to the roller coaster journey of a complete loss of belief in God, and I wonder if Andrew has seen Julia Sweeney’s contemporary counter to St. Augustine’s Confessions, which she calls Letting Go of God.
Sweeney’s full confession is here: