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Nuns buried hundreds of children in unmarked graves

Nuns buried hundreds of children in unmarked graves

The lead story today in Scotland’s Sunday Post reveals that that more than 400 children who died at the Smyllum Park orphanage were buried by Catholic nuns in in a single unmarked grave.

An investigation by the paper found that 402 babies, toddlers and children died there between 1864 and when it closed its doors in 1981.

The paper, working with the BBC’s File on Four programme, has produced a documentary – The Secrets of Smyllum Park – due to be aired BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, September 12 September at 20:00 BST.

The BBC reports that abuse at the care home including beatings, punches, public humiliations and psychological abuse.

And it points out that this case mirrors the investigation into the Tuam mother and baby home, an Irish institution run by a religious order, where it is thought nearly 800 babies and young children died and were buried in unmarked graves between the 1920s and 1960s.

Children who died at Smyllum Park were buried in an unmarked mass grave at a nearby cemetery in Lanarkshire.

Infants pictured inside the care home

Headstones mark the graves of the nuns and staff members buried nearby but no stone or memorial has ever recorded the names of the lost children.

The revelation the bodies are buried there provoked calls for Scotland’s ongoing Child Abuse Inquiry to investigate.

Former First Minister, Jack McConnell, who, on behalf of the Scottish Government, apologised to victims of care home abuse in 2004, said it was shameful they were still waiting for truth and justice. He said:

It is heartbreaking to discover so many children may have been buried in these unmarked graves. After so many years of silence, we must now know the truth of what happened here.

The order of nuns who ran Smyllum – where orphans and children of desperate Catholic families were placed – previously claimed they had records of 120 children who died there and were buried in 158 lairs at a cemetery.

But the paper’s research, carried out in association with the BBC, has revealed that far more children died at Smyllum. On average, one child died every three months there.

Former residents have accused the nuns and staff who ran the home – the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul – of beating and neglecting some of the children.

Their allegations formed part of the campaign that inspired the ongoing Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. The charity who ran Smyllum has already given evidence to the abuse inquiry, claiming earlier this year that abuse allegations were a “mystery” with “no evidence” of mistreatment.

However, the care given at Smyllum will be scrutinised during the second phase of the inquiry starting in November.

The paper’s revelations have provoked calls for those sessions to include an attempt to detail the children who died at Smyllum and discover how many are buried in the graveyard at St Mary’s.

Relatives of children who died at Smyllum are also calling for an immediate ground investigation at the cemetery using ground-penetrating radar to establish how many bodies are buried there.

The paper said:

Our attempts to get information from the Daughters of Charity were blocked but we spent three months combing death certificates stored in archives for answers. Our research – carried out in association File on Four programme – found 402 certificates listing Smyllum as the place of death or normal residence.

No details are recorded of the children’s lives, apart from their names, date of birth and when they died. Causes of death include accidents and diseases of the time such as tuberculosis, flu and scarlet fever. Some died of malnutrition. Our research was carried out by Janet Bishop, of the Association of Scottish Genealogists And Researchers In Archives. She trawled through more than 15,000 official records.

There were 11,601 children who passed through Smyllum Park between 1864 and 1981, according to evidence given at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. It means the death rate among one to 14-year-olds was at least 30 deaths per 1,000. Analysis of figures from the National Records of Scotland, reveal the highest mortality rate among children aged between one and 14 was in 1901 when 10.4 deaths per 1,000 were recorded.

The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul declined several requests for interview.

But, in a statement, it said:

We are Core Participants in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and are co-operating fully with that inquiry. We remain of the view that this inquiry is the most appropriate forum for such investigations.

Given the ongoing work of the inquiry we do not wish to provide any interviews.

We wish to again make clear that, as Daughters of Charity, our values are totally against any form of abuse and thus, we offer our most sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse whilst in our care.

The Scottish Government said, as Smyllum is part of the inquiry, it would be inappropriate to comment.

Snyllum Park orphanage and children’s home was opened by the Poor Sisters of Charity after being gifted to them by a benefactor in 1864.

Persistent allegations of abuse at Smyllum and at other care institutes were the driving force in setting up the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, led by Lady Smith, which started hearings earlier this year.

A second phase of sessions starting at the end of November is expected to last four weeks and will investigate the care given by nuns at Smyllum and four other residential care establishments run by the Daughters of Charity.

Those include youngsters who went to the nearby St Charles’ Certified Institution in Carstairs.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

23 responses to “Nuns buried hundreds of children in unmarked graves”

  1. T says:

    One wonders how many more of these institutions have such secret burial sites. How many? 5% 10% 25% 75% 100%?
    Its a neat trick isnt it.
    Declare sex dirty and sinful.
    Declare contraception practically illegal.
    Declare unmarried mothers as mortally sinful and worthless.
    Steal their children.
    Give the poor kids to nuns.
    Use the poor kids as raw material for the “godly work” of saving their souls and indoctrination with mortal fear that if they ever complain as adults they will suffer gods wrath.
    Sell some of the kids to childless catholic couples in foreign countries. Well the money has to come from somewhere.
    Batter and abuse the rebelious kids with harsh physical and mental brutality to keep them in line. And its good fun to hit and beat godless ungrateful brats.
    Underfeed them, provide minimal medical care. Well costs have to be minimised.
    What to do with the ones that die from neglect, cold, malnutrition, disease and physical abuse? I know bury them secretly and don’t declare the deaths to the civil authorities lest they become suspicious of the high mortality rates and unusual causes of death.
    THIS IS DOING GOD’S GOOD WORK.
    That the RCC got away with this for so long, and still is, whilst declaring atheists as Not Fully Human, is a travesty of justice and a clear measure of the evil that is the RCC.

  2. T says:

    “We wish to again make clear that, as Daughters of Charity, our values are totally against any form of abuse and thus, we offer our most sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse whilst in our care”.
    Yeah right … lying bitches. I say we need to commandeer a few convents, convert them into secure prisons for incarceration of those guilty of committing or concealing this abhorrent abuse perpetrated by the rcc.

  3. Broga says:

    Pity the child who falls into the power of these nuns with the fancy dress, smirks to the camera and lies and posturing to a still gullible public. Meanwhile, their boss is strutting his stuff to the adoring millions.

    Is their need to be cruel to helpless children the result of a release from sexual repression? Their vicious and persistent cruelty seems so consistent wherever these Daughters of Charity (or some other bullshit title) get the chance to exercise their violence in private.

    The comments from the top religious leaders, or our Christian PM with her enthusiasm for tax funded faith schools seem muted or have I missed something?

  4. T says:

    Meanwhile another good catholic, and erswhile War Criminal, screeches in mid U Turn and makes outrageous specious claims and statements.
    Tony Blair defends call for EU migration curbs – BBC News
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41216679

  5. John the Drunkard says:

    And in the Tuam case, we STILL don’t have a forensic report. Not even a count of bodies in the main dumping ground. This decades after the missing dead were first discussed.

  6. Chuck Long says:

    The actions of the RCC just shows that their GOD is a total joke. God is love? Forget it!

  7. barriejohn says:

    The Roman Catholic Church is implacably opposed to abortion because of what they claim to be “respect for unborn human life”, yet they can callously toss hundreds (thousands?) of babies’ bodies into unmarked graves, all over the world no doubt, with no apparent pangs of conscience. You couldn’t make up this shit, could you?

    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/respect-for-unborn-human-life.cfm

  8. Italian Scallion says:

    Nuns are nothing more than a bunch of uncivilzed whores. Like I always say, “I have no use for religion of any kind because they are all “EVIL.”

  9. Broga says:

    Italian Scallion : I think some of these women become brides of Christ which makes him a bigamist. Included in the victims of the RC church should be many young women and men conned into throwing away what could be satisfying lives in pursuit of a chimera.

    There must be many, locked in by their church, who come to regret bitterly what they decided in their youth.

  10. T says:

    Sorry OT but:-
    A 33-year-old man is being treated in hospital after he was knifed at the New Jerusalem Apostolic Church, in Aston, at about 10:50 BST.

    Birmingham church stabbing leaves three hurt – BBC News
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-41219373

    The church said: “At this time we are restricting hospital visits to family only and we will keep you updated as regularly as possible.

    I say what fucking business is this of the church?

  11. Broga says:

    T says: The church feeds on tragedy. It is like a giant leech which fastens on to those stricken and offers, and asks for, prayers which have never been seen to have any effect. What it delights in is a mass for a famous person as it then can produce the total pantomime and get lots of publicity.

    What is amazing is that people still go along with this.

  12. Alba says:

    Once again its only Catholic Church that is highlighted by those hostile to it,when child abuse is covered up in the 2 million Protestant denominations and Government orphanages and homes.My relatives were in committee who raised funds for St Charles Carstairs.who spoke highly of the good works of the nuns.I spoke to one of the young ladies raised in this institution.She and other girls didn’t want to leave the nuns to outside world because of their kind upbringing.Abuse goes on everywhere that we are unaware of,not just by nuns.Even our parents teachers police abused us by belting us ,it was the norm before 1980s,which is deplored now.The nuns risk their lives attending to the poor and sick in famine war ridden countries.So don’t tar everyone with the one brush

  13. Ate Berga says:

    Utterly sad. What is that ghostly/ghastly figure wearing on her head?

  14. Stephen Mynett says:

    No tragedy is complete without some pontificating ponce spouting off to the media. A few years ago there was TV coverage of an earthquake from somewhere and a local priest or vicar was blabbing on about praying for the victims and all the usual garbage. I was watching it in a pub and the guy next to me at the bar made a very good point, he noted that in the background you could see a mass of people, army, police, locals etc trying to help with the rescue and that the only person doing nothing, so was available to be interviewed was the religionist.

  15. AgentCormac says:

    The best portrayal of a catholic nun I think I’ve ever seen has to be that of Sister Mary Stigmata – otherwise know as ‘The Penguin’- in the cult classic, ‘The Blues Brothers’. Evil bitch.

    https://media.giphy.com/media/l1KVb98OloqsUwlG0/giphy.gif

  16. barriejohn says:

    Ate Berga: The hat reminds me of those animals that have developed enormous but useless appendages merely for show, because I’m sure that that’s all it is. “Look at me, I’m VERY religious!”

  17. StephenJP says:

    @BarrieJohn (3.57pm): for the RCC, respect for life begins at conception and ends at birth.

    The website of the Daughters of Charity has a lot of pictures of nuns in wimples, and pious accounts of holy women doing their best for the poor children. But behind this facade will be the usual hard-faced (male) Vatican apparatchiks who are perpetuating this scam to ensure that as many unprotected children as possible are ensnared for the Faith.

    This has to stop.

  18. barriejohn says:

    StephenJP: for the RCC, respect for life begins at conception and ends at birth.

    That’s a good one!

    T: Would that be the Praying Mantis or the Preying Mantis? I’m never quite sure which is correct.

  19. barriejohn says:

    Alba: Theses are facts being reported here. If you have evidence of abuse elsewhere, then you are free to report that as well, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

  20. Broga says:

    barriejohn : And is it not a shabby, indeed desperate, argument for Alba to say, “but others are just as bad.” The RC church, regardless of what others have done, has a track record of claiming virtue and kindness while its clergy, protected by their church, abuse helpless children. Hypocrisy with the RC church is shameless.

    Whatever, help nuns given it is tarnished by their agenda of proselitising as their price. The behaviour of the grisly Mother Theresa is too well known here to bear repetition. Perhaps Alba should educate herself by reading Christopher Hitchens’ expose of the appalling Mother Theresa.

  21. Robster says:

    The Vatican outposts in the UK have built perhaps a huge excavation business, burying dead children. Hundreds and hundreds of dead potential Jesus munchers. Not a word from any of the various ultimately responsible popes.

  22. Stephen Mynett says:

    Alba’s post is fairly typical of the cowardly religionist approach to things like this, try to make out they are the victims and being singled out, whereas if Alba had read more or been honest he/she would have noted there have been many reports of abuse from other religions.

    As Barriejohn said, two wrongs do not make a right, although Alba seems to think so and I agree very much with Broga, the price of help, if any was given, was a forced conversion to Catholicism.

    Perhaps Alba would like to also note the efforts made by the church to cover up abuse and its failure in many cases to pay any sort of decent compensation.

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