The Associated Press reported this year that a mass grave containing the remains of some 800 orphans had been discovered in Ireland near a former Catholic-owned home for children of unwed mothers, raising serious questions about the Church and child neglect in that country.
The report alleged mismanagement, abuse and a careful coverup.
However, it turns out that much of the AP story, with its outlandish claim that the Church’s official practice at the time was to deny bastard children baptism, is a heaping pile of smoldering nonsense.
Yes, according to a correction published this weekend, the AP's The-Irish-Catholic-Church-Hates-Babies report has an impressive number of inaccuracies.
From the AP:
In stories published June 3 and June 8 about young children buried in unmarked graves after dying at a former Irish orphanage for the children of unwed mothers, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptized. The AP also incorrectly reported that Catholic teaching at the time was to deny baptism and Christian burial to the children of unwed mothers; although that may have occurred in practice at times it was not church teaching. In addition, in the June 3 story, the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the tank contains, if any. The June 3 story also contained an incorrect reference to the year that the orphanage opened; it was 1925, not 1926.
Okay, so what we do know is that there is a place called “Ireland” and its population includes children. That much is accurate.
It would appear that the only thing the AP didn't screw up in its initial report was the author’s name (and we’re not even sure of that).
But seriously, the AP did the public and the Catholic Church in Ireland a major disservice.
The AP undoubtedly duped thousands of readers – readers who likely won’t notice the little-publicized correction – into thinking that a handful of Irish nuns behaved like monsters.
The narrative of child neglect and cruelty will stick, despite the story’s numerous inaccuracies, and it’ll likely stay that way as activist groups in the Emerald Isle increase their efforts to pull the Church to the left.
Top-notch work, AP.