Father Gerry Young made the Tuam Home comments during a live YouTube discussion with former journalist Gemma O’Doherty
Father Gerry Young, an Irish curate, said during a live YouTube discussion with former Irish journalist Gemma O’Doherty that he does not "believe" the Tuam Mother and Baby Home "narrative."
Father Young, who is based in Co Wicklow, told O’Doherty on July 12: “I have to admit, from the word go, I didn’t believe the story.
“I happened to have done a bit of study on how the church buried people. As soon as I heard this story about all the little bodies wrapped up and on shelving, I thought, ‘Catacombs.’ "
"We’ve always kept our dead with us. We've respected the burial place because we are awaiting the resurrection."
He adds: “There’s a whole generation of elitists in our country who clearly know nothing about the Catholic faith, about its depth and its refinement, and its history, how things evolved. People were ready to accept anything they were told — ‘the narrative’, as they call it."
The Times reports that Young was responding to O’Doherty's claim that the mass grave of nearly 800 babies at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Co Galway is “a hoax" devised to "bring about the destruction of the Catholic faith."
O'Doherty tweeted a link of her live discussion with Father Young on July 12:
In her video, which has since been deleted but has been shared on other users' accounts, O’Doherty claimed the Tuam site was not an unmarked grave and that Galway county council had “bulldozed away” headstones that had been there.
Father Young goes on to discuss his"first appointment" as a priest in 1969 to a home for unwed mothers that he said was kept "very well."
While listening to the girls' stories and confessions, Father Young says he "formed the impression that they fell foul of sexuality ... because they had a poor image of a man, either their boyfriends or their fathers."
“The nuns were very wise,” Young said. “They said, ‘Father, the men that come in with the bouquet of flowers and the box of chocolates for the girl, they’re the married ones. The single ones who may be required to marry them hardly come in at all.’
"So there’s another side to this story that they were poor victims. Yeah, they were victims. They’re victims of not being formed in a grouping like a family or a parish for proper sexual understanding, and they allowed themselves to be carried away.”
Father Young recounts how he was shown a "special unit" in the home where babies were being kept because "the mothers couldn't decide what to do with them.
"Maybe they had genuine reasons or maybe they were just being awkward.”
Young says he asked a nun why some of the babies appeared to be "rocking themselves" in the unit. "‘Oh,’ she said, ‘they’re rocking themselves to replace the rocking the mother should do to the child.’"
"So," he concludes, "I think we should be very hesitant about condemning people and judging them in the care that they were given."
Who is Gemma O'Doherty?
Father Young was speaking in the video with Gemma O'Doherty, who The Irish Times describes as a freelance journalist, adding that she stood as an Independent candidate in the recent European elections where she secured 1.8 percent of first preference votes. She also unsuccessfully sought a nomination to stand in last year’s presidential election in Ireland.
On July 16, The Irish Times reported that YouTube opted to suspend O’Doherty’s account after accusing her of hate speech in a video about ethnic minorities. When O’Doherty allegedly circumvented the suspension by uploading videos to a backup account, YouTube chose to permanently remove her from the platform.
A spokesperson told The Irish Times: “All users agree to comply with our terms of service and community guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube.
“When users violate these policies repeatedly, such as our policies against hate speech and harassment, or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.”
Catherine Corless responds
The Tuam Mother and Baby Home story made national headlines in Ireland in 2014 when amateur historian Catherine Corless revealed that she had found nearly 800 death certificates of children at the home from between 1925 and 1961, but no corresponding burial records.
An unmarked mass grave was later found at the Galway site.
Responding to Father Young's comments, Corless told The Times that there had been headstones on a nearby Famine burial site, but “there were no headstones ever over the sewage tanks where the babies are now.
“The commission of inquiry and the government have declared the Tuam babies were indeed interred in a sewage tank, even providing evidence in photographs, albeit redacting the image of the little remains.
"These [photos] indicated remnants of excrement on the walls of the tank, evidence of sewage pipes in the chambers where the babies lie, evidence of rodents gnawing on bones. Yet, even at this stage, a Catholic priest would call this sewage tank a catacomb?”
Corless said she was unsure how to respond to Young’s characterization of unmarried mothers: “Words fail me, but these words come to mind: misinformed, mind-boggling and blaming women once again."
What do you make of Father Young's and Gemma O'Doherty's comments? Let us know in the comments