Pray for Our Sinners @ TIFF

It will come to no one’s surprise when I say that Ireland is a largely Roman Catholic country. Common knowledge that. They have not hidden that. What has been hidden for years and years and decades and decades is what was done to women in that country. All in the name of God. Atrocities. Many of them. Women were abused and babies were secretly buried.

At places like the Magdalene Laundries unwed women who found themselves pregnant were sent. Instead of finding help there, they were abused. Then they gave birth to babies who were killed and buried on the grounds. Things were done and secrets were kept. No one wanted to address what was happening. This went on for years and years. Plus, it did not only happen at the Magdalene Laundries as there were other places like it. So much horror. So much death. So much trauma. Lasting all the way up until 1998.

All this was finally revealed last year in a report commissioned by the Irish government. Things were brought to light. The report uncovered that 9,000 babies ended up dead. Somewhere. Some way. Buried in septic tanks. Sold for medical experiments. Sold like pieces of property to desperate Americans who wanted children. All this happened due to the collective power of the Catholic Church and Irish government. They made it happen and then covered it up for decades.

But the documentary is not all horror, Director Sinead O’Shea uses her hometown of Navan in County Meath to spread some light. She shows that the people there did mount a resistance to what went on. Several women who actually stood up and called out what was happening are shown to be the heroes there were and are.

Hard topics are discussed here. Things most the time people just repress, hide away and don’t talk about. Here they are provided a safe space. Somewhere they tell stories they have not ever. Unburden themselves after many years.

Besides these interviews we learn plenty about the power of the Catholic Church. The hold it had over the people. A very high percentage of Irish people. That they believed that Catholic priests were instruments of God on Earth. So you can almost understand how they were able to convince families to give up their “sinful” daughters. Turn them over the the Church. Abandon them in shame. Once they had these young girls they were able to do whatever they wanted to them. Physically and emotionally abuse them. Without mercy.

The cover up is shattered here. Those who for decades and decades were silenced are now given a voice. Even from beyond the grave. Hopefully the dialogue, reckoning and healing is just beginning.