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Spain: Catholic hospitals stole and sold babies

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Spain: Catholic hospitals stole and sold babies

Postby kurt_w » Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:08 am

Spain is in an uproar over news that, for decades, the Catholic Church was stealing and selling newborn babies.

The practice began in the 1930s during the right-wing Franco dictatorship, but continued at least through the 1990s. In Spain, the Catholic Church is heavily involved in running hospitals and providing social services.

In 1971 Manoli, who was 23 at the time and not long married, gave birth to what she was told was a healthy baby boy, but he was immediately taken away for what were called routine tests.

Nine interminable hours passed. "Then, a nun, who was also a nurse, coldly informed me that my baby had died," she says.

They would not let her have her son's body, nor would they tell her when the funeral would be. [...]

A Spanish magazine published photographs of a dead baby kept in a freezer at the San Ramon clinic, supposedly to show mothers that their child had died. [...]

Babies' graves have been dug up across the country for DNA-testing. Some have revealed nothing but a pile of stones, while others have contained adult remains.


Pretty appalling. Obviously, this is an extreme case. But it's a reminder of how dangerous it is to let any group operate without public scrutiny and oversight -- particularly a religious institution that people have been trained from childhood to never question.

---------------------------------------------

Thread title edited to reflect uncertainty about the number of cases.
Last edited by kurt_w on Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 300,000 stolen babies in Spain

Postby Michael Patrick » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:20 am

That's preposterous. Next you're going to try to tell me that the Catholic Church would hide child molesters in its midst...
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Re: 300,000 stolen babies in Spain

Postby Bludgeon » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:58 pm

kurt_w wrote:...but it's a reminder of how dangerous it is to let any group operate without public scrutiny and oversight...

After years of resistance, I have just started reading 1984 - much better than and absolutely nothing like the way it has been described in popular culture but I tell you this sentence of yours could have been plucked right out of it.

Yeah, yeah, we should have them scrutinized -- watched over, say. We should 'keep an eye on them.' Yeah, yeah, they can't be trusted, see, maybe if everyone in the world were kept under constant surveilance where their actions could be monitored at all times, by jove...

Seriously, it needs to be said: there is almost nothing to back almost 100% of these allegations up but a series of random instances and rampant insinuations - it smacks of hungry lawyer-fish. You can make up anything you want about dead people. I say they didn't just steal 300,000 babies - I say they also stole $300 million dollars... which they owe me for collateral damages, for some alleged thing that supposedly happened a super long time ago and if everybody wasn't dead I would totally be able to prove it, yeah, so they better pay me or I will get lawyers and run them through the rails in public.

What doctors? What nuns? What children? What parents? Three hundred thousand they say? That is lawyer talk for give us a lot of money. Time to move to Spain and retire by suing the church (after all I missed out on my chance to move to the gulf coast and sue BP for the $20 billion they coughed up). With money as a reward you can string this or any story together and find hundreds of people who want free money to be a plaintiff, from lawsuits that are going on.
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Church implicated in stealing babies in Spain

Postby kurt_w » Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:54 am

Bludgeon wrote:
kurt_w wrote:...but it's a reminder of how dangerous it is to let any group operate without public scrutiny and oversight...

After years of resistance, I have just started reading 1984 - much better than and absolutely nothing like the way it has been described in popular culture but I tell you this sentence of yours could have been plucked right out of it.


Good for you. You don't seem to be getting the book's point, though, as evidenced by your next paragraph:

Yeah, yeah, we should have them scrutinized -- watched over, say. We should 'keep an eye on them.' Yeah, yeah, they can't be trusted, see, maybe if everyone in the world were kept under constant surveilance where their actions could be monitored at all times, by jove...


That's so far removed from my comment that it's not even in the same universe. Your misappropriation of 1984 probably has Orwell spinning in his grave.

Let's recap: the Franco regime was a dictatorship, like a very weak-tea version of the regimes in 1984. The Catholic Church in Franco's Spain likewise was a more or less unquestionable, unchallengable authority.

My point was that unquestionable, unchallengable authorities are dangerous. The ability of ordinary citizens to investigate and question the doings of powerful authorities -- be they governments or state-established religious hierarchies -- is essential to a free society and is the best possible guard against abuses of power by those authorities.

This is the complete opposite of your implication. I'm not remotely referring to the use of surveillance by the authorities to control the public. If you can't understand the difference between citizens' oversight of government and other powerful institutions, vs. government's surveillance of its own citizens, you probably ought to be starting your reading program with something a bit simpler than 1984.

Seriously, it needs to be said: there is almost nothing to back almost 100% of these allegations up but a series of random instances and rampant insinuations [...]


There's quite a bit of evidence, though the exact number of cases is certainly speculative. (I will edit the title of this thread to better reflect the uncertainty about numbers.) Here's a brief summary (from Lisa Abend's story in Time):

There appear to be two distinct phases of baby theft that occurred in Spain during the 20th century. The first, which was not only approved by dictator Francisco Franco but also promoted by his government as a means of "improving" the Spanish "race," was politically inspired. [...] "The state considered these children [of dissidents] in need of re-education," says University of Barcelona historian Ricard Vinyes, who has written a book on the subject. "It was actually proud of these efforts and would publish the results of how many children had been 'welcomed' annually."

Based on the documentation he has uncovered, Vinyes estimates that tens of thousands of children were taken from their parents during a campaign that lasted until the end of the 1940s.


Then, once the political/ideological motive for stealing babies began to subside, a new set of motives appeared: financial and spiritual. Catholic hospitals could take babies from women they perceived to be spiritually unfit -- unwed mothers, irreligious mothers -- and sell them to "good" families that wanted to adopt. In the eyes of those who were involved in this scheme, it was good for everyone: the babies would be raised by "better" parents, the most "deserving" families would get to adopt children, and the hospitals would get a new source of income:

In what appear to be thousands of cases throughout Spain, individual doctors and nurses — many of the latter nuns — took newborns from obstetric wards and sold them to prospective adopted parents. That's the claim by victims who, in many cases, can support their theory with death certificates that have clearly been falsified or cemetery documents that contradict what parents were told at the supposed time of death [...]

In each case, the woman gave birth to what she believed to be a healthy child, only to later be told that the infant had died and that it was impossible to see the body. Those babies were then allegedly sold to couples who paid, on average, the equivalent of $8,000. And the people accused of doing the selling are in many cases the very doctors and nurses who had delivered the babies. This is according to testimony given to lawyers and journalists by people who unwittingly bought the babies — many were told the charges were to cover the mother's expenses. [...]


There are government records from the Franco years, clearly falsified paperwork from hospitals and cemeteries, sworn testimony by unwitting adoptive parents, large numbers of suspicious sets of paperwork all signed by the same doctors, even a gravedigger who told prosecutors that he was ordered to bury "hundreds" of empty baby-sized coffins over a decade. There's at least one case where DNA shows that a supposedly "dead" infant was perfectly healthy and was sold to another family. The Spanish government has recently established a program for more widespread DNA tests, though it will be difficult to find matches except in the relatively rare cases where there is a prior indication of which mothers and which children were the likely victims so as to establish who ought to be tested.

And, to bring this back to my comment about the dangers of putting authorities -- be they dictators or bishops -- above question, here's the closing quote from an (excellent) NY Times story about the investigations:

During the Franco regime and in its immediate aftermath, “you simply didn’t challenge what an official told you,” said María Luisa Puro Rodríguez, a former tobacco factory worker who claims that her newborn was abducted in 1976 from a Malaga hospital. “We now thankfully live in a society where it is normal to question what we hear,” she said. “I’ve learned this bitter lesson and am now ready to fight all the way to find out what actually happened.”
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Re: Spain: Catholic hospitals stole and sold babies

Postby snoqueen » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:31 am

from Bludgeon:
Yeah, yeah, we should have them scrutinized -- watched over, say. We should 'keep an eye on them.' Yeah, yeah, they can't be trusted, see, maybe if everyone in the world were kept under constant surveilance where their actions could be monitored at all times, by jove...

Seriously, it needs to be said: there is almost nothing to back almost 100% of these allegations up but a series of random instances and rampant insinuations - it smacks of hungry lawyer-fish.


I had to read your whole posting over several times to figure out how you supposedly read 1984 and twisted the whole thing around so you got exactly the opposite point Orwell was trying to make. I think the above quote is the crux of it.

Some people have learned (the hard way, usually) to question and even doubt big authority and others are more comfortable to unquestioningly accept bigger authority and ignore the smaller authority of the peons underneath. You're in the "ignore the peons" group. (The "who will watch the watchers...?" quote is only too obvious here.)

I wonder about people's truth references when I hear or read someone else's thoughts on matters that seem to me quite obvious. I did it when, in another thread, I posted a link to a local journalist's account of the Edgewater/previous mayor's office entanglement and the person who replied picked out of it the two quotes that made the Edgewater opponents look dumbest. They were pretty bad examples of political thinking (quotes from Konkel and Subeck) but they were hardly the substance of the article, which was that instead of supporting established city process (which has historically brought us pretty decent development outcomes) the mayor's office at every turn tried to subvert it or predetermine the Edgewater results in a manner not statesmanlike but Chicago-style.

Conclusions: people see what they want to see when reading, whether it's 1984 or the news; and some people (like you) naturally gravitate toward authority's version of reality, be it the thoroughly discredited Catholic church or a political party, news outlet, or organization.

We all have to look to authorities to some extent because nobody's omniscient, so it's the quality of the authorities that makes the difference -- not the power, size, or volume. And the Catholic church has been, in this regard, abysmal to horrifying. Check out Ireland if Spain doesn't do it for ya. And if that doesn't work, look into some of its activities in the US. I see a most unsavory, self-protective, and creepy record.
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Re: Spain: Catholic hospitals stole and sold babies

Postby Marvell » Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:25 pm

As I've noted before, a bludgeon is a blunt tool.

Take that how you will.
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