Yes, because whenever you visit the Chantry you can’t go five feet without stepping on an orphan - oh wait, that’s right, there’s like five people in the Chantry max at any one time. They either packed away the orphans in the basement or you’re grasping for reasons to justify a corrupt institution. Whatever helps you sleep, I guess.
Or there’s story/gameplay segregation. There are parts of the chantry Hawke can’t go into, and it is stated in game that the chantry helps orphans, including Fereldan ones, when nobody else will, to at least some extent.
ETA: What I mean is, you don’t need to erase the good the Chantry did to argue it was corrupt.
So where was the good, wonderful, loving chantry for the precious little orphans when Evangelina was trying to get them help?
As far as I know, the only orphan the Kirkwall Chantry is shown to have taken in is Sebastian, who’s as politically convenient an orphan as they come.
That’s not to say there aren’t other orphans in other parts of the building that we don’t get to see; or that other Chantries in other towns/countries aren’t more charitable… but yes, where was Elthina when Evelina was trying to save all those Fereldan kids? And why are there so many parentless children wandering around Darktown—but not in Hightown?
I thought it was a very subtle and very clever hint as to exactly what kind of charity the Kirkwall Chantry is interested in — the kind that looks good to the people with money; the kind that can be used to its own advantage.
Because that’s how Elthina rolls, baby.
My desire to push Elthina out of a high window stems less from the fact that I think she’s purposefully malevolent or greedy or callous — quite the opposite, actually. I think she’s an extremely kind woman of strong faith, not a hypocrite at all (though she is blind to the hypocrisies of her organization). And that would be awesome except for the fact that she’s the fucking Grand Cleric of the Free Marches. Seriously, how did Elthina even get this job anyway? It’s like wondering how Marlowe managed to wrangle his way into the Viscount’s seat and then promptly forgot how to not suck at political maneuvering. At least if she was power hungry and evil she might have some base level of competency. I think her faith is great, I think “Death is never justice” is a good rule to live by, but the Chantry in Thedas is a political institution more so than it is a religious one, and she utterly fails in her capacity as a political leader.
So to the orphans thing, I think it’s exactly the kind of thing Elthina would do, focusing on treating a symptom of societal malaise and refusing to acknowledge that she has the political power to maybe get at some of the causes, because she prefers to think that if you yourself do your best to be a good person, the Maker will take care of everything else. That’s a noble and brave thing to believe, but it’s not very practical, especially when you’re a leader of the most powerful political organization in Thedas.
I have no doubt that there were a bunch of orphans running around the Chantry somewhere. We don’t see them for the same reason as Gamlen’s hovel is right next to the Hanged Man is right next to the alienage and there’s only one cave in the entirety of Kirkwall and and Isabela won’t stop telling me about the amazing hat shop she found in Lowtown even three years after the first time she mentioned it. Or why there are never services in the Chantry, for that matter. As to why it doesn’t help everyone, it’s a matter of scale on the part of the Chantry and pride and distrust on part of the citizens, which is the sort of thing you can see today in matters charity programs. Where I live, for example, you see a lot of homeless people sleeping in the streets when there’s an open shelter not a block away, and the reasons for that are complicated and valid but they don’t have to do with the shelters not being interested in helping the desperate.
Basically, the knee-jerk reaction of ‘oh, well we only ever see like five people in there and they’re all members of the Chantry anyway’ in defense of Anders really bothers me. Even if there weren’t any orphans in there, even if there were just those five people, they were people and it was a shitty and terrible thing to do. I guess the trouble with a video game is that it trains us to kill the mooks because they are mooks and their sole purpose is to be killed, and then you get all these delineations like ‘oh well if he killed orphans that’s worse than killing just a few sisters’, and while a Hawke might think that because that’s the world they live in, it’s not a position that I myself am morally comfortable taking. Besides that, it’s a disservice to the incredibly complex world the developers have created to paint any one institution (or character, for that matter) as purely bad or good, corrupt or righteous.
My last post on the matter, but. THIS. THIS. THIS FOREVER.
Somethingbloomingsometime, I love you. I love you deeply. May we be friends?