Don’t scapegoat Church over homes: Irish Archbishop

Baby shoes hang on a wall at a cemetery in Tuam, Ireland, where the bodies of nearly 800 infants were uncovered at the site of a former Catholic home for unmarried mothers and their children (CNS/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters)

The Primate of All Ireland says the Church shouldn’t be scapegoated for the dire conditions in the country’s mother-and-baby homes in the 20th century. Source: Crux.

Armagh Archbishop Eamon Martin was speaking to This Week, a program on Irish state broadcaster RTÉ.

“[Religious congregations] were commissioned by the State and local authorities, county councils and expected to intervene when the rest of society had basically banished these mothers. They found themselves in the frontline,” Archbishop Martin said, noting that the homes were subject to inspection by state authorities.

The archbishop was speaking about the Mother and Baby Homes Report issued last week. The report looked into the state-funded homes for unwed mothers and their children run by Catholic religious orders, where around 9,000 children died, usually due to the quick spread of disease in the crowded facilities.

The report reviewed conditions in 18 institutions from 1922 to 1998, and was commissioned by the government after reports on the deaths of around 800 infants at a home run by the Bon Secours Sisters in the Archdiocese of Tuam. It found that in some years in the 1930s and 1940s, over 40 per cent of the children in mother and baby homes were dying before their first birthday.

“As soon as women and children went into these places, society didn’t seem to want to know any more, be they living or dead. If it’s just, proportionate and if it’s in account of the findings of the commission, I do feel the Church needs to do reparation for this. I accept that,” he said.

Archbishop Martin said he expected the religious orders to do their part financially.


Irish archbishop: Don’t scapegoat Church on mother-and-baby homes (By Charles Collins, Crux

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