THE MINISTER FOR Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has revealed what she said to Pope Francis when she met him at Aras an Uachtarain on Saturday.
Speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1 Minister Zappone said she spoke to Pope Francis in Italian and told him that she is responsible for the Tuam Mother and Baby Home where the remains of children were found in a sewage system.
“I hope the church will make reparations for its part in this shameful chapter. It is important and I will write to you in detail,” she said.
The minister said that the Pope responded to her in English and thanked her for her words.
During a speech at Dublin Castle after meeting the minister, Pope Francis broke from his prepared script to refer to his meeting with Zappone.
“I thanked her, up to the point she touched my heart. This is why I wanted to repeat it afterwards,” he said.
Speaking to reporters on his flight back to Rome, the Pope said that he will study a memorandum provided by the Children’s minister on the issue of mother and baby homes.
He said Zappone told him that authorities “found mass graves of children, buried children”.
“She told me, and she was brief: ‘Holy Father, we found mass graves of children, buried children, we’re investigating… and the Church has something to do with this.’ But she said it very politely and truly with a lot of respect. I thanked her to the point that this had touched my heart,” Pope Francis said.
Hundreds of people gathered in Tuam yesterday for a vigil at the site of the former Bon Secours home where 796 children are known to have died.
In March 2017 the Commission into Mother and Baby Homes confirmed that a “significant” number of human remains were discovered at the site of the former church-run home for unwed mothers. Scientific analysis put the age of death between 35 foetal weeks and two to three years.