#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 4°C Monday 18 January 2021
Advertisement

Here's what religious orders have said in response to the mother and baby homes report

The Taoiseach had urged religious organisations to come out and make apologies.

file-photo-taoiseach-micheal-martin-will-today-issue-an-apology-on-behalf-of-the-state-to-the-survivors-of-mother-and-baby-homes-end A previous vigil at Leinster House as part of the Justice for the Tuam Babies campaign. Source: RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN earlier today delivered a landmark apology to survivors of mother and baby homes

It comes following the publication of the report by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission following a five-year investigation. 

Yesterday, Martin had urged religious organisations to come out and make their own apologies. 

Some have done so, here are some selected quotes from what has been said so far. 

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland

As a Church leader today, I accept that the Church was clearly part of that culture in which people were frequently stigmatised, judged and rejected. For that, and for the long-lasting hurt and emotional distress that has resulted, I unreservedly apologise to the survivors and to all those who are personally impacted by the realities it uncovers. Mindful of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which calls us to protect life and dignity and to treat everyone – especially little children and all who are vulnerable  – with love, compassion and mercy, I believe the Church must continue to acknowledge before the Lord and before others its part in sustaining what the Report describes as a “harsh … cold and uncaring atmosphere”.

The Commission believes that there may be people with further information about burial places who have not come forward.  I appeal to anyone who can help to do so.  All burial grounds should be identified and appropriately marked so that the deceased and their families will be recognized and never be forgotten. 

(Full statement

Sisters of Bon Secours, which ran the Tuam mother and baby home

The Commission’s report presents a history of our country in which many women and children were rejected, silenced and excluded; in which they were subjected to hardship; and in which their inherent human dignity was disrespected, in life and in death. Our Sisters of Bon Secours were part of this sorrowful history. Our Sisters ran St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home in Tuam from 1925 to 1961.

We did not live up to our Christianity when running the Home. We failed to respect the inherent dignity of the women and children who came to the Home. We failed to offer them the compassion that they so badly needed. We were part of the system in which they suffered hardship, loneliness and terrible hurt. We acknowledge in particular that infants and children who died at the Home were buried in a disrespectful and unacceptable way. For all that, we are deeply sorry.

We offer our profound apologies to all the women and children of St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home, to their families and to the people of this country.

Healing is not possible until what happened is acknowledged. We hope and we pray that healing will come to all those affected; those who are living and those who have died. We hope that we, our church and our country can learn from this history.

Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which ran Bessborough, Sean Ross and Castlepollard mother and baby homes

We especially want to recognise and accept today that so many women who were shunned and shamed by society did not find the support and level of care they needed and deserved at such a dreadful and painful time in their lives. We welcome the announcement by An Taoiseach that he will be apologising tomorrow to all those who spent time in Mother and Baby Homes. For our part, we want to sincerely apologise to those who did not get the care and support they needed and deserved.

It is a matter of great sorrow to us that babies died while under our care. We sincerely regret that so many babies died particularly in regard to Bessborough in the 1940’s. We also want to recognise the dreadful suffering and loss experienced by mothers.

The burial of infants and children who died while in care has understandably become a matter of immense controversy. We are distressed and saddened that it is so difficult to prove with legal certainty where many of these infants were buried especially with regard to Bessborough. We did everything possible including the engagement of a professional historian to assist us in our dealings with the Commission on this vitally important matter.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

(Full statement)

Daughters of Charity, which ran the Pellstown mother and baby home in Dublin

We want to compliment Judge Murphy and her staff for this detailed and important report, which gives a clear picture of the attitude and reaction of Irish society to many women who became pregnant out of wedlock.
These women were isolated and shamed, without justification, and we hope that the publication of this report today will give a clearer and more complete picture of the entirety of the mother and baby homes issue in this country.

Many of our sisters dedicated their lives to supporting these women, who arrived at the service in which the sisters were employed to have their babies in secret, with little or no support from family and wider society. We so wish and deeply regret that we could not have done more to ease the burden and suffering carried by these women, mostly alone, as they dealt with both a major crisis in their lives and totally unjustifiable rejection.

Today, as this important report is published, our thoughts are for the thousands of women and children who suffered without justification or purpose in an Ireland that thankfully has changed forever.

Sisters of Mercy, which ran the Kilrush mother and baby home between 1922 and 1928

The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy welcomes the Report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission, published today. We were not required to attend before the Commission, but we did facilitate the Commission with access to our archives in the course of its work.As the report outlines, Sisters of Mercy provided staffing support at Stranorlar Co Donegal over the years 1899 to 1980, initially for its Board of Governors, and later on behalf of Donegal County Council. Sisters of Mercy also provided staffing support on behalf of Clare Public Health Board at ‘Kilrush Nursery’ Co Clare between 1922 and 1928.

Sisters of Mercy had no trustee roles in either of these public institutions and have not at any time held personal records in respect of persons who were resident in them.

We take this opportunity to acknowledge that many women were so wrongly shunned and shamed by Irish society because they were pregnant out of wedlock. We welcome this Commission’s Report as it shines a light on a very dark period in our country’s history. Our thoughts are with these women and their children today. 

Archbishop Michael Neary, Bishop of Tuam

The Church of Jesus Christ was intended to bring hope and healing, yet it brought harm and hurt for many of these women and children.

Many were left broken, betrayed and disillusioned. For them, and all of us, these revelations seriously tarnished the image of the Church. The delight and joy which we associate with the birth of a new baby instead became clouded with darkness and gloom.

This was a time when single pregnant women and their children were labelled as “unmarried mothers” and “illegitimate”, and then judged, stigmatised, and ostracised by their own families, by their communities, and the Church.

These attitudes were wrong and very sad.  The Church failed in its responsibility to love and cherish those who were thus diminished.  What this Report makes clear to me is that when the Church is not serving with compassion, it is failing.  For that I am genuinely sorry. As a Church leader I apologise unreservedly.

(Full statement

Bishop Fintan Gavin, Bishop of Cork and Ross

I believe that it is only in acknowledging the truth of this reality and the hurt and pain experienced that we can begin the journey of healing. I thank Judge Yvonne Murphy and the Commission staff for this clear and comprehensive report. They have done a great service to society and to the Church in helping us to know the truth about our past.As the former residents and their children try and piece together their personal history, I am aware that some of that information is contained in church baptism records. I appeal to our legislators to find ways so that birth and baptism record information can be legally shared with compassion and sensitivity with those to whom it rightly belongs – while taking into account the complexities and challenges involved.

Today I am reminded of the powerful words of Pope Francis in the Phoenix Park on his visit to Ireland in 2018. I, too, want to say sorry and ask forgiveness.

(Full statement

Archbishop-elect of Dublin Dermot Farrell

The silence which surrounded this shameful time in the history of our land had long needed to be shattered. The pain of those who were hidden away must be heard; those once largely without a voice now can speak clearly to our world, and we need to listen, even when what we hear pierces to the heart.I welcome, therefore, the actions of our Government and of the Commission that has made this possible. These voices must be heard, but hearing, while important, is not enough. The grievous failures of our past have been laid bare. A genuine response is required: ours – as a Church and a society – can only be a full apology, without any reservation.

There should never have been a time for avoidance and facile solutions. This country, the Church, our communities and families are better places when the light of truth and healing are welcomed. May the Lord’s compassion be the touchstone of our response. May the light of Christ bring healing to all.

(Full statement) 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

Read next:

COMMENTS (57)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel