DUBLIN: The Catholic Church has “unreservedly” apologised to the people and survivors of Ireland for the atrocities at mother and baby homes. Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, the head of the Irish Catholic Church, has expressed his heartfelt condolences following the shocking revelations in the investigation report.
The Archbishop said the Church should acknowledge fostering what the report described as a harsh, cold and uncaring atmosphere. “As a Church leader today, I accept that the Church was clearly part of that culture in which people were frequently stigmatized, judged and rejected,” he said.
“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. All leaders of the Irish Catholic Church should study this lengthy report carefully and “spend time reflecting on the courageous testimonies of the witnesses,” the senior cleric added.
The rights of all survivors must be protected and respected. The Archbishop also urged the State to remove “remaining obstacles”. “The report makes it clear that many are still learning about their personal stories and searching for family members,” he said.
“The rights of all survivors to access personal information about themselves should be fully respected and I again urge the State to ensure that any remaining obstacles to information and tracing should be overcome.”
“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 recognised and never be forgotten,” Archbishop said.
“The commission’s report helps to further open to the light what was for many years a hidden part of our shared history and it exposes the culture of isolation, secrecy and social ostracising which faced ‘unmarried mothers’ and their children in this country.”
“I commend those who have fought to have this story told and I thank those who have already been supporting survivors through various organisations and providing a platform for their voices to be heard,” Archbishop Martin said.
The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary also responded that it was “a matter of great sorrow” that babies had died while under their care.
At the same time, many survivors came out against the report. Today, the Taoiseach is expected to apologize to the country and the victims.
The Irish First Mothers Group has criticised the fact that the report absolved both the Church and the State of any systemic responsibility. Some groups also criticized the report’s failure to condemn forced adoption as a major setback.
Meanwhile, a new webpage has been set up specifically for ex-residents of Mother & Baby Homes. HSE’s mental health support is also available to former residents.