Archbishop ’embarrassed’ over role of church in mother and baby homes scandal
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 27/01/2021
The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said he feels “embarrassed and guilty” over the “dark chapter” of the mother and baby homes scandal.
Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, issued a statement after the publication of the report on Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene laundries in Northern Ireland.
The research revealed victims of rape and incest were put in facilities for unmarried mothers and their children.
Archbishop Martin said: “As a Catholic church leader in Ireland it is I who now feel embarrassed and guilty over the way in which we in the church contributed to, and bolstered, that culture of concealment, condemnation, and self-righteousness.
“For that I am truly sorry and ask the forgiveness of survivors. How did we so obscure the love and mercy and compassion of Christ which is at the very heart of the Gospel? Shame on us.
“The persistence and the powerful testimonies of these same courageous survivors has lifted the lid on this dark chapter of our shared history and exposed our hypocrisy to the glaring light.”
Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell said: “I acknowledge with shame that members of the Church of Ireland stigmatised women and children in a way which was very far removed from Christian principles and which resulted in an unloving, cold and judgmental attitude towards pregnant women who deserved better.”
Apologies have also been issued by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
It follows research undertaken by a team of academics from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.
Their report features claims from women that they were subjected to labour such as scrubbing floors during the final stages of pregnancy and were described as “fallen” and stigmatised.
Some survivors are hoping for a speedy public inquiry, but there are concerns surrounding the impact on some who suffered life-changing trauma of giving evidence.
More than 10,500 women and girls entered mother and baby homes over a 68-year period from 1922.
Northern Ireland First Minister, Arlene Foster, pledged the voices of survivors would be heard “loudly and clearly”.
She added: “It is with huge regret that we acknowledge the pain of those experiences and the hurt caused to women and girls who did nothing more than be pregnant outside of marriage, some of them criminally against their will.”
A “victim-centred” independent investigation was ordered by Stormont ministers and should be completed within six months.
© Sky News 2020