EAMON Martin, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, has ‘unreservedly’ apologised to the survivors of mother and baby homes.
Archbishop Martin’s apology comes after the publication of the report from the Mother and Baby Homes Commission.
He acknowledged that the Catholic Church was ‘clearly part of that culture in which people were frequently stigmatized, 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,” he said in a statement
“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 harrowing report details how 57,000 children were born in mother and baby homes until they were closed in 1998. Shockingly, 9,000 died while in their care.
The major report details the treatment of women who gave birth outside marriage and their children during a “dark, difficult and shameful” chapter of Irish history, as described by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Records and practices of 14 mother and baby homes and four “county homes”, a fraction of the entire number of these institutions, are included.
Archbishop Martin said: “Above all we must continue to find ways of reaching out to those whose personal testimonies are central to this Report.
“They have shown determination in bringing to light this dark chapter in the life of Church and society.
“We owe it to them to take time to study and reflect on the findings and recommendations of the Report, and commit to doing what we can to help and support them.
“The Report makes it clear that many are still learning about their personal stories and searching for family members.
“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.”
Later today, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin will issue a State apology in the Dáil and is expected to call on religious orders to make a financial contribution to a survivors’ redress scheme.