The head of the Irish Catholic Church offered his wholehearted apologies to the victims of the Church-run homes following the release of a damning investigation on Tuesday and praised them for bringing to light “a dark chapter in the life of the Church and of society “.
“I accept that the Church was clearly part of this culture in which people were frequently stigmatized, judged and rejected,” Archbishop Eamon Martin said in a statement after the report discovered that thousands of children were died in the homes of single mothers and their descendants. From the 1920s to the 1990s.
“For this, and for the long-lasting emotional suffering and distress that resulted from it, I offer my wholehearted apologies to the survivors and to all who are personally touched by the realities he reveals,” said Martin.
Homes run by the Roman Catholic Church had “appalling” death rates that reflected brutal living conditions, according to the report.
The investigation, which covered 18 so-called mothers and babies homes where for decades young pregnant women have been hidden from society, is the latest in a series of government-commissioned investigations that have exposed some of the chapters the darkest of the Catholic Church.
About 9,000 children have died in all, according to Tuesday’s report – a death rate of 15%. The proportion of children who died before their first birthday in a house in Bessborough, County Cork, reached 75% in 1943.
The infants were taken from mothers and sent overseas for adoption. The children were vaccinated without consent.
Anonymous testimonies from residents compared institutions to prisons where they were verbally abused by nuns as “sinners” and “offspring of Satan.” The women suffered from traumatic labor without any pain relief.
One of them spoke of “screaming women, a woman who had lost her mind and a room with small white coffins”.
Relatives have alleged the babies were abused because they were born to single mothers who, like their children, were seen as a stain on the Republic of Ireland’s image as a pious Catholic nation. The investigation found that those admitted included girls as young as 12 years old.
Government records show that the child mortality rate in homes where 56,000 women and girls, including rape and incest victims, were sent to give birth, was often more than five times that of those born. of married parents.
“The report makes it clear that for decades Ireland has had a stifling, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture, where widespread stigma against single mothers and their children has deprived these people of their agency and sometimes their future,” said Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman.
Prime Minister Micheal Martin will issue a formal apology to those affected by the scandal in Parliament this week for what he has described as “a dark, difficult and shameful chapter in very recent Irish history”.
The government said it would provide financial compensation and advance long-promised laws to search some of the remains and give residents, including many adoptees, better access to personal information that has long been beyond their reach.
(TBEN with REUTERS)