A Catholic archbishop said on Sunday that religious orders should not be scapegoated for the failures exposed by a report on Ireland’s mother-and-baby homes.
“I would be disappointed if we were, having read the commission’s report, to scapegoat the religious congregations,” said Martin, the archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
“They were commissioned by the state, and by local authorities and county councils. They were expected to intervene when the rest of society had basically banished these mothers and their unborn children and infants.”
“They too were Irish women who answered a call to serve. And they found themselves kind of on the front line of this.”
The 2,800-page report was issued on Jan. 12 following a six-year inquiry into the treatment of around 56,000 women and girls at mother-and-baby homes and four county homes in Ireland between 1922 and 1998.
Mother-and-baby homes were generally run by religious orders, with government assistance and under the authority of the local bishop, while county homes were overseen by the state.
The institutions housed women who became pregnant outside of wedlock. About 57,000 babies were born in the homes over the 76-year period examined by the commission. There was a significant mortality rate, with 15% of babies dying before they left the homes. Some 200 women who gave birth died while living at mother-and-baby homes.
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