On the second day of its Summer General Meeting, June 10, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference published the following statement welcoming the announcement by Government of a Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes:
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We welcome the announcement today of a statutory Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland.
The harrowing story which is continuing to emerge of life and death in Mother and Baby homes has shocked the people of Ireland. It is disturbing that the residents of these Homes suffered disproportionately high levels of mortality and malnutrition, disease and destitution.
Sadly we are being reminded of a time when unmarried mothers were often judged, stigmatised and rejected by society, including the Church. This culture of isolation and social ostracising was harsh and unforgiving. The Gospel calls us to treat everyone, particularly children and the most vulnerable, with dignity, love, compassion and mercy. We must ensure that all children and their mothers always feel wanted, welcomed and loved. Mindful of the words of Jesus, ‘Let the little children come to me, because it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs’, we apologise for hurt caused by the Church as part of this system.
It is important that the Commission, and all of us, approach these matters with compassion, determination and objectivity. We need to find out more about what this period in our social history was really like and to consider the legacy it has left us as a people. Above all we need to enable those who were directly affected to receive recognition and appropriate support. We therefore welcome the Government’s intention that the Commission of Investigation will have the necessary legal authority to examine all aspects of life in the Homes. The Investigation should inquire into how these Homes were funded and, crucially, how adoptions were organised, processed and followed up.
We also support the Irish Government’s intention to publish legislation on ‘tracing’ rights for adopted children and their mothers with due regard to the rights of all involved. The Investigation could seek to establish a clear and straightforward method for ‘tracing’ and put in place the necessary resources to assist those who are searching for their parents or children.
To facilitate progress in the Investigation we encourage all those who had any responsibility for setting up, running or overseeing the Homes or adoption agencies to gather any documentation or information that might be of assistance. We will continue to work at a local level to ensure that burial sites are appropriately marked so that the deceased and their families will be recognised with dignity and never be forgotten.
We ask for prayers for all who are personally affected in any way.