The Catholic Church, this time in Ireland, is facing the horrific results of an investigation into the brutality and misogyny that unmarried young women have faced for decades – the deaths of as many as 9,000 newborns within the walls of 18 institutions called mother and child homes!
The Irish government has approved the publication of the final report on the investigation, said Roderick O’Gorman, the Minister for Children and Youth, yesterday.
“The report clearly shows that for decades, Ireland has had an oppressive and brutal misogynistic culture in which stigmatization of mothers and their children has taken away their future,” O’Gorman said, calling the 2,865-page Commission report a significant moment for the nation.
“In the coming weeks and months, the government will review the report very carefully and in detail in order to develop a comprehensive action plan covering eight topics: a survivor-centered approach, an apology, access to personal data, archiving and database, education and research, memorialization, restorative recognition and dignified burial, “he noted.
Prime Minister Michael Martin said the report describes a very dark and difficult chapter in Irish history.
“As a state, we have to face the full truth from our past,” he said, adding that “the difficult truth is that the whole society was an accomplice” in this scandal. “We did this to ourselves – we treated women extremely badly, we treated children extremely badly.”
“We had a completely perverted attitude towards sexuality and intimacy, and young mothers and their sons and daughters were forced to pay the terrible price of that perversion. “As a society, we have adopted perverted religious morality and control,” the prime minister said.
The mortality rate in homes was 15 percent
According to the report, as many as 9,000 newborns died in 18 nursing homes between 1922 and 1998, and the mortality rate in homes was 15 percent. Investigators later found a mass grave of babies and children in a sewer under a Catholic home in the city of Tuam. Some minors were also reportedly used in vaccine trials without parental consent.
Their relatives today claim that the babies were abused because they were born out of wedlock and that their mothers were considered a stain on Ireland’s reputation as a dedicated Catholic state, the American and British media report.
Government data showed that the mortality rate of children in homes, where tens of thousands of women, including rape victims, were sent to give birth, was often five times higher than in married couples.
57,000 children were born in the homes covered by the investigation, and the largest number of admissions of pregnant women was in the 1960s and 1970s. A large number of children born in homes were adopted or placed in orphanages run by nuns. There were often victims of abuse.
The discovery of a mass grave
An investigation into Irish homes for mother and child was launched six years ago after local historian Catherine Corles found death certificates for nearly 800 children from the Bon Secur home in the city of Tuam, but only two reports of funerals.
Her research led to the discovery of a mass grave.
Catherine Corles, who grew up in Tuam with her family, said that the research was prompted by disturbing childhood memories of skinny children who were separated from other students at her school.
The commission’s report states that 802 children were buried in the former septic tank under the home in Tuam. The oldest was three years old.
The home in Tuam operated from 1925 to 1961, and was demolished in the 1970s.
From one of the protests in front of the home for unmarried mothers in Tuam on the occasion of the exhumation of hundreds of bodies of newborns buried around the home
The reputation of the Catholic Church in Ireland has been shaken by a series of scandals due to pedophilia among priests, abuse, forced adoption of children and other painful topics.
During his first visit to Ireland in 2018, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the scandal.
The report of the commission states that homes for mothers and children also existed in other countries, but that the number of unmarried mothers in Irish homes was the largest in the world.
“In the years before 1960, mother and child homes did not save the lives of” illegal “children, but seemed to significantly reduce their chances of survival,” the report said. “A very high mortality rate was known to both local and national authorities at the time and was recorded in official documents.”
The role of the state in the scandal
The Association of Irish Home Survivors said the report was “truly shocking”, but expressed dissatisfaction because the investigation did not cover similar institutions and because it did not sufficiently indicate the role of the state in home management.
“What happened was just one aspect of the state that was extremely directed against women in both legislative and cultural terms,” the association said.
The policies of religious organizations in Ireland and the state prevented survivors from mother and child homes from coming into contact with relatives. Adopted persons do not have the right to access information and documents about who their biological parents or relatives are.
The report states that priests, nuns and officials resorted to lies and manipulations in order to prevent contacts between mothers, children and relatives.
Visitors in front of a plaque with the names of deceased children at the site of a former Catholic home for unmarried mothers in Tuam, Ireland
“This is a crucial moment. I’m sorry it took so long, “70-year-old Anne Harris, who gave birth to a son in a home in Cork County in 1970, told the Guardian.
“Irish society has condemned children born out of wedlock. The women were sent to such institutions so that they would not be watched, “said Anne Harris, who wrote a book about her experience at home and later finding her son.
Joan Barton, a former deputy prime minister who was born in one of the homes in 1949, said the findings of the investigation were historic in terms of documenting a system that could have been forgotten in a country that is finally freeing itself from Catholicism.
“The report reveals, especially to the new generation of young people, what Ireland used to do to women who had the courage to love out of wedlock and give birth to children who had to give up,” she wrote for the Irish Independent.
“As a society, this will give us an opportunity to ask ourselves why this kind of brutality has been tolerated for so long.”
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