Ireland: distressing report on mother and baby homes

A report has been released in Ireland by a commission investigating the conditions in homes for unmarried mothers and their babies between 1922 and 1998. It showed that the child mortality rate in the homes was 15 percent. The Irish government has issued an official apology that speaks of "an oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture." Irish media are now debating the role of the Church.

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Irish Independent (IE) /

Not only the Church is to blame

Looking back, we should not only blame the Catholic Church, Liam Collins warns in The Irish Independent:

“We cannot gloss over the part society played in this shameful solution to the inconvenient dilemma of unmarried mothers. For some, it was simply poverty. For others, it was a misplaced sense of dishonour brought on by the religious fervour of the time and what 'the neighbours' would say and think. ... The sad thing is that the good that the religious orders did for centuries in running schools, hospitals and homes for people nobody else wanted to look after has been swept away, even before this 3,000-page tome delivered yet another devastating blow to their tattered reputation.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Catholic morals facilitated this

The Irish Examiner, on the other hand, argues that attention must not be diverted from the fact that the Church is overwhelmingly to blame for what went on in the mother and baby homes:

“Suggesting that the Church and State were solving the problem rather than actually being the root cause is remarkable, worse still is the fact that much of the blame is pointed directly at the families. ... The level of control Church and State had over people's minds and bodies cannot be underestimated when apportioning blame and identifying responsibility. The language used turned them into criminals and at a time when piety to the teachings of the Church often took precedence over common sense and compassion what were families to do only [sic] turn these offenders in?”