By Vatican News staff reporter
The research report compiled by Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster covers eight mother and baby homes and four Magdalene laundries run by the Catholic and Protestant churches from the 1920’s up to 1990.
It found that 10,500 women were sent to mother and baby homes and around 3,000 women to Magdalene laundries in Northern Ireland over those decades.
The findings show that women were made to feel ashamed about their pregnancy and suggested that the atmosphere was “authoritarian and judgemental.”
Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Arlene Foster said an independent investigation into Northern Ireland’s mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries would put the needs of victims first.
Embarrassment and guilt
In a statement, Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “he felt embarrassed and guilty over the way in which we in the Church contributed to, and bolstered, that culture of concealment, condemnation, and self-righteousness.” For that I am truly sorry and ask the forgiveness of survivors.”
He also stressed that “the persistence and the powerful testimonies of these same courageous survivors has lifted the lid on this dark chapter of our shared history and exposed our hypocrisy to the glaring light.”
Praising the work of the research team, Archbishop Martin said is "another step on the journey towards revealing the full truth of our past.”
“No mother or child today should be made to feel unwelcome, unwanted or unloved. No father today should shirk his responsibilities. No priest or bishop or religious sister or any lay member of the Church today should deny the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. No family today should shun their child to protect some misguided notion of ‘respectability’ in the parish community. We still have so much to learn and so much work to do,” he said.
This research report comes two weeks after the publication of findings by an Irish Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes in the Republic of Ireland.