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Archbishop calls for ‘broadening’ of Tuam investigation

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APOLOGY Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary.


Áine Ryan

BROADENING the focus of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation ‘no matter how unpalatable’ it may be to those involved – whether that is Church, State, local authorities or society in general – would ensure that the truth will emerge. That was the view expressed by Archbishop Michael Neary during a homily preached at Mass in Tuam cathedral on Saturday night last.
As the fall-out from the scandal continues, he apologised again for the role played by the Church.
“I wish to again apologise for the hurt caused by the failings of the Church as part of that time and society when – instead of being cherished – particular children and their mothers were not welcomed, they were not wanted and they were not loved,” he said.
“This is a deeply distressing story for all of us, but especially so for those affected individuals and families. We can only attempt to understand the emotional upheaval that mothers suffered as they felt so helpless and isolated,” he said.  
What was ‘particularly harrowing’ in the report, he observed, was the ‘high levels of mortality and malnutrition’ in an era “when ‘unmarried mothers’ – as our society at the time labelled women who were pregnant and not married – were often judged, stigmatised and ostracised by their own community and the Church, and this all happened in a harsh and unforgiving climate.”  
“Compassion, understanding and mercy were sorely lacking. It is now timely that this dimension of our social history be addressed and thoroughly examined. To do so would begin the process of attempting to explain, but not to excuse, what happened in our not too distant collective past,” he said.
“Perhaps we could begin with this fundamental question: ‘How could the culture of Irish society, which purported to be defined by Christian values, have allowed itself to behave in such a manner towards our most vulnerable?’”
Concluding he said: “In years to come our present society will inevitably be subjected to scrutiny and will most likely be found deficient in many areas to which we are blind at present. We need to learn from the past in order to prevent similar injustices in our time, and so as to inform our future generations.”
It was through the painstaking work of local historian, Catherine Corless, that the scandal was brought into the public domain.

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