The Most Revd John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh and the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop of Glendalough, and Primate of All Ireland, have issued the following statement in relation to the Report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation:
‘The Report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation sheds light on the suffering of women and children who found themselves with nowhere else to go but to these homes. The pain and hurt experienced by the women and children in these homes has been shocking and disturbing, and their response has been courageous and inspiring.
‘We acknowledge with shame that members of the Church of Ireland were complicit, as with the rest of society at that time, in a culture of hypocrisy and judgement which stigmatised women and children and endangered their health and well-being. We are sorry and apologise for the role that our Church played in shaping a society in which unmarried women and their children were treated in this way. They deserved much better.
‘We also want to pay tribute to those former residents of homes, and others, who have focused society’s attention on mother and baby homes. One of the most prominent groups was associated with the Bethany Home, which operated under a general Protestant ethos while being independently managed.
‘We acknowledge the Commission’s detailed and extensive reporting and we must all feel ashamed when we consider the social pressures and judgements that drove so many women and their children into these deserts within our community.
‘The Report seeks to understand the injustices endured, and also recognises the difficulties faced by those who ran the homes in a society that often did not want to know or to help, and in a State that did not help enough.
‘The Commission’s recommendations on access to available information for residents in the homes deserve urgent consideration to ensure certainty in future over access to their personal records and knowledge of their identity.
‘Everyone who has read this Report and related coverage can only be moved on behalf of the women and children whose stories are told within it. This is a sombre time for us all.’