A Response to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report

I am very conscious that the past couple of days have been harrowingly hard on mothers and their children. I didn’t rush to respond, because I believe we must read all 3,000 pages of the Commission’s Report, it is not enough to read the 76-page summary. As Archbishop Eamon said in his statement “I ask all those who are in positions of leadership in the Church to study this lengthy report carefully and especially to spend time reflecting on the courageous testimonies of the witnesses to the Commission”.  This is exactly what I am doing.

I welcome the publication of this report which details the period 1922 to 1998, fourteen Mother and Baby Homes and four County Homes. The report covers a very sad chapter in our history. The women who lived in these homes, came from parishes all over the country and while there were no Mother and Baby Homes in Kildare & Leighlin, I am in no doubt that many from our parishes were resident for a time in these homes. I sincerely acknowledge the part played by our Church, by my Church, in contributing to a culture that was harsh, controlling and judgemental.

I am very aware of the plight of survivors. As Church we failed so many, and for this I ask forgiveness. No amount of words will ever heal the hurt or soothe the wound but be certain of my absolute and unreserved apology.

My prayer is that the reading of this report will acknowledge our past, recognise our present and work together towards a better future for all mothers and children, indeed for all families. The intentions of Pope Francis for the month of February are “for women who are victims of violence, that they may be protected by society and have their sufferings considered and heeded”, the publication of the Commission’s report last Tuesday contributes to making this intention very real for us today.

+Denis
Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin
14 January 2021