Two Catholic Bishops whose Diocese are in Donegal have acknowledged the role of the church in the ‘harsh and uncaring’ treatment of people in Mother and Baby Homes.
Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian and Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown have issued a joint statement on the publication of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into the homes.
In the statement, the bishops described the Church’s role in failing thousands of young women as a source of embarrassment and shame.
They say that there is no doubt that the Church contributed greatly to the culture which was, as the Report says, ‘harsh and uncaring’ in relation to women who deserved only kindness and support.
"We are reading stories of many vulnerable women and girls who were pregnant. At a time when they needed love and care they found themselves isolated and abandoned.
Not only that but they were stigmatised by a culture of fear, judgement and secrecy."
The bishops have described accounts of the hardship that those endured by those who lived in the County Home in Stranorlar , in the most unhealthy and undignified of conditions, are truly heart-breaking.
In terms of the ‘The Castle’ in Newtowncunningham, the bishops welcomed the report’s positive findings about the staff, as it stated: ‘The staff were local women who, in the Commission’s view, showed a great deal of empathy and, possibly more importantly, common sense.’
The bishops thanked Judge Yvonne Murphy and the Commission staff for their clear and comprehensive report.
"This report has done a great service to survivors, their families, to wider society including the Church. The contents, and in particular the personal testimonies, can help us find the truth about our past. It is only by acknowledging the truth of this reality, and the hurt and pain experienced, that we can begin the journey of healing."
Both bishops acknowledged the truth of this reality and apologise sincerely to the women who were so badly let down.
"We pray for healing and hope for all of those who still suffer. We remember and we pray especially for those women and children who were treated so badly, and who are now dead."