Catholic World News

Irish prelate ‘horrified’ by reports of mass grave, welcomes government inquiry

June 05, 2014

Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam said he was “horrified and saddened” to learn of the discovery of the remains of 796 children in a mass grave near the site of a former orphanage run by the Bon Secours Sisters in County Galway.

The deceased children are believed to be babies born by unwed mothers in an institution for homeless adults that operated between 1926 and 1951.

“I can only begin to imagine the huge emotional wrench which the mothers suffered in giving up their babies for adoption or by witnessing their death,” said Archbishop Neary. “Many of these young vulnerable women would already have been rejected by their families. The pain and brokenness which they endured is beyond our capacity to understand. It is simply too difficult to comprehend their helplessness and suffering as they watched their beloved child die.”

He added:

Regardless of the time lapse involved this is a matter of great public concern which ought to be acted upon urgently. As the diocese did not have any involvement in the running of the home in Tuam, we do not have any material relating to it in our archives. I understand that the material which the Bon Secours Sisters held, as managers of the Mother and Baby Home, was handed over to Galway County Council and the health authorities in 1961.

I welcome the announcement today by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Mr Charlie Flanagan TD, to establish a cross-departmental examination of the burial arrangements for children in Mother and Baby Homes … While the Archdiocese of Tuam will cooperate fully nonetheless there exists a clear moral imperative on the Bon Secours Sisters in this case to act upon their responsibilities in the interest of the common good … It will be a priority for me, in cooperation with the families of the deceased, to seek to obtain a dignified re-interment of the remains of the children in consecrated ground in Tuam.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jun. 05, 2014 7:52 AM ET USA

    Underlying the all but complete destruction of the faith in Ireland is a story of rot in chanceries, hospitals, and convents. Maybe God allowed this defeat to be visited on the Church because he knew what was afoot behind the façade of public piety. Perhaps he meant it as an emetic to flush out the hidden poison.