Pope meets with survivors of Irish mother and baby homes

Dublin, Ireland, Aug 25, 2018 / 05:29 pm (CNA).- On Saturday, Pope Francis met with two representatives from the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors for a 90-minute meeting at the Papal Nuncio’s residence.

Pope Francis apologized for the injustices that occurred in the homes, according to a press release from the Coalition, and condemned corruption in the Church as “filth.”

At the meeting was Clodagh Aileen Malone, who was born in the Saint Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, and adopted at two and half months old, and Paul Redmond, who was born in the Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home and adopted at just over two weeks old.

The meeting was described as “polite and cordial.”

The homes for unwed mothers operated in Ireland during the 20th century. While it is unclear just exactly how many women lived in these homes, the estimates range between 35,000 and 100,000 women.

Children born in the homes were sometimes placed for adoption without their mother’s consent, or even sold, according to reports. These women were allegedly told that it would be sinful if they were to ever seek out their children.

In 2015, the Irish government launched a commission into the Mother and Baby Homes after reports that an unrecorded mass grave containing the bodies of several hundred infants was discovered outside of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, the year before. The commission is due to report its findings next year. The local archbishop welcomed the investigation, saying he was “greatly shocked” and “horrified and saddened” by reports of mistreatment.

Malone requested that Pope Francis state that mothers from the homes whose babies were taken from them had done “nothing wrong,” and asked for the pope to call for reunions between mothers and children who had born in the homes, not only in Ireland, but in similar homes in other countries.

Pope Francis reportedly agreed to mention these points in his homily during Sunday’s Mass at Phoenix Park.

Both Redmond and Malone expressed positive sentiment following the meeting. Redmond said that he feels “hopeful there will be more movement from the Church” on this issue, and that he thought Pope Francis was “genuinely shocked” to learn about what happened in the homes.

The pope “lifted his hands to his head in shock,” said Redmond.

Malone said that the meeting was “very powerful” and that Pope Francis was attentive and had a “genuine interest” in what had happened.

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