Archbishop says Church must listen to survivors’ stories after report

Archbishop says Church must listen to survivors’ stories after report

Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly said the publication of the Mother and baby Homes report in recent days had saddened him greatly. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Kieran O’Reilly, has said the response of the archdiocese to the publication of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes final report must be to “listen to, and really hear, the stories of the women and children in our diocese who suffered and are still suffering the effects of their childhood and young lives”.

In a letter to his archdiocese, the Cork city native said the publication of the report in recent days had saddened him greatly.

“The abuse and lifelong suffering inflicted on innocent mothers and children by many of those in authority at that time, including Church leadership, was the total antithesis of the faith we claim to profess,” he said.

“It must be acknowledged that there were quite a large number of families and individual members of the clergy and religious who railed against the status quo of the time, thereby ensuring that families remained together.

“I readily acknowledge that the practices outlined in this welcome report supporting the status quo of the time have blighted the lives of many fragile and innocent people in our communities.”

Archbishop O’Reilly said the response in the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly “must be to listen to, and really hear, the stories of the women and children in diocese who suffered, and are still suffering the effects of their childhood and young lives”.

“I wish to offer a personal listening ear to any person who wishes to tell me their story,” he said. “We will offer supportive services if they are required.

“I would ask that all Catholics throughout the diocese would also listen compassionately to any person who wishes to tell you their story.”

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes report, published last week, shows that an estimated 9,000 children died in the institutions under investigation.

Archbishop wants church that listens to voices of women 

In his letter, Archbishop O’Reilly said the report is as an important reminder that there must be “a full and deep engagement with the voices of women” within the Church.

“The report on Mother and Baby Homes reminds all of us that, working together, we must create a Church in our diocese which truly listens to, and respects, womanhood; a Church which promotes a full and deep engagement with the voices of women; and which listens, and acts upon, equally, to the care, concerns, hopes and joys of both women and men in our diocese,” he said.

“I pledge to do all that I can to ensure this happens through clear leadership in this regard.”

'A very difficult time'

In the letter, Archbishop O’Reilly said it is a “very difficult moment in time for our country” and he also moved to express his solidarity with all those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought death, pain and suffering to many families in our diocese and country. I wish to express my deep sadness and solidarity with all those affected by the pandemic.”

He paid tribute to frontline workers for their “courage, dedication and superhuman efforts”.

The Archnishop encouraged parishioners throughout the diocese to keep regular contact, in the safest ways possible, with those who live alone or with those who might be vulnerable in any way to the virus or to loneliness or depression.

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