The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev John McDowell, today issued a statement following the publication of a report into mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries in Northern Ireland.
The Stormont-commissioned research was carried out by Queen’s University and Ulster University, and examined whether a public inquiry should be held into the homes. First Minister Arlene Foster has said a new independent investigation will now take place.
In his statement, Archbishop McDowell said: “The publication of the Research Report on Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland further reveals the suffering of women and children in relation to their experiences in these homes. We are grateful to the academic research team for the work that has gone into this report, which will help the Church reflect in greater depth on the issues highlighted.
“Having had a chance to read the relevant chapters of the report, I acknowledge with shame that members of the Church of Ireland stigmatised women and children in a way which was very far removed from Christian principles and which resulted in an unloving, cold and judgmental attitude towards pregnant women who deserved better.
“The birth of a child should always be a time for happiness, and that many young women experienced it as joyless and cold is a matter for bitter regret. I am sorry and apologise for the role we played in treating unmarried women and their children in this way. They deserved much better.
‘The Church of Ireland will be giving the report further careful consideration, and we would encourage any individuals or agencies who have relevant knowledge and records to co-operate fully with the independent investigation.”