Statement from the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) on the Tuam Babies revelations and the resignation of Marie Collins from the Vatican Commission on Clerical Sex Abuse
The latest revelations about the burial of babies in the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, though widely predicted, provoke a sense of both sadness and shame. Sadness, that the very precious, elemental relationship between mothers and their children could be so disrespected by institutions of Church and State in Ireland; and shame because as priests we are part of an institution that has played a central role in this sorry saga.
It will be argued, with some cause, that the Catholic Church was not totally to blame, as the whole culture of Ireland during that period made it acceptable for pregnant unmarried girls to be treated so shamefully. But the Church, because of its dominant position in the Ireland of the time, must take a large degree of responsibility for what happened. Also, we must acknowledge that individual priests in parishes, through the advice they gave to parents of unmarried pregnant women, and in some cases through public condemnation from pulpits, helped to limit to Mother and Baby homes the options available to parents.
The recent Tuam revelations, coinciding with the attitudes of Vatican officials which led to the resignation of Marie Collins from the Vatican Commission on Clerical Sex Abuse, serve to underline our conviction that Catholic sexual teaching and the attitudes that can underpin it need urgent renewal. There is still a long way to go before women are treated with equal respect and dignity in the Catholic Church.