Source: Associated Press
By SYLVIA HUI
LONDON (AP) — An Irish government Cabinet minister has told Pope Francis that the Catholic Church “should contribute substantially” to funding reparations for survivors of a former church-run orphanage where a mass grave of children’s remains was discovered.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone raised the issue with the pope on Saturday during his weekend visit to Ireland. On Monday, Zappone released her remarks to Francis and a letter she gave him laying out background for the monetary appeal.
Church-run homes in Ireland housed orphans, unmarried pregnant women and their babies for most of the 20th century. The institutions have been subject to intense public scrutiny since a local historian in 2014 tracked down death certificates for nearly 800 children who died at the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway — but could only find a burial record for one child.
Investigators later found a mass grave containing remains of babies and young children in an underground sewage structure on the grounds of the home, which was run by an order of Catholic nuns and closed in 1961. DNA analysis of some remains last year showed the dead ranged from 35 weeks to 3-years-old and most were buried in the 1950s.