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Pope Visit: Ireland Chants Names of 800 Babies Who Died at Church-run Orphanage

The demonstration took place near the Marian shrine at Knock, which Pope Francis visited earlier on Sunday.

Associated Press

Updated:August 26, 2018, 9:45 PM IST
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Pope Visit: Ireland Chants Names of 800 Babies Who Died at Church-run Orphanage
File photo of Pope Francis. (Image: AP)
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Knock: Hundreds of people have marched through the town of Tuam, Ireland, reading aloud the names of an estimated 800 babies who died at a Catholic Church-run orphanage and were buried in a mass grave near a sewage area on the grounds.

The somber protesters read out: "Elizabeth Murphy, 4 months. Annie Tyne, 3 months. John Joseph Murphy, 10 months" and on and on.

They lit candles and placed hundreds of pairs of tiny shoes around a tiny white coffin to honour the babies.

The demonstration took place near the Marian shrine at Knock, which Pope Francis visited earlier on Sunday.

The demonstrators were hoping to draw attention to the plight of the Tuam babies, who were exiled to the home because they were born to unwed mothers.

An amateur Irish historian, Catherine Corless, researched the deaths of some 800 children at the Bon Secours home. Last year, a government-mandated survey of the grounds determined there was a mass grave at the site.

Corless said of the Tuam protest: "This is much more moving than watching the pope deliver prepared speeches."

Pope Francis has denounced how Irish children were "robbed of their innocence and taken from their mothers" by Catholic Church-run institutions that put them up for adoption for the shame of having been born to unwed mothers.

Francis spoke out about Ireland's haunting history of forced adoptions during a prayer Sunday in Knock, the country's main shrine dedicated to Christ's mother, Mary.

He did so after meeting on Saturday with some of the adoptees, who urged him to denounce the practice, demand an apology from the religious sisters responsible and assure the mothers they could search now for their lost children without fear of sin.

Francis prayed that such abuses never occur again and for the church "to proceed with justice and reparation, where responsible, for the violences."

Pope Francis has visited a famous shrine in Ireland and was to celebrate a Mass dedicated to families a day after an emotional meeting with victims of cleric sex abuse and some of Ireland's thousands of forced adoptees.

Francis arrived on Sunday in Knock, the Marian shrine in northwestern Ireland, where he prayed and blessed thousands of jubilant Irish faithful, who gathered in raincoats under clouds.

Francis' first day in Ireland was dominated by the abuse scandal and Ireland's fraught history of atrocities committed in the name of preserving the Catholic faith.

He received a lukewarm reception on the streets, but tens of thousands thronged Dublin's Croke Park Stadium for a family rally and concert.

The US sexual abuse scandal took on a new twist on Sunday, with a former Vatican ambassador to the US purportedly penning a letter accusing Vatican officials of knowing about the sexual escapades of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick since 2000, but making him a cardinal anyway.

The letter was attributed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a staunch conservative.
Pope Francis has held an emotional meeting with Irish victims of clerical sex abuse and those wrenched away from their unwed mothers in forced adoptions demanded by Catholic authorities.

On Saturday, Francis spent 90 minutes meeting with victims of clerical and institutional abuse, including two people forcibly given up for adoption as newborns.

Clodagh Malone said Francis was "shocked" at what they told him and "he listened to each and every one of us with respect and compassion."

The survivors asked Francis to speak out on Sunday at Mass in Dublin to let all the mothers know that they did nothing wrong and that it wasn't a sin as church officials have told them to try to find their children later in life.
| Edited by: Padmaja Venkataraman
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