Sunday, October 16, 2011

Heartbreak-The Catholic Weekly

Catholic news from Australia and the world


9 October, 2011

IT IS wise not to judge too quickly and too harshly the conduct of our forbears.
With that wonderful gift of hindsight, grafted to the lens of contemporary mores, the actions of people of yesteryears can seem to us puzzling if not incomprehensible.
In answer to, "How could they have sanctioned this or done that" is: quite simply and understandably given the social environment and thinking of the time.
What is wrong now was, unfortunately, acceptable then.
Such is the case with some of the ways we used educate our children, regard with suspicion people of other faiths, treat indigenous people and the way we dealt with 'the problem' of unwed mothers.

It is this latter group that has received publicity of late.
These women, young as they might have been, were separated at birth from their newborn in actions seen then as in the best interests of both mother and child.
Only now can we really start to appreciate the suffering that this caused to these young women. Only now can we begin to understand that many of their children, too, were hurt badly and are still hurting.

Catholic Health Australia chief Martin Laverty has issued an apology to all involved because, like other institutions of the day, Church-run hospitals participated in this program of separation.
Indeed, the practice of placing the babies of young unwed mothers into adoption was once the policy of governments and organisations across Australia over many decades.

The apology is sincere, and while it cannot rewrite history, coupled with proposals made by Catholic Health Australia, some redress may be made to the people affected.
Included in this is a call to make records more accessible so that mothers and children can be re├žnited.
Mr Laverty has also stressed the importance of a setting up a national strategy to support access to post-adoption counselling.
He has also called for all governments to join with the Church body in offering an apology to those who experienced and continue to experience the heartbreak of separation.
At least it's a good start.

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