Monday, September 26, 2011

Hickey aploogises to mothers

The West AustralianSeptember 21, 2011, 5:26 am

Perth Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey has asked for forgiveness for his "insensitive" comments in July about unwed mothers who were forced to give up their babies for adoption in Catholic institutions.

The plea comes as the Catholic Church's Australian medical arm prepares to apologise during a Senate hearing in Canberra next week for the treatment of unwed mothers coerced into parting with their newborn babies in its hospitals.

Catholic Health Australia chief executive Martin Laverty delivered a similar apology in NSW in July.

But his expected apology before the Senate inquiry into former forced adoption policies next week is being hailed as a national gesture.

It will be given to Federal Parliament and broadcast live on the internet.

Archbishop Hickey offended affected mothers after the July apology by saying there was "little evidence" of forced adoption by the Church.

Albany woman Judith Hendriksen, who gave birth in 1973 at St Anne's Hospital in Mt Lawley run by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy and had her daughter adopted against her will, wrote to Archbishop Hickey about her experience.

In his reply to her last month, Archbishop Hickey wrote that he had since read other reports from girls who gave birth at St Anne's "and I am beginning to understand something of their grief".

"Perhaps they (the Sisters) did not believe they had forced anyone, only strongly recommended adoption but I can see for a young girl this would seem like forcing her because it was pressure she could not resist," he said.

"Please forgive me for my insensitivity.

"I know better now."

Experts say that between the 1940s and the early 1980s an estimated 150,000 babies were taken by government and church authorities when unmarried women were prevented from seeing, touching, naming or bonding with their children immediately after birth.

Ms Hendriksen said yesterday that, though Archbishop Hickey's July comments had "re-traumatised a lot of women", she respected him for seeking forgiveness.

Christine Cole, convenor of the NSW-based Apology Alliance which lobbies on the issue, said that Mr Laverty's apology would have international significance.
Ms Cole said that WA had led the nation in addressing the issue after the State Government apologised a year ago to unmarried mothers and their children and families for past adoption practices that separated them.

1 comment:

Julie said...

It is not only the Catholic church that needs to apologise. There were many unmarried mothers homes run by the Church of England. They are jsut as responsible for taking babies from mothers too!
When will they "do the right thing!"