Catherine Corless refuses invite to meet Pope Francis in Dublin 1 year ago

Catherine Corless refuses invite to meet Pope Francis in Dublin

“I just felt I had to take a stand with the babies on that day.”

Galway historian Catherine Corless has refused an official invite which would see her meet Pope Francis during his time in Ireland this weekend, as she had decided to “stand with the babies.”

Corless – whose tireless work uncovered a mass grave holding 796 babies at the former Tuam Mother and Baby home – announced on Thursday afternoon that she declined an invitation from the Taoiseach's Office to attend the civic reception in Dublin Castle.

She told the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk that she had asked if a member of the Tuam Home Survivors Network could take her place – considering no members of the support group were invited – but said that the request was refused.

Corless also went on to say that she refused the invitation due to the fact that she believed her place is at the planned protest at the suspected site of the infant mass grave in Tuam on Sunday at 3pm.

"I did question them would there be any chance of having a word with the Pope for the survivors of the Tuam home and the other mother and baby homes and they said no, that nobody would be talking to him so I just felt it was pointless then," she told Kenny.

"So I just thanked them and said I was taking a stand with the babies buried in the sewage tank at Tuam because we're having a vigil at the same time on Sunday that the Papal mass is on."

Corless went on to berate the Church, saying that it has done “absolutely nothing” to help get to the truth about what happened at the former mother and baby home.

She said that when she originally made the discovery back in 2004, she thought she could then hand the investigation over to the Church and the Irish Government.

“They are just turning a blind eye to the fact that 796 young babies and young children are buried on that site and they are buried in a sewage area.

“In the last year and a half, they are still dawdling and there is no response whatsoever from the Church.

“I just felt I had to take a stand with the babies on that day.”

In 2014, Corless published research on the Tuam mother and baby home – which operated between 1925 and 1961 – which revealed that hundreds of babies and toddlers had been buried in unmarked graves.

Last year, the state inquiry into mother and baby homes confirmed 'significant quantities' of human remains had been discovered at the site.

A solidarity rally will also be taking place in Dublin on the day, with a scheduled march set to kick off from 3pm on Sunday.

The Stand4Truth rally – organised by the Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland Colm O'Gorman – aims to gather in solidarity with victims of abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church.

O'Gorman – who himself is a victim of clerical abuse –  urged "those who have been abused" to join him. A number of high-profile Irish artists, including Hozier and Róisín Ó, will be performing on the day.