Work of religious in aiding single mothers


Sir, – Further to Stephanie Walsh’s article “Good work of religious in aiding single mothers now largely forgotten” (Opinion & Analysis, January 5th), while it is certainly true that members of religious orders did (and still do) help the destitute in Irish society, which should not be forgotten, she asserts that, “In the 1970s church people provided more assistance to women in need than secular society.”

But secular society hardly existed in 1970s Ireland. Irish society in the 1970s was very religious. The vast majority of people may not have been member of religious orders, but they were “church people”. And where did people’s attitudes regarding the treatment of single mothers come from? They were the result of a religiously inspired obsession with sin, shame and the maintenance of an impression of purity which pervaded holy Catholic Ireland. These were the root causes of the prejudice against single mothers. It’s not too hard to join the dots. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – Stephanie Walsh’s thoughtful article has reminded us that we the Irish public were as prejudiced as the religious in relation to single pregnant women in the 1960s and 1970s.

We are all aware of the negative role of religious in institutional settings, but the role of positive pastoral care and support given by religious is a voice that is seldom heard.

Ms Walsh’s account is drawn from her own personal experience and is grounded in reality.

It seems to be human nature to look for a single scapegoat when the reality is far more complex. – Yours, etc.



Co Limerick.