Pope Francis gave no mention of the church helping with the cost of exhuming the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in his response to Katherine Zappone.
However the pontiff said that he is praying that the efforts made by the Irish government and the Church in Ireland will help to face this “tragic chapter” in Irish history.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone spoke to Pope Francis about the Tuam Mother and Baby Home when he visited Ireland for the World Meeting of Families and wrote him a letter.
In the letter she said that the Catholic Church must accept its responsibility for its role in this tragedy, and should willingly contribute to the costs of dealing with it.
The Irish Times reports that in a response letter dated November 13 Pope Francis expressed his “sincere appreciation” for Minister Zappone’s letter.
The Pope said he was grateful to hear about the work being done by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.
He offered his “prayerful solidarity” and concern for this “sad situation”, mentioning the work being done by the “Government and by the local Churches and religious congregations”.
The original letter from Minister Zappone to the Pope said, “It is my strong conviction that given the role of the Church in this shameful chapter of recent Irish history it must play a practical role in addressing the hurt and damage.”
“I believe that the church should contribute substantially to the cost of whatever option is decided by the government. This should be done willingly, unconditionally and quickly. Nothing less will demonstrate remorse.”
The cost of performing a full forensic excavation of the site is estimated to come to between €6 million and €13 million.
The Bon Secours sisters, who ran the Tuam Mother and Baby Home have offered to contribute €2.5 million which has been accepted in principle.
However the order resisted efforts by Minister Zappone to contribute a higher amount to the costs, the remainder of which will be borne by taxpayers.
Minister Zappone was also stringent in pointing out that this was a voluntary contribution on their part, not a settlement or indemnity.
This week a spokesperson for Minister Zappone said she was happy to receive the Pope’s letter, which she said shows he is aware of the church’s role.