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Catholic Church.

(105 Posts)
kircubbin2000 Wed 13-Jan-21 12:59:09

With the release of papers relating to Irish mother and baby homes there are a lot of articles on the internet today about the Catholic church.
I've just spent the last hour reading about some of the things that went on and may still do today.
One was called 'churching' where a new mother was considered unclean and sinful, even though married, and had to go through a blessing called churching before she could resume social life.
She was not allowed into neighbours house in case of bad luck and could not attend her baby's christening or enter a graveyard until this blessing had been given.

B9exchange Wed 13-Jan-21 13:09:39

There were a lot of changes in the 1970's and this was discontinued then I believe. Peculiar to the Roman Catholic Church, unheard of in CofE. The wrenching of babies from their unmarried mothers that went on was horrific, I am sure we all remember the film 'Philomena'.

It is strange the ideas that spring up around religions that actually have no basis at all in the holy books that they are based on. But then we can all fall prey to misrepresentation I suppose. I cringe at what has been, and in some cases still is, done in the name of a particular religion, whilst having no basis for it in the mainstream teachings from the scriptures.

Polly99 Wed 13-Jan-21 13:15:32

Just out of interest my mum told me that when she had her first child (early fifties) her MIL insisted on her going to be churched afterwards. They were both CofE. She wasn't very happy with the idea but went along with it to keep the peace. This was in London.

aggie Wed 13-Jan-21 13:19:18

I was expected to do this after my first baby , I just said no, thought it was ridiculous, everyone agreed with me , even the older ladies
I am appalled about the Mother and Baby homes , and saddened that it wasn’t just the Catholic Homes that this went on , these people were anything but Christian ! Even worse , lots of other people knew what went on and did nothing

kircubbin2000 Wed 13-Jan-21 13:23:06

I had never heard of it and because of it many mothers and babies died before being churched and were then in 'hell' and not buried with the Christians.

Anniebach Wed 13-Jan-21 13:24:18

I was churched after the birth of my two daughters ,1969 and 1970, Church of Wales.

No superstition, no thought of being unclean, but to give thanks

kircubbin2000 Wed 13-Jan-21 13:24:22

I hear the church are now saying that it was the families who sent the girls away, not the church.

EllanVannin Wed 13-Jan-21 13:27:01

I have mixed feelings and tend to look at both sides.

Anniebach Wed 13-Jan-21 13:28:53

It was the families, sex before marriage? shameful, so many daughters were sent to these homes by their parents

Peasblossom Wed 13-Jan-21 13:30:10

I remember relatives being “churched” in the Methodist Church in the 1960s. It was about six weeks after the birth,
They couldn’t attend a service until they had been officially “cleansed”.

PollyDolly Wed 13-Jan-21 13:31:27

I had my first baby in 1979; the wife of my OH's workmate was pregnant around the same time too. During our pregnancies the four of us used to socialise so, when I had my baby, it felt natural to visit her one day when the men folk were at work. I still recall the look of horror on her face when she opened the door and saw me claiming that I couldn't enter her house until I'd been "churched" and my baby baptised!

I swiftly told her that we'd had the christening the previous Sunday, which we had! I'd never heard of churching and my mother and grandmother had never mentioned it either!

As for the Mother and Baby homes........what an absolute disgrace, the "Church" and associated establishments should hang their heads in shame.

vampirequeen Wed 13-Jan-21 13:32:11

My mam is CofE. She was churched after each of us was born.

Smileless2012 Wed 13-Jan-21 13:32:27

The original reason for being churched changed some time ago and it became a way of giving thanks, like you did Annie.

It was the families who sent the girls away, kircubbin so they would be out of sight as the pregnancy progressed, the babies would be taken away for adoption and no one, apart from the poor distressed young mother, would know any different.

PippaZ Wed 13-Jan-21 13:33:29

The Churching of women was not exclusive to Catholic Church and is still offered, not insisted upon, in the Church of England although many will never even come across it. I believe a form of it is available in some churches in the USA also.

It pretty much died out in the 1960/70s. I remember my hackles rising when heard about it and was very keen it stopped! Some Catholic women still go through it too but I imagine you would have to have very conservative views of your religion to do so.

Mamardoit Wed 13-Jan-21 13:34:44


I was churched after the birth of my two daughters ,1969 and 1970, Church of Wales.

No superstition, no thought of being unclean, but to give thanks

Yes I know that this did happen at our village C of E in the 1960s. Maybe a bit later. It was to give thanks that mother and baby were well.

vampirequeen Wed 13-Jan-21 13:36:43

It wasn't just the Church. The State was complicit too. It was a State/Church partnership. Even now the State is covering up for and protecting the Church.

GillT57 Wed 13-Jan-21 13:37:49

Yes kirkcubbin from what I read, it was the families who sent the girls away, but with pressure from the Catholic church. The government spokesperson said yesterday on the news report that I saw, that everyone was responsible. He is right, in my opinion, and how refreshing to see acceptance of mutual responsibility instead of throwing blame at everyone else. Truly a shameful episode, and in our lifetime too, not an event that we can excuse by being a long time ago/a different time. It is interesting too how the focus was always on the woman, and never the man who made her pregnant. Some of these poor women probably didn't even know how they became pregnant, sex education wasn't high on the agenda in 1950s Catholic Ireland I assume. These children and their mothers didn't even have a decent Christian burial, the words 'sewer system' send a chill.

Aldom Wed 13-Jan-21 13:39:08

Book of Common Prayer. The Thanksgiving of Women After Childbirth, Commonly called
The Churching of Women.
No mention of sin in the service.

Anniebach Wed 13-Jan-21 13:40:36


The book of Leviticus states a mother is unclean .

Babies were not wrenched from their mothers, the mothers
couldn’t afford to keep herself and a child, her family wouldn’t
help her.

B9exchange Wed 13-Jan-21 13:41:52

The C of E service was to give thanks for mother and child having come through safely, nothing about being unclean, you can read the service here

For Orthodox Jewish women it seems menstruation itself, not just childbirth, needs a set amount of time for cleansing.

In Islam too, a woman is considered unclean if bleeding.

Some strange male preconception? smile

PippaZ Wed 13-Jan-21 13:42:49

I think it's a little extreme to say none of what happened to women and babies in the RC happened to people of other faiths. Having a child out of wedlock in the early half of the 20th Century was hidden, lied about and a broke the social mores of society. Certainly young women were sent away to have the child and high levels of persuasion use to have the children adopted and there were cases where people later found out their sister was their mother and they had been brought up by grandparents.

It is hard to remember just how stifling societies rules were in the early twentieth century. We have to remember some would still like to impose their rules on their neighbour and that gossip is still, often very destructive. We have to fight to hold the ground we have gained.

PippaZ Wed 13-Jan-21 13:46:44

As Churching is thought to derive from a Jewish purification rite, where the sin of childbirth was washed away I don't think it was always seen as a service of thanks giving B9exchange.

It all part of seeing women as lesser and keeping them in their place smile

GillT57 Wed 13-Jan-21 13:57:05

It is interesting how the 'older' religions such as Islam, Catholicism, Judaism have an issue with women and reproduction in general. I recognise that this was not just the case with the Catholic church in the 1950s and before, but this particular case is especially chilling. Many on here have previously, and very bravely, described their experiences of having a child out of wedlock in the past.

TerriBull Wed 13-Jan-21 13:57:21

I was brought up a catholic and have never heard or experienced "churching". Believe me I spent much of my life going to and from church as a child.

The notion that women are unclean is a patriarchal one that is present in several world religions. It's really just basic man made misogyny imo

I've read about the awful goings on at the mother and baby homes in Ireland and saw the film the Magdalene Sisters a few years ago. I went to a convent school and in the main, bar a few exceptions, the nuns that taught us were horrible, they shouldn't have been around children imo. I can only imagine what some of those poor women incarcerated in mother and baby homes experiences were like. There is much emphasis in the catholic church of the rights of the unborn child and in certain instances precious little on the children that are born and in the care of so called religious people. So many suffered at the hands of several religious orders.

Kamiso Wed 13-Jan-21 13:59:33

The Paper Bracelet. Rachael English is about these terrible times.

Probably not a story to read during these difficult times but is about a home for unmarried mothers and what went on.

My SM had her son when she was a very young and totally innocent. She kept him but was treated like a skivvy by her older siblings, expected to leave him with her mother to answer to their demands. One sister gave birth to twins expecting them to appear from her navel!

Strange that my SM believed children should not be told anything about how babies are made or how they are born. She was horrified that I had answered my children’s questions as and when they arose - on one occasion in the queue at the supermarket! I was accused of spoiling their innocence.