On the front page of the May 13 Maine Sunday Telegram, there was a story about a young boy who was placed for adoption by nuns at the Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Ireland. The article quotes a genealogist at the Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland, who makes a statement that is scurrilous.

Speaking of the 20th-century convent, Deb Sullivan Gellerson says, “The very same religious order abuses, sells or even killed these children, yet these abbeys and orphanages continued to operate for generations.”

All of this is inaccurate. Few children were abused. None were sold. And none were killed.

The first charge, that the nuns abused the children, was found wanting by the 2013 McAleese Report; it is the most comprehensive report on Ireland’s mother and baby homes ever written. The report shows, in great detail, that neither the women nor the children were abused. It is a cruel hoax.

The lie about babies being sold by the nuns was directly challenged by Sister Julie Rose in 2014; she was an official at the Sean Ross Abbey. “No children were sold by any mother or the congregation, to any party, nor did the congregation receive any monies in relation to adoption while we were running the mother and baby home.” There were, of course, donations, unsolicited contributions. That’s what adopting couples do – it’s a token of their gratitude.

Gellerson apparently takes her cues from the movie “Philomena,” based on the life of Philomena Lee; much of it is pure bunk. In fact, she was never forced to give her baby up, nor was he sold. When she was 22, she voluntarily signed an oath giving her son up for adoption.


The most serious accusation made by Gellerson – that the nuns killed children – is a bald-face lie. She owes Catholics an apology.

Bill Donohue

president, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

New York

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