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Belgian bishops to help mothers find their babies

12:15 29/09/2014

Thirty years after the scandal in the old Tamar Catholic hospital in Lommel, Limburg province, a group of Belgian bishops are willing to help the mothers who gave birth there.

A special ward was set up at Tamar in the 1970s where pregnant women, usually dealing with an unwanted pregnancy out of wedlock, could stay until they gave birth and then leave the babies for adoption. But, according to reports from victims, hundreds of women and girls who wanted to keep their babies were told they were dead.

Other mothers, particularly teenagers, were pressured into giving up their babies by their families and by the nuns who worked in the hospital.

The babies were subsequently put up for adoption for fees, which raised large sums of money for the hospital, report the victims. Now a group of Belgian bishops are helping mothers search for their babies lost at Tamar.

Some reports say that the nuns received as much as €3,500 per child from wealthy adoptive families. The nuns and the hospital have always denied the accusations.

During the Belgian Bishops' Conference on Tuesday, the bishops will consult with the organisation Mater Matuta, launched to unite these mothers and children. "We are willing to help victims find their lost children, but so far that’s all I can say about it," says bishop conference spokesperson Tommy Scholtes.

Written by Robyn Boyle