The Associated Press landed a blockbuster story in early June that hundreds of children had died due to neglect in a Catholic-run orphanage in Ireland during the mid 20th century.
Mass graves, unmarked burial sites, baptism refusals, and other lurid details put a severely negative light on the Irish Church and prompted several news outlets to carry the AP’s pieces on the developing story.
However, the AP got some of their facts wrong and the new details casts doubt on the truthfulness of the original allegations.
In a correction issued Friday, the AP admitted that claims that Catholic baptisms were refused to the children were not true. The AP’s pieces speculated that the children were refused baptism because they were the offspring of unwed mothers and even went so far as to claim that it was church teaching at the time to not grant sacred rites to the children of single mothers. The AP also retracted that claim as false.
The AP also claimed that the children’s bodies were stored in a septic tank before being disposed of in unmarked graves. The researcher behind that allegation clarified that she could not make a definite statement on that claim because she lacked sufficient forensic evidence to prove it.
Both articles insinuated that the Irish Church was responsible for the neglect that led to the deaths of 796 children at the orphanage between the years of 1926 and 1961. The June 8 article published the claim that the deceased children were denied Christian burials.
“Babies born inside the institutions were denied baptism and, if they died from the illness and disease rife in such facilities, also denied a Christian burial,” the piece reads.