Catholics Stole 300K Babies From Mothers

Secret network sold kids to more devout couples

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 16, 2011 3:09 PM CDT

(Newser) – A secret network of priests, nuns, and doctors have stolen up to 300,000 babies from mothers in Spain and sold them to other parents, a BBC documentary shows. Their scheme: Tell the mother her baby died in childbirth, and sell the newborn to a more devout and wealthy couple. The practice started in General Franco's dictatorship as an effort to rob politically "dangerous" families of their children, but continued into the 1990s, the Daily Mail reports.

Hundreds of families who lost babies in Spanish hospitals are demanding investigations, but no coordinated probe is underway—so regional prosecutors are plowing through 900 cases. "The situation is incredibly sad for thousands of people," one journalist says. "There is very little political will to get to the bottom of the situation." Among the horrors revealed so far: exhumed baby graves that contain animal bones, and an ice-cold baby corpse—kept by Catholic nurses to show grieving mothers after childbirth. (Click through to read about a Catholic bishop charged with failing to report child abuse.)

The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain.
The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain.   (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
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