Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Irish Government wants the Church to pay its share of abuse compensation

National Secular Society


The Irish Government is pressing the country's Catholic organisations to add €200 million to the €477 million they have apparently already contributed to a fund for victims of abuse in Church-run institutions. Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen said that the overall costs of programmes to help abuse victims will be €1,360 million; he is asking Church officials to pay half of that cost. The €1,360 million figure refers to the response to victims of physical and sexual abuse in institutions such as foster homes and juvenile detention centres that were run by religious orders on behalf of the state. The Ryan Report, which revealed the extent of abuse in those institutions, said it was "the shared responsibility of both the state and the congregations" to help the victims.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: “We had already suggested that the Church should pay at least half, so this development is welcome, albeit the Church’s fair share is a lot more. There must also be an independent audit of the amount the Church is claiming credit for having contributed. A report produced by lawyers argued convincingly that a material element of the Church’s contribution has been made in kind and the value of these assets has been significantly overvalued. The report (written in 2008) found no evidence at that stage of any major land sales by the Church.”

Keith added "The offer of resignation of the Bishop of Augsburg (Germany) has been slated as the ‘strongest admission of guilt yet to emerge from the church’ over misconduct involving the young, and the acceptance by the Pope of the resignation of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin (in Ireland) comes into a similar category.

"Note they resigned, though; they were not stripped of their rank and expelled. They will probably be relieved of their responsibilities to live out retirement all found in Church premises. They might even think the release did them a favour."

"I know of only one — extreme — case where a bishop or more senior cleric who has been laicised/sacked over child abuse. Only when the Church sacks all culpable senior clerics will we know it means business. And there are plenty of them. One letter I received after my intervention at the UN, about US bishops, would make any reasonable person's hair stand on end.

"And even an acknowledgement of culpability, rather than implausible excuses, by our very own Cardinal O'Connor over the Michael Hill affair would be another welcome gesture of good faith."

Fri, 23 Apr 2010


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