February 24, 2005

Hegarty backtracks over cash revelation

NORTHERN IRELAND
BBC News

By Sarah Brett

24 February 2005
Bishop Seamus Hegarty today apologised for any "disquiet" caused by taking money off parishioners to cover costs for paedophile priest cases without asking them.

In a climb-down from his stance on BBC's Spotlight programme this week, the Bishop of Derry issued a statement last night after parishioners complained about what was seen as a covert tax.

Meanwhile, priests from the diocese are to meet in private tomorrow to discuss the levy and continuing fallout from the case of Fr Andy McCloskey, who paid a 19,000 out of court settlement to a man who claims he sexually assaulted him when he was 18.

It is understood several priests are unimpressed with how the money issue was handled.

Since November 2004, around 3% of parish income - about 200,000 - goes into the Stewardship Trust.

The fund was set up in 1996 to cover compensation, counselling and legal costs of clerical child sex abuse cases and, more recently, the costs of the Irish Bishop's Conference Child Protection Office.

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2005 08:08 AM