February 25, 2005

Priests 'were against' abuse fund tax

Belfast Telegraph

By Sarah Brett

25 February 2005
The Bishop of Derry ignored priests who railed against taxing their parishioners to cover costs in paedophile priest cases, it was claimed today.

More revelations about Seamus Hegarty's controversial cash-raising methods for the Stewardship Fund emerged this morning ahead of a crisis meeting of the local Catholic church, to which he was not invited.

In November last year, Bishop Hegarty began to extract a 3% annual levy from parish incomes (£200,000) to go towards the dwindling fund, set up in 1996 to cover legal, compensation and counselling costs in clerical child sex abuse cases across Ireland.

Priests who were reluctant to contribute in such a way were ignored, Strabane Priest Father Michael Doherty said today.

"I and other priests wrote to him expressing our reservations about the levy - but he never wrote back to any of us as far as I know," he revealed.

Most of Bishop Hegarty's parishioners had no idea about the tax, or where it was going.

Posted by kshaw at February 25, 2005 09:37 AM