March 20, 2005

Church asks rich to pay sex abuse bill

IRELAND
Irish Independent

MAEVE SHEEHAN

THE Catholic hierarchy has discussed asking wealthy benefactors and priests of independent means to foot the estimated 25m compensation bill for victims of child abuse.

In the most serious financial crisis to beset the Catholic church in Ireland, bishops disclosed last week that they are running out of money to meet the spiralling costs of indemnifying the victims of clerical sex abuse.

A tax-free fund set up in 1996, the Stewardship Trust, is almost depleted and bishops are reviewing other ways of raising money to meet their liabilities.

More than 8m has been paid to abuse victims since it was set up, with 5m paid in the past two years. The country's 26 dioceses have contributed 6.3m to the central fund.

Hierarchy sources said this weekend that bishops are considering turning to wealthy benefactors to provide tax-free donations. Individual priests and bishops will also be asked to contribute. Many already have. Bequests left to the church for bishops to spend at their discretion are also likely to be pooled for the fund.

Posted by kshaw at March 20, 2005 05:24 AM