The Catholic Church paid $276 million to victims of alleged sex abuse committed by priests in Australia over decades, an investigation says.
Critics say the system of payments is unfair and not all victims receive the same opportunities or compensation.
Since 2013, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been holding hearings on alleged Catholic Church sex abuse of children – mostly boys.
“Catholic Church authorities made total payments of [AU]$276.1 million [US$213million] in response to claims of child sexual abuse received between 1 January 1980 and 28 February 2015, including monetary compensation, treatment, legal and other costs,” the statement from the commission said on Thursday.
The Christian Brothers religious community “reported both the highest total payment and the largest number of total payments $48.5 million paid in relation to 763 payments at an average of approximately $64,000 per payment,” the document said.
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The report added that the Jesuits “had the highest average total payment at an average of approximately $257,000 per payment (of those Catholic Church authorities who made at least 10 payments).”
“Even though the church has paid $270 million and it took a long time to get its act together to do that, there’s no doubt the system of paying people and compensating them is best done independently of the church through a national redress scheme,” the Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive, Francis Sullivan, told AAP.’