The Christian Brothers have paid more than $20 million to victims of sexual and physical abuse across Australia, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told yesterday, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The payments made by both the order and Catholic Church Insurance were made to 531 people, usually child migrants brought to Australia from the UK and Malta, and involved 775 allegations, counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness said.
The Commission has heard that the Brothers were forced into settling claims after a class action brought by law firm Slater and Gordon in 1993. The action was defeated on technical grounds but forced the Order into setting up funds and settling claims.
The Christian Brothers’ own historian identified at least 70 brothers around Australia who had complaints made against them, mainly of sexually abusing boys between 1919 and 1969, the child sex abuse Royal Commission was told yesterday.
There were 18 brothers who were repeat offenders, while one had five separate complaints and another four complaints. However, from 1945, not one brother was expelled from the Order, the Commission was told.
A former provincial leader of the Order, Brother Anthony Shanahan, has revealed he did not tell the whole truth to a federal parliamentary committee about a decade ago.
The Truth Justice and Healing Council announced yesterday that work is now underway within the Church to review the education of people training for the priesthood in Australian Dioceses.
The Council said in a statement: 'As part of a Vatican initiative, the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference, through a group of senior seminary directors and other professionals, is looking at current practices regarding child protection training in Australian seminaries and theological colleges.'
The CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, met with the group engaged in the review in Sydney recently. He said a detailed study to identify gaps in child protection training for new priests is an important part of the Church’s reforms.
'Priests have an important role to play in ensuring the safety of children in Catholic communities,' Mr Sullivan said. 'Priests need to be able to recognise signs of child abuse, understand how to respond to allegations of abuse and be fully aware of the boundaries in place for all people working with children.'
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A staggering $20 million paid to Christian Brothers’ abuse victims (The Daily Telegraph)