Royal Commission told of Church compensation payouts

Towards Healing evidence

The Catholic Church has paid out $43 million through its Towards Healing process to victims who were sexually abused as children, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard yesterday, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The hearing was told that Christian Brothers were the order with the most complaints against them, followed by the Marist Brothers and then the De La Salle Brothers.

The highest amount paid out under the process was $850,000 from the Archdiocese of Sydney, the commission was told.

The Catholic Church's barrister Peter Gray SC said the current hearing before the commission into the church's controversial Towards Healing process was a 'searing and decisive moment in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia.'

He said the church was ashamed to acknowledge that in some cases, the church concealed or covered up the facts and the abuse against children and moved the perpetrators to other places and did not report the cases to police.

Mr Gray said: 'The sacred place of children, their innocence and their trustfulness, is central to the Christian tradition and to the Catholic faith.' However, when he began to quote from the Gospel of Mark - 'Let the little children come to me' - there was an outcry from the public gallery.

TRUTH JUSTICE AND HEALING COUNCIL

Towards Healing, the Catholic Church’s protocol for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse, was the focus of the fourth public hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney yesterday. This hearing is expected to run for two weeks.

On day one the Royal Commission heard opening statements from Senior Counsel assisting the Royal Commission, Gail Furness SC. Ms Furness outlined the Towards Healing process. She summarised the four case studies involving the Archdiocese of Brisbane, the Diocese of Lismore and the Marist Brothers. She provided data on victims who had approached Towards Healing.

Following Ms Furness’ opening address, Counsel representing the Truth Justice and Healing Council, Peter Gray SC, provided an opening statement during which he read the Truth Justice and Healing Council’s commitment statement of apology from the Towards Healing submission. He expressed regret on behalf of the Church to victims of abuse. Mr Gray confirmed the Church’s commitment to fully cooperate with the Royal Commission.

Mrs Joan Isaacs, the subject of the first Towards Healing case study to be examined by the Royal Commission in this fourth pubic hearing, read her witness statement which detailed her dissatisfaction with her experience of the Towards Healing process and other dealings with the Catholic Church. The statement was strong and clear.

Following Mrs Isaacs, Dr Ken Robertson who was at the time Director of Professional Standards in Queensland, gave evidence. He talked about the way Mrs Isaacs’ case had been handled. He said he hoped the evidence he’d given the Commission provided a deeper understanding of the devastation caused by sexual abuse.

Transcripts of evidence given yesterday will be on the Royal Commission web site in the next day or two.

The Truth Justice and Healing Council is coordinating the Catholic Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission.

For more information about the Royal Commission visit tjhcouncil.org.au 

FULL COVERAGE

Catholic Church has paid $43 million to victims through Towards Healing (The Daily Telegraph)

Priest told teenage girl he was terminally ill (The Australian)

Church lawyer heckled by victims at public inquiry (Yahoo7)

Survivors leave hearing in tears (SMH)

Archbishop of Perth calls for child officers (The West Australian)

RELEASES

Archbishop of Perth sorry for abuse and promises change

Archbishop of Perth letter

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