Aussie Church planned payouts well before admitting abuse

The Catholic Church in Australia set aside tens of millions of dollars to compensate sexual abuse victims years before it publicly admitted the problem.

The Sunday Age reported that a warning was issued by a church insurer to the nation’s bishops as early as 1988.

This was more than seven years before the Melbourne Response and Towards Healing protocols for victims were set up.

The Sunday Age investigation was based on internal Church documents.

A proposal for a dedicated abuse victim compensation scheme was made by Catholic Church Insurance Limited in 1990.

CCI set some money aside itself as Australia’s bishops debated a course of action.

The bishops ultimately approved the creation of a “special issues” insurance policy and compensation pool in 1991.

The allowed for cover increased from A$5million to $A15million in two years after that.

CCI then issued the Church with a special one year policy that increased coverage to $A25 million, but excluded payments for abuse prior to 1976.

The Church would have to pay directly for claims from before this date.

CCI was experiencing problems in the early 1990s having its insurance exposure to sexual abuse claims underwritten by reinsurance operators.

According to The Sunday Age, the move also came despite the Church’s hierarchy continuing to publicly downplay allegations in the early 1990s that the Church was facing a massive sexual abuse scandal.

An internal Church document noted that a “significant number” of claims for damages for sexual abuse had already been received in the early 1990s.

Last year, Cardinal George Pell testified before a royal commission that he was aware of “dozens of complaints” when the Melbourne Response was created in 1996.

Catholic Church authorities have paid more than A$43 million to victims in total since 1997, it is estimated.

The Sunday Age understands CCI has earmarked up to another A$150 million to potentially settle all outstanding and anticipated sexual abuse claims.


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