No Money to Sex Abuse Victims, a Resolute Church Insists

Times of Malta
January 14, 2012

A week after sex abuse victims set an ultimatum to reconsider its decision, the Church remains adamant that no compensation will be paid.

The Church is prepared to provide . . . help by professionals as soon as the victims . . . ask for it

Abuse victim and spokesman Lawrence Grech last week told The Sunday Times that victims were giving the Church until the end of February to reconsider its decision to not compensate them financially.

He claimed that despite the Church stating last September that it would make psychological, psychiatric and social professionals available to those sexually abused by clergy members, counselling had yet to materialise.

Asked to respond to Mr Grech’s comments, a Curia spokesman indicated that the onus of action lay with the victims, not the Church.

“The Church is prepared to provide... help by professionals as soon as victims of abuse by individual pastoral functionaries ask for this service. To date, no such request to the Church authorities has been made for this service,” the spokesman said.

He added that the Church stood by its earlier statement regarding financial compensation.

The Church said last September it had decided against giving financial compensation to victims. Citing legal advice, it said that, as an institution, it had no obligation to assume responsibility for the actions of clergy members.

The surprise announcement, which abuse victims said had left them “disappointed, surprised and disgusted”, ran counter to the Church’s position in several other dioceses abroad, where clerical abuse victims received significant sums in compensation.

American dioceses have forked out well over $1 billion in compensation to abuse victims since the 1990s.

In Holland, the Church has established a compensation system through which abuse victims will receive financial payments based on the severity of abuse suffered.

Clerical sexual abuse scandals in Ireland have led to a range of financial settlements being reached with victims. In one instance, the Bishop of Ferns asked parishioners to raise money themselves to finance compensation claims.

The Belgian Church announced last week that it would be pushing for convicted priests to financially compensate victims. It said that in cases where abusive clergy members could not pay, the Church itself would compensate victims.

Both former priests convicted of sexually abusing minors, Carmelo Pulis and Godwin Scerri, were in court yesterday to appeal their convictions.

Both were found guilty of sexually abusing Mr Grech and other boys at St Joseph Home, Sta Venera over 20 years ago.

A third clergy member accused of sexual abuse, Joseph Bonnett, died before he could be tried.

The week after the two priests were found guilty of sexually abusing minors, Vatican chief prosecutor Mgr Charles Scicluna said that abuse victims deserved financial compensation.

“I have encouraged their lawyer, Patrick Valentino, to ask for damages in the civil courts. I think they have every right,” Mgr Scicluna had said.








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.