Australia: Christian Brothers under financial pressure after paying $213 million in sex abuse compensation - PressFrom - Australia
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AustraliaChristian Brothers under financial pressure after paying $213 million in sex abuse compensation

21:27  14 july  2019
21:27  14 july  2019 Source:   theage.com.au

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Australia's Catholic Church has paid US$ 213 million in compensation to thousands of child abuse victims since 1980, a government inquiry Some compensation was in non-cash payments . The institution which paid the most was global order the Christian Brothers , which paid US.1 million

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The viability of the Christian Brothers is in doubt as the religious order is forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to settle an avalanche of compensation claims stemming from decades of child abuse.

The Age can reveal the Christian Brothers’ Australian wing has already spent more than $213 million on victims’ payouts and legal expenses in the past six years, with the order expecting to outlay at least another $134 million in the future.

Christian Brothers under financial pressure after paying $213 million in sex abuse compensation© Angela Wylie The Christian Brothers have paid $213 million to compensate victims of sexual abuse. But as survivors continue to seek compensation under the National Redress Scheme, the Catholic order is relying on massive injections of cash from its regional headquarters to pay out people who were abused in its schools and orphanages.

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The Catholic Church paid US $ 213 million to victims of alleged sex abuse committed by priests in Australia over The Christian Brothers religious community "reported both the highest total payment and the largest number Sullivan said that not all victims have equal opportunities or compensation .

The Christian Brothers , which operated residential facilities, made the highest number of payments . Victim support groups on Thursday said the wide difference in compensation amounts by more than 1,000 Catholic institutions meant abuse compensation should be managed by the

Figures show that the Christian Brothers spent only $3.6 million on “legal and litigation expenses” in 2013, the year the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established.

But this cost ballooned to $134 million in 2018 - nearly nine times what the group’s officials estimated it would be liable to pay for that year.

Despite the blowout, the order insists it will be able to meet its commitments to survivors through the continued “responsible management of our finances''.

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According to the report, the Catholic Church paid US$ 213 million to victims of sex abuse committed by priests in Australia over decades. The report by the commission also stated that the Christian Brothers group admitted during the hearing that both the highest total payment and the largest

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“Responding to claims involves significant sums expended on compensation and other supportservices such as counselling and psychological services," a spokesman for the Christian Brothers Oceania Province said.

“Whilst these costs are significant, any financial consideration pales in comparison to the moral imperative of making sure that we acknowledge and respond to those who have suffered so greatly as a result of the abuse that they have endured."

The royal commission found the Christian Brothers were among the worst perpetrators of child abuse in the country, with 22 per cent of its religious members being identified as alleged abusers.

Among them were brothers Gerald Leo Fitzgerald, Edward Dowlan, and Robert Best from St Alipius in Ballarat - the same school that harboured notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale and became one of the most shocking examples of the church’s crimes and cover-ups.

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The sexual abuse scandal in the Congregation of Christian Brothers is a major chapter in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in various Western jurisdictions. In Australia, there were allegations that during the 1970s sexual abuses took place at the junior campus of St Patrick's College and St Alipius

Leslie Turner was paid £17,000 in compensation after claiming two members of the Irish Christian Brothers order sexually abused him at a school in The Catholic church has continued to pay out compensation to victims of alleged child sex abuse at its schools - but is still refusing to accept liability.

But while the Christian Brothers signed up to the National Redress Scheme in February, it has not explained how it will meet the future costs of participating in the 10-year scheme when its Australian wing has repeatedly reported huge financial losses over the past six years.

Figures show that since 2013, the group’s regional governing body, Christian Brothers Oceania Province, has pumped up the local order through funding injections worth more than $203 million, according to documents filed with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Despite this, the group has continued to hemorrhage money: last year, for instance, the Christian Brothers generated nearly $22 million in revenue but spent $134 million on sex abuse claims. And even after receiving a $75 million contribution from the Oceania Province, it was still nearly $66 million in deficit.

The financial assistance came despite the Australian order holding substantial property assets and investments in the financial markets, although the profits from these have been key to maintaining their normal operations.

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The Oceania Province will not disclose how these massive support payments are being funded or whether they are obligated to continue to make them.

But the fact that the Christian Brothers’ Australian wing is relying on massive funding injections to operate raises questions about the group’s future here.

Doubts emerged two years ago, when regional boss Peter Clinch told the royal commission the group was no longer seeking applications for its novitiate and suggested it could disappear from Australia within a few decades.

Asked during the inquiry if he thought the Christian Brothers would merely be a brand of schools run by lay people in 30 to 40 years, Mr Clinch replied: “I don’t even think the brand will be there.”

This is in stark contrast to a generation ago when the Christian Brothers, one of the Catholic Church's main teaching orders, ran and manned schools in cities across the nation. While many are still operating, almost all of those schools are run by lay staff dedicated to Catholic values.

The Christian Brothers’ decision to sign up to the National Redress Scheme came after years of legal battles with victims.

Last August, after a long-standing dispute, its trustees awarded Perth man Paul Bradshaw a record $1 million for the abuse he suffered in the 1950s and '60s at its Castledare and Clontarf orphanages in Western Australia.

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The religious order also spent about $1.5 million funding the legal defence of Brother Best, whose victims numbered in the dozens. Some of them have since taken their own lives.

The Christian Brothers are not the only religious entity whose finances have come under the spotlight recently.

Late last month, The Sunday Age reported that the compensation scheme set up by convicted Cardinal George Pell, cost the Catholic Church $34.27 million between 1996 to March 2014  -but only $9.72 million, or 28 per cent of it, was used to compensate 307 child sex abuse victims.

The bulk of the money during that period was spent on other operational costs for the scheme, including $7.8 million for its Independent Commissioner Peter O’Callaghan, QC; $4.7 million on general legal fees; and $11 million on its pastoral arm, Carelink.

The church last week stood by the so-called Melbourne Response, pointing out that 234 victims have received “top-up payments” worth about $11 million since November 2014.

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