PRIESTS in the diocese of Ferns are being asked to hand over €1,000 each towards the payment of compensation bills to clerical abuse victims.
This is the latest attempt by Bishop of Ferns Dr Denis Brennan to fund the outstanding bill of almost€1 million due to victims of clerical abuse in the diocese. The diocese has already paid €8.1m to victims following up to 60 cases of clerical sex abuse.
Bishop Brennan was criticised last year when he asked Mass-goers to contribute toward the mounting legal bills. The One Child International charity described the request as similar to “asking the abused to pay for costs associated with their own abuse”.
According to the Wexford Echo, a Friends of Ferns Diocesan Fund is to be established next January which will initially be funded by subscriptions from the diocese’s 92 priests.
In a letter sent to clergy, Bishop Brennan wrote that “the consensus at the Deanery meetings was that €1,000 per priest per year would meet our present needs”.
“A number of suggestions were put forward. The one that came across very strongly from all groups was that the clergy should take a lead and contribute themselves in the first instance.
“The advice from the groups was that this initiative should be rolled out immediately and, depending on the response, the diocese would be in a position to judge if other suggestions would need to be implemented in the short term or could be left in reserve for the moment.”
The letter contained a standing order slip which is to be returned by September 30.
Last year, Bishop Brennan told the Diocesan Finance Committee that the diocese has paid out €8.1m in compensation and legal fees following 48 abuse cases.
A further 12 civil actions were pending and the diocese had estimated it will need to pay out a further €1.8m — however, it can only fund half of this sum.
An inquiry into paedophile priests in Ferns uncovered a catalogue of abuse with more than 100 allegations against 21 priests from the 1960s to 2005.
The Government paid €650,000 in taxpayers’ money towards the Bermingham and Ferns Inquiries and the diocese was left with a legal bill of €2.1m.
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