Cloyne: Parish funds won’t pay victims

THE diocese of Cloyne has said it has “no plans” to use church basket collections to pay damages to victims of clerical sex abuse in civil cases.

However, in response to a series of questions from the Irish Examiner, a diocesan spokesman did not entirely rule it out, stating that “funding for future claims will be sourced as the need arises”.

The Dublin archdiocese has admitted it is using parish funds to cover the cost of clerical sexual abuse claims. Massgoers were not told where their money could now be directed.

According to documents seen by the Irish Catholic, senior priests and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin were told in May that the ‘general fund’, used to pay compensation and lawyers’ fees, was running a deficit.

A proposal was then made that individual parishes donate funds from any cash surpluses generated.

Last year, the Dublin archdiocese ruled out asking parishioners to help towards the multimillion-euro payouts due.

So far, according to Cloyne diocese, such abuse claims have been funded by the Church’s child protection fund, cash reserves, and the sale of a house which was diocesan property.

“The Diocese of Cloyne deals with compensation claims and associated costs as they arise,” Fr Jim Killeen said.

“As previously stated, the diocese as diocese owns very little saleable property. Ultimately each parish and diocese depends on the generosity of the faithful in the weekly collections and other contributions for the funding of our activities and the meeting of our commitments. We are continually grateful for their generosity and support.”

Currently, Cloyne parishes “which show surpluses in their annual accounts retain them for parish purposes”.

A spokeswoman for the Dublin archdiocese said: “Some parishes have been asked to contribute to diocesan finances — not just for claims relating to abuse; it is a voluntary contribution from parishes who may have existing surplus funds.”

In March 2010, the Bishop of Ferns, Dr Denis Brennan, asked parishioners to help pay compensation and legal bills of €10.5 million. There was huge outcry over the plans, which were subsequently stopped.

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