Belfast Telegraph

Donations 'not funding legal bills'

The Archdiocese of Dublin has asked parishes which earned millions in the boom on property sales to pay into a fund to cover future clerical abuse compensation claims.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin insisted that monies parishioners donate to poor boxes or basket collections at Mass have not and will not be touched to make reparations to survivors.

The Catholic Church in Dublin has been hit by 172 civil actions against 44 priests, at a cost of 13.5 million euro. Archbishop Martin has warned the final bill may be double that but insisted parish funds are not currently being used to pay legal bills.

He said: "I have never authorised the use of any parish funds for survivors of clerical abuse claims."

The archdiocese is in the middle of a large-scale financial review. Parishes are being asked to look at their finances and consider what can be paid into a general fund which will be used to cover compensation as well as running costs across the diocese.

"We have asked parishes, which have had, for various reasons maybe through the sale of property or land, a surplus, to see if there is a way in which we can use some of that money in a sense of solidarity for the overall needs of the diocese, not directly for child sexual abuse," the Archbishop said.

The Archbishop insisted the general fund would not be used exclusively for compensation claims. "If money is being used for clerical sex abuse claims, I will say that," he added.

The Dublin Archdiocese is reportedly working on a strategy amid fears in the Church of "financial collapse" in the capital.

Falling donations and numbers attending Mass, and the disgust among Catholics over clerical abuse scandals and how they were handled by the hierarchy, have all combined to severely limit the Church's ability to pay for its failings.

An internal document last month revealed serious fears among priests of the diocese of a looming black hole in financial affairs.

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