Irish diocese clarifies request for parish donations to pay sex abuse damages

Bishop Denis Brennen of Ferns.
Bishop Denis Brennen of Ferns.

.- After the Diocese of Ferns received negative feedback for remarks its bishop made earlier about asking parishioners to help with sex abuse settlements, the diocese released a statement today assuring churchgoers that “Nothing definite as to how to proceed on the issue of the source of funding for future claims has yet been decided.”

The March 3 clarification follows Bishop Denis Brennen's remarks on Tuesday, when he suggested that the faithful within his diocese should help cover some of the 10 million euro legal damages associated with sex abuse cases. Bishop Brennan previously stated at his diocese's annual Finance AGM meeting that “it will be necessary to invite the parishes to become a part of the process financially.”

The southeastern Irish diocese of Ferns was one of the first to be investigated for potential sexual and physical abuse. Bishop Brennan said the diocese has already paid 8 million euros to settle lawsuits from 48 abuse victims, but it still has 13 pending cases. The appeal for financial help has come amid an economic crisis Ireland that finds the unemployment rate at a 15 year high.

On Wednesday, the Diocese of Ferns stated that “Going to the parishes is but 'one' option the diocesan finance committee has put to parish finance committees in response to some requests from individuals within the diocese as to 'how we might help' to complete the work of justice and healing.”

“Nothing definite as to how to proceed on the issue of the source of funding for future claims has yet been decided in the Ferns diocese,” the diocese stressed.

The statement also mentioned that consultations between diocesan officials and the “diocesan family” about what will be done are still ongoing. “This process happens each year at the annual Finance AGM.”

“It may very well be that a decision will be taken to dispose of one of the diocesan assets,” the diocese noted, “but that will only occur after the conclusion of consultation over the coming months, and perhaps years – with churchgoers.”

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