The head of the Catholic Church in Tasmania believes it will not have to sell property to help fund compensation under the National Redress Scheme.
Archbishop of Hobart, the Most Reverend Julian Porteous, said he believed the church had enough money to compensate survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
The Catholic Church wrote to the Federal Government yesterday to sign up to the scheme, following months of evidence from sex abuse victims at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse.
Archbishop Porteous told ABC Radio Hobart that based on the number of victims in the state he was currently aware of, there would be no need to sell any Tasmanian church property.
“We feel at the present moment that we would be able to meet the needs of any victim who comes forward from our [available] resources,” he said.
“Of course we just don’t know. We may find that new people do come forward, but at the moment I’m not anticipating an enormous demand on the financial resources of the diocese.”
Archbishop Porteous said the church’s dioceses around Australia would also work together to ensure each one met their obligations if necessary.
Victim numbers still unclear
The Anglican Church in Tasmania has a list of 108 properties for sale, including 76 churches, to help raise approximately $8.6 million for victim compensation.
Nationally, Catholic Church abuse survivors represent almost 62 per cent of people giving evidence at the royal commission, compared to only 14.7 per cent for the Anglican Church.
If the national figures hold true in Tasmania, the Catholic Church may need a lot more than their Anglican counterparts, but Archbishop Porteous said there had not been as many victims in Tasmania as in other states.
“Based on the evidence we have, in Tasmania there have not been the number of cases of abuse [as in other states],” he said.
‘We want to support victims’
Though the Catholic Church was not the first to sign up to the redress scheme, Archbishop Porteous said the church nationally was waiting for most of the states to join before making its announcement.
“We felt this was an avenue that could be of assistance to victims, that’s always been our central concern,” he said.
“If this can help those who have experienced abuse, then we want to support it.
“We’ve got the entire Catholic Church in terms of all the dioceses, about 40 dioceses across Australia, plus the religious orders. We’ve decided we want to do it as a whole church.”
The archbishop said he had met survivors, after publicly appealing to them to come forward and talk to him if they needed support.
“The main thing people want to do is tell their story,” Archbishop Porteous said.
“If I can be of any assistance, some means of some healing, I’ll do the best I can.
“If someone wants to see me, I’ll drop everything basically and go and see them.”
Image credit: Rhiannon Shine, ABC
This article was published as part of my employment with the ABC. It went live on Thursday 31/5/18. You can find it here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-31/archbishop-julian-porteous-talks-about-joining-redress-scheme/9819090