Australia’s Catholic Church paid 276 million Australian dollars (212 million dollars) in compensation to thousands of people who were victims of sexual abuse as children by priests and religious brothers, an inquest was told on Thursday.
The money, on average 91,000 dollars, was given to thousands of victims who came forward with their claims to the church, according to data released by the Royal Commission looking into allegations of widespread child sex abuse in Catholic churches and institutions.
Senior counsel Gail Furness said the Catholic Church authorities have paid 276.1 million dollars in total, a sum that includes compensation and amounts for treatment, legal and other costs.
After a four-year investigation, the commission shocked Australia by revealing earlier this month that 4,445 people had made claims of child sexual abuse to Catholic authorities over 35 years between 1980 and 2015.
The commission’s analysis of church records showed 3,066 child abuse claims resulted in payments for redress, which included 2,854 monetary compensations.
The commission was told that some 741 claims were still ongoing.
The Christian Brothers, who operated a number of residential facilities, made the highest number of payments: 763, which amounted to 48.5 million dollars.
Furness said the number does not reveal the actual extent of the abuse in Catholic churches and institutions in Australia as many victims never came forward.
“The royal commission’s experience is that many survivors face barriers which deter them from reporting abuse to authorities and to the institution in which the abuse occurred,” she said.