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Irish church pays into Govt sex abuse fund

The Catholic bishops of Ireland announced on Monday that they would pay $A188 million into a special government sex abuse fund in order to avoid scores of lawsuits.

Catholic World News reports that by joining the fund, the government extended immunity from civil lawsuits to priests, brothers, and nuns of religious orders who abused children in residential institutions in Ireland if the victims accept compensation from the fund.

The move was apparently motivated by hundreds of new lawsuits - up to 500 - filed against the Church in the past week as the statute of limitations approaches today.

If a victim accepts a payout from the Residential Institutions Redress Board, they will be legally prevented from proceeding with their lawsuit. The so-called "no fault" compensation system means that members of the religious orders will not have to face their victims in court. Anybody who was abused in an industrial school, reformatory, children's home, or hospital is eligible to apply for compensation.