Churches sold to compensate victims

A diocese in Canada's eastern province of Newfoundland will sell all of its churches and missions to come up with the money to compensate the victims of sexual assault by a priest.

AAP reports that the Catholic Diocese of St George's said it would sell about 150 properties to raise $A13.58 million for the victims of Fr Kevin Bennett, who was convicted in 1990 of hundreds of sexual assaults over three decades as a priest on the west coast of the island.

"Everything," Bishop Douglas Crosby said. "All of the churches, all of the parish houses, all the missions."

Bennett pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison in the early 1990s. Now retired and in his 70s, he continues to draw a church pension.

His 39 victims launched a civil suit in 1991, claiming damages from Bennett, some of his superiors, the western Newfoundland diocese of St George's and the church as a whole.

The case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld the right of victims to sue their diocese.

Early this year, St George's became the first Catholic diocese in Canada to seek bankruptcy protection as a result of sexual abuse claims.

Churches sold to compensate victims (National Nine News/Australian Associated Press 10/5/05)

Churches sold to compensate victims (The Age 10/5/05)
Diocese to sell its churches in sexual-abuse settlement (Canadian Press/Globe and Mail 10/5/05)
Scars just wont heal (Border Mail 5/5/05)
New pope key to Vatican's response to sex-abuse scandal, says Judge Burke (Catholic News Agency 5/5/05)
Tearful teacher jailed for sex with boy, 15 (Sydney Morning Herald 6/5/05)
Nun says tragedy of abuse challenges church leaders to be more open (Catholic News Service 3/5/05)

11 May 2005