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Catholic Church in Australia paid $213m to abuse victims

Catholic Church in Australia paid $213m to abuse victims The Australian Catholic Church has paid A$276m ($213m) to victims of sexual abuse since 1980, according to BBC on Thursday.

The money was divided between thousands of victims, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse was told.

The data was released on Thursday and showed the average payment was A$91,000.

The landmark royal commission was set up in 2013 and is also investigating abuse at non-religious organisations.

The Catholic Church made the payments in response to 3,066 of 4,445 child sexual abuse claims between 1980 and 2015, the inquiry heard. More than 40% of claims were received by a handful of male orders.

They included compensation, treatment, legal and other costs, said Gail Furness, the lead lawyer assisting the commission in Sydney.

"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," Furness said.

"Accordingly, the total number of incidences of child sexual abuse in Catholic Church institutions in Australia is likely to be greater than the claims made," she said, adding that the average delay between an alleged abuse and it being reported was 33 years.

Earlier this month, the commission heard 7% of the nation's Catholic priests allegedly abused children between 1950 and 2010.

The commission has previously heard harrowing testimony from scores of people who suffered abuse at the hands of clergy.

Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, said last year the church had made "enormous mistakes" and "catastrophic" choices by refusing to believe abused children, shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish and over-relying on counseling of priests to solve the problem.

A royal commission is Australia's most powerful type of inquiry that is able to compel people to testify and recommend legislative changes and criminal charges. It is also investigating other religious institutions and government and sporting organisations, among others.
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